2 Lucille Clifton Born in Depew, New York mother was vocational poet Inspired by her children, Afro-American ancestry, heritage and culture, especially by her motherher poems commonly reflect both herethnic pride and her womanist principlesPoems reflect breaking with Euro-centricconventions
3 the thirty eighth yearAnalysis of sectionupset with her normal lifeStruggling with her weightwishes she was more “Afrikan”contrast of Western vs. Afrikan valuesAll lower case lettersconcise- helps to conveyWeight concepts in different parts of worldanaphora- repetition of “i had expected”piece actually untitledthe thirty eighth year of my life plain as bread round as cake. an ordinary woman. i had expected to be smaller than this, more beautiful, wiser in afrikan ways, more confident, i had expected more than this.
4 the thirty eighth yeari will be forty soon. my mother was once forty. my mother died at forty four, a woman of sad countenance leaving behind a girl awkward as a stork. my mother was thick, her hair was a jungle and she was very wise and beautiful and sad.Analysis of sectionnostalgia at past helps develop the image of her motheranalyzing her ancestry we see why her mother would be a woman of sad countenancedescribes how “awkward” she was without her mother, trying to find her own waymetaphor of “hair was jungle” helps develop her sense of Afrikan heritage
5 the thirty eighth yearlack of conventions again show separation from convention- parallels her feelings of separation from everyone elsetalking to her mother- the poet- the one who understood herimagery describes a perfect life, she still feels alonewhen she describes her living in her mothers skin though her apostrophe, she is referring to continuing the poetic heritagemetaphor of daughters and afrikan trees helps when she talks to her mother to show she still has her afrikan heritageexpresses her emotion and how much she misses her motheri have dreamed dreams for you mama more than once i have wrapped me in your skin and made you live again I have taken the bones you hardened and have built daughters and they blossom and promise like afrikan trees. i am a woman now. and ordinary woman. in the thirty eighth year of my life, surrounded by life, a perfect picture of blackness blessed, i had not expected this loneliness
6 the thirty eighth yearif it is western, if it is the final europe in my mind, if in the middle of my life i am turning in the final turn into the shining dark let me come to it whole and holy not afraid not lonely out of my mother’s life into my own. i had expected more than this. i had not expected to be an ordinary womanshe feels strange, but is embracing certain “European”/western thoughtsideas of individualismshe feels a sense of overly conform lifestyleshe wants to be her own person- separate from the person her mother wasshe realizes it is right to be different, “not afraid and not lonely”oxymoron of shining dark refers to the unknown of being her own personshe is still very much talking to her mother, how she is like her and has accomplished much, and wants to accomplish more, in her own unique way… “into her own”
7 the thirty eighth yearoverall, describes her desire to be her own personshe is a unique Afro-Americancontrasting Western and African valuesshe speaks for herself, and herself aloneshe feels alone in the world due to her lack of guidance from her motherdeceptively simple in language, yet complex in ideas
8 the thirty eighth year Clifton rejects the normal Clifton wants to be more than an “ordinary woman”- one who acquiesces to the social norms of womenlooks to attain social empowerment by being her own womancommon themes in “The Scarlet Letter”- individualismsimilar to Frederick Douglass’ autobiography- fighting the social norms of our fathers