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Where I come from

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Hernie Castillo

on 14 September 2013

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Transcript of Where I come from

"Where I come from"
Elizabeth Brewster
26 August 1922 – 26 December 2012
Most of her poems are based on rural and small town rather than urban environment.
The village of Chipman (1,291 habitants) is located on the banks of the Salmon River at the head of the Grand Lake. It is a rural area that has determined Brewster's productions throughout her career.
Chipman, New Brunswick, Canada
The poem is set out in three stanzas, the last being a rhyming couplet with the words "blow" and "snows".
This stanza deals with the organized and fast paced life of the city. In the city everything is precise and controlled; everything runs like clockwork.
The second stanza exposes an idea of change in the poem. The poem now shifts more to country and rural life.
In this final stanza we can see how the door blowing open represents a gateway opening to a new way of life, this idea of radical change, noticeable contrast between two very different environments. This also can be interpreted as the opening of mind towards memories of childhood.
The stanza break indicates the swift between the first one being more general and focused on city life to the second one presenting personal feelings and country life
The key idea of the poem seems to be that a person’s character is always formed at least in part by the place where he or she is born – “People are made of places”. Wherever you go in life you will carry with you memories and echoes of your birthplace, whether it is a city, as in the first stanza, or the quiet Canadian countryside where Elizabeth herself was born – “Where I come from, people carry woods in their minds” –. Certainly the picture she draws in the second stanza does seem at first to be idyllic and wonderful, strongly contrasting with the city images in the first stanza.
This idea shows us that we are shaped not only by where we were born and where we grew up, but also by the places we go to after our childhood. The poem evokes in the reader a certain feeling of displacement (not necessarily in a pessimistic tone), of being in a place very different from home.
We find that the majority of the verses (16) have some sort of pause given by a coma or a stop, splitting the lines into sections. This technique is used to lead the reader into a more deep and appreciative lecture of the poem. This resource also helps to slow the rhythm.
The first two verses summarise the main theme of the poem, suggesting people will never be able to forget their origins.
In the 4th and 5th verses, we can see how the author presents the idea of tulips in order to represent how nature and her memories from the countryside are opressed by the smell. This is a synecdoche because by referring to the smell of the tulips, it represents how the city inhibits her to remember everything about the countryside.
Later on, in verses 6 and 7 the idea of the city being organized and tidily planned out is introduced, ‘nature tidily plotted in little squares with a fountain in the center’, telling us that within the city life, nature still exists in public parks, which have been plotted around the city in small areas. Nature still exists within the city environment, but is scarce and it cannot develop properly due to human intervention.
When referring to museum smell and how art is also tidily plotted with a guidebook’, it compares the tidily plotted countryside to tidily plotted art in an art museum, with a guidebook. The guide book can be a metaphor of man trying to control everything in life, instead of taking one step at a time.
In the end of the stanza, when saying ‘smell of subways crowded at rush hours’, the poet may try to depict the congestion that is caused by overpopulation of the city. It also shows how rushed life in the city is and expresses that at the end of the day, no matter where you come from, everyone has the same goal and that is to get home.
We can relate the 12th and 13th verses with the poet's origin. By saying "Where I come from, people carry woods in their minds"Elizabeth wants to reinforce the importance woods have in New Brunswick for both people and nature itself.
We can see how the city and the countryside inhabitants have different preferences; being the countryside much more natural and prioritizing the resources offered by this. In addition, we can see how things are important for what they are and not for how they look like.
Brewster portrays a farming life with the idea of chickens and hens kept in yards, generally used to provide a source of food and shows us that in the country there is enough room to keep these in contrary to the crowded cities.
By saying "battered schoolhouse behind which violets grow" the author means that nature can create a picture of beauty everywhere
When saying ‘Spring and winter are the mind’s chief seasons: ice and the breaking of ice.’, we can find an antithesis because spring and winter are two opposing seasons, winter could therefore represent the cold city life and spring the colorful country life.
The "frosty wind" that blows from inside the door may represent the negative and somber feeling towards the experiences that the author lived in her youth.
The whole poem shows a contrast between country and city life. It has a rather nostalgic tone because the author expresses her feelings towards the situation by stating repeatedly how she misses her homeland.
By the use of rich and descriptive language, Brewster is able to portray very clear images of both places, regardless their remarkable differences.
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