Use of Imagery and Figurative Language in “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa

1058 Words Nov 20th, 2011 5 Pages
Use of Imagery and Figurative Language in “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa

In his poem, “Facing It”, Yusef Komunyakaa describes his ambivalent emotions towards the Vietnam War of which he was a veteran. Reflecting on his experiences, Yusef expresses his conflicting feelings about the Vietnam War and his feelings about how racism has played a part in America’s history. By using visual imagery and metaphoric language throughout the poem, Yusef is able to reflect the sad and confused emotions he felt while visiting the Vietnam memorial. Yusef begins the poem by using visual imagery to describe his face reflecting in the memorial wall. He uses the specific words “black face fades” to tell us a few things (line 1). One thing it tells
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As soon as he touches the name the speaker sees “the booby trap’s white flash” (line 18). There is a very personal connection to this Andrew Johnson as he is from the same hometown of Yusef (Poetry Foundation). But, more importantly, this person also shares his name with the 17th president of The United States Andrew Johnson. From history we learn that this president succeeded Lincoln. He is also the president that denied free slaves equal rights when he vetoed the Civil Rights Bill (Poetry Foundation). This bill literally took 100 years to be passed, and when it was passed in 1964 the Vietnam War was just getting started (Poetry Foundation). This name mentioned in the poem was so significant because it gives us a sense of visual and emotional imagery. By Yusef putting this in the poem it shows how ironic he must have felt fighting alongside white soldiers and dying next to them even though they didn’t share all of the same civil rights just yet. This part of the poem, and the beginning “My black face” gives us visual imagery to help describe how the speaker felt about having to fight in a war for some other country when he didn’t yet feel as an equal in his own. Yusef is able to describe his feelings and emotions toward the Vietnam War and towards the African American’s role in America by using visual imagery throughout the poem with some metaphoric language. In the end, the speaker also shows his ambivalent feelings that seem to start to

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