Lorine Niedecker

I find that Niedecker likes to use images to communicate unique thought. These images are so ordinary yet the messages in her poems are so profound. She is able to connect different smaller images to create a bigger picture for example in her poem ” Seven Years a Charming Woman” she uses the image of a simple coat which I think is a metaphor of her life. She mentions that the coat is not warm but has honor. When something has honor, it means it is respectable and distinguished. This coat must be expensive and stylish but it doesn’t keep her warm during the cold winters. She also must have had it for a long time because the collar is wearing off and she had to remove it. This coat meant so much to her because it made her look charming and rich although she is the opposite. The ideology of the  mask from ” We Wear the Mask” by Dunbar gets brought up again because she is masking her true economic standing with the one expensive coat she has. The woman is acting like everything is fine but underneath that stylish and expensive coat, she is cold and poor . This poem has a melancholy and aloof  tone to it. Especially at the end when it says “Charming? Well, she’s destitute.” Its like when someone says they like your shirt and you respond with ” well, I got it from the thrift store.” It has an undertone of you shouldn’t think too much of it. In the same way she is called charming but you shouldn’t think of her that way because she is poor. Removing the collar hides the imperfections of the coat which also hides the imperfections of her life as a poor woman. I also like her attentive use of the “C” when she uses words like “charming” “collar” and “coat” It draws your attention more to the coat then the actual woman wearing the coat. That brings me back to my first analysis of what the woman in the poem is trying to do which is to mask herself with the coat. In life, it is all about money and looks. Who cares if you are comfortable as long as you look good and get compliments but deep down you are hurting and suffering. You sacrifice your level of comfort for recognition and make due with what you have. I think that is the moral of the poem. This poem I feel like is about Niedecker. She lived in Wisconsin where it is really cold and in a lot of her pictures she is wearing a coat. Her parents had to sell a lot of their property so she lived in one of the houses they kept but it was not very sufficient because it always flooded. It seems like she wasn’t very happy with her life but she made due with what she had and tried to make it work just like her coat. She also reminds me of Emily Dickinson because it was only after she died that her work gained some interest. Also their style in writing is similar. They both have short lines and stanzas which makes it difficult to understand the poem.  Overall, this poem is very interesting and so is her style of writing. This poem is short but it gets to the point.


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