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Marge Piercy & Poems

To start with Marge Piercy’s famous poem, it was first published in 1973 in the poetry collection book titled To be of Use (Piercy, 2006). It remains one of Marge Piercy’s more famous and praised works. In this poem, the writer bemoans of our conformist society-one which dictates especially on the weaker sex on how to look, how to act and how to behave. The first stanza of the poem depicts that form the moment a child is born or as soon as a child takes birth the expectations attached to her begin.

She is asked to play with certain toys given to her and take pleasure in cosmetics like lipstick, developing interest in the things which is given to her. Then later on when she grows up, during her teenage years, someone makes an unkind remark over her appearance or gives a comment that is not admitted warmly by her, remarking that she has a big nose and fat legs. For the girl, it then marks the beginnings of an insecure life where she is embarrassed by her appearance and constantly ostracized by a society which believes that looks alone make the world go round.

The writer has taken the side of the girl which is being criticized by the people around her about her looks and appearance. The poem ends on a pitiable note when the girl commits suicide by cutting her wretched nose and legs and the undertaker then makes her up into a fake beauty which finally pleases the heartless residents of our society. W. H. Auden’s poem on the other hand, reflects over how a government’s statistics now make up a man’s life instead of his feelings and emotions. He has related the effects of governmental policies to the life of man, the low importance given to one’s emotions and feelings.

Auden is concerned that the modern world is making life too impersonal he has argued that the life of an ordinary man is controlled by the environment he lives in and more over his desired behaviors are neglected due to the environmental pressures upon him. Illustrating in his poem how the man was in the end described through his employers, the government and the research agencies. If the statistics show a clean record, it does not always mean that the man’s life is bereft from any problems emotional or otherwise. Contrasting the two styles, Piercy writes in a fairy tale like style like we had read stories in our childhood.

Though the poem is full of an ironic overtone, the first few lines are surprisingly silent and sugary-no doubt as some would argue- building on towards a raving ranting against the treacherous society of today and how girls are no longer measured by their intelligence but by the their figures, their doe-like eyes and perfect noses while no importance is given to her emotions when she is criticized about her looks. Piercy uses images created in the mind and a sarcastic tone to bemoan society’s obsession with the ideal woman; namely the Barbie Doll.

She has described today’s society as a reckless wanter of beautiful women with no importance given to her feelings and intellect capabilities. She refers to items which little girls use and the feminine colors such as pink associated with them (pink is incidentally also the Barbie’s standard color). Auden on the other hand, makes recurring use of metaphors in his poem. The Unknown Citizen is liberally laced with them, describing the citizen through metaphors such as ‘a saint’ and ‘normal in everyway’.

He is more dramatic in his writing then Marge Piercy, building a slow crescendo which does not erupt in a final showdown but maintains an almost finesse of sarcasm. His is also the more modern type of writing. To conclude, though both poets write about society and its stifling confirmations, one deals with matters relating to the female sex while the latter poem deals with society as a whole. Both discuss the pressures of modern society albeit in very different ways. Works Cited Piercy, M. Sex Wars. HarperCollins. (2006).

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