An Analysis Of Facing It By Yusef Kounyakaa

727 Words 3 Pages
War; it is terrifying, destructive and deadly. Once the dust settles, what most of society doesn’t see, is the war remaining within. From civilians to soldiers, there is an internal battle that has been going on forever. The Vietnam Memorial in Washington is a tribute to thousands of fallen soldiers from the Vietnam War. People from all around the world visit the wall. For a portion of visitors, it is simply a memorial and for others, it is a haunting reminder of the past. Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem “Facing It” is a reflection of the psychological impact of the memorial, which illustrates one man’s visit to the wall. “Facing It” not only exposes Komunyakaa’s emotional conflict as he connects with the memorial and its history, but the poem …show more content…
Komunyakaa states, “My black face fades, / hiding inside the black granite.” (line 1-2), stating his origin. However, this is more than an expression of race. In these lines, Komunyakaa suggests he is imprisoned in history he helped create. His involvement with the war carries haunting memories that will continue to resurface through life and never let him go. Furthermore, there is a duel between what could have been and what is. Komunyakaa states, “I’m stone. I’m flesh.” (line 5). The contrast between stone and flesh is very distinctive. As evidenced by the poem, the stone is hard and cold without feeling. However, the flesh is soft and sensitive as it embodies the turmoil he is experiencing. Controlling such emotion proves difficult as Komunyakaa writes, “I said I wouldn’t / dammit: No tears.” (line 3-4). The memorial leaves a permanent mark on him which confirms, human character is not fixed and is bound to change under circumstance. In other words, facing an emotional conviction can cause even the most resilient person to …show more content…
I touch the name Andrew Johnson; (line 14-17).
This verifies that the war he fights internally is a war full of burden, remorse, and a lifetime of depression. Komunyakaa reveals to his readers that he has a personal history with the war, but even more so after finding a name on the wall, it suggests a more intimate, painful connection. The fact his name could be among the fallen has not been lost on him.
As a final point, the end-mark of Komunyakaa’s poem is a new beginning. As he tears himself from the talons of the wall, he is able to pull himself out of the past and reclaim the present. Therefore, when he writes “Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s wings / cutting across my stare.” (line 23-24). The distraction of the bird releases his concentration, and he brings himself back to the current moment. In other words, he is now free like the bird. As he releases from the wall, he observes another man. “A white vet’s image floats / closer to me, then his pale eyes / look through mine. I’m a window.” (line 25-27). He is watching the white vet get devoured by the wall, comparatively, where his mindset was just a few moments

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