‘Valentine for Sally Hemings’ By Sojourner Ahebee

‘Valentinefor Sally Hemings’ By Sojourner Ahebee

Poetryand Romanticism in modern Poems

Someforms of poetry artists use the romanticism to influence and conveycertain ideas by drawing up natural, emotional and personal themes.In the modern era of poetry artists are eschewing the poetic languageof romanticism in which colloquial language is used to conveypowerful personality feelings like it is the case with Valentinefor Sally Hemings’by Sojourner Ahebee(Wordsworth, 124).Just like literature, poetry utilizes different conventions and formsto suggest various interpretations through words to evoke feelings ofemotions on the part of readers. While many poets use differentpoetics styles to convey their thematic messages, romanticism hasbeen adversely adopted by many poets as espoused in the poem, Valentinefor Sally Hemings’by Sojourner Ahebee.

Inmany forms of poetry various devices and literary elements are usedto multiple interpretations. Many poets use rhythm, assonance,ambiguity, irony and symbolism to enhance a wide interpretation ofthe poem’s theme and meaning. In addition, a poet utilizesmetonymy, similes and metaphors to create images that readers canvisualize, imagine and form or connecting meanings to what isconveyed (Kuiper,51).

Furthermore,some poets utilize different types of genres and cultures in order toenhance the reader connect with the theme to aspects or environmentenvisioned by the artist. Modern poetry differs from the traditionalpoetry by utilizing the euphony rather than rhythm. In addition, themodern poetry has adopted different techniques, forms and styles fromdiverse languages and cultures. Romanticism has been widely used inthe modern poetry works with several poems of this genre adapting aflexible, free verse forms (Sonnet)(Hartman, 47).In the following analysis, effort is made to explicate the nature of‘Valentinefor Sally Hemings’by Sojourner Ahebee. The analysis attempts to explain the genre,form, poetic elements and the form of the poem.

Thepoem was written by Ahebee who was named the national student poetfor her creative poetic work. The poem was first presented on June19, 2014 at Poem- a –day. Valentine for Sally Hemings is writtenin a romantic literal genre and reflects the modern romantic poetryin which powerful language, form and style is used conveys powerfulfeelings. The poem depicts the modern poetry in which naturalemotions are filtered through the artists’ works to create aromantic piece (Sojourner,1).

Thepoetic work is written in stanzas that adapt a free stanza style withline breaks. The poem is not written in any metrical form althoughthere are scanty lines trying to emphasize a rhyme pattern. Linesseparate, contrast and compare different thoughts expressed in thepoem. In some case, the lines beaks, have been widely used to depicta change in tone (Kuiper,51).The stanzas in the poem do not conform to a particular uniformdifferent stanzas have a different number of lines, neither does thepoem have stanzas that are interlocking in rhyme(Hartman, 24-47).

However,the separate stanzas illustrate different thematic parts of the poem(Wordsworth,125).Another characteristic is that, the poem has a pattern of oddlynumbered lines with a partial rhyme of consonants but differentvowels. For instance, in the second stanza there is a partial rhymeof consonant ‘b’ and‘d’ in the following sentence, ‘atthe bottom of an odd blue sock buried’ and the following sentence’(Sojourner,1). In the third stanza, there is partial rhythm set by repeatedlyusing the word ‘him.’

Thepoem is not written in any metric pattern some stanzas and lines arelengthier than the others. The theme of the poem is about ascandalous love between a president and a black girl. The girl isdead, and the president is dead, so the author depicts her love forthem. For instance, in the second stanza the author says, ‘theway I wanted to love the dead president, rescue him from the depthsof a stomach’(Sojourner, 1).

Thepoem conveys a mixture of themes the author in one place indicatesher liking to the president but in the following verses she appearsto hate the president for the black girl’s death. For instance, theauthor says in the last stanza, ‘adead man haunting the hallways of a breaking girl.’

Thepoet utilizes a number of stylistic devices to convey her emotions.In particular, the poetic piece is full of allusions, imagery andirony. In a way these stylistic devices have been employed to bringout the rhetoric and deepen the meaning and vividly explain to thereader the juxtaposition in the theme (Sojourner,1).The author uses allusion to set pace for the reader to make aconnection and make meaning of what is conveyed, for instance, in thefirst stanza the author writes, ‘there’sa dead Jefferson in every black girl’s belly, an unknown hunger forsomething stolen’(Sojourner, 1). In the third stanza, the author has used imagery toexplain vividly what she thinks, the author says, ‘rescuehim from the depths of a stomach, and feed him the warm soil from aVirginia plantation’ (Sojourner,1).Imagery has repeatedly been used in the poem to enhance the readerhave a clear comprehension of what is been conveyed(Kuiper, 51).

Inmany stanzas of the poem, the author has used surrealistic language,ostensibly to surprise the reader and bring forth the messageintended. For instance, the author in the third stanza appliessurrealism language, ‘feedhim the warm soil from a Virginia plantation, and feed him pages frommy history books, heavy with lies’ (Sojourner,1), this presents the readers mind with illogical and strangeimaginations. The goal is to convey her rhetoric feelings in regardto the character-Jefferson. In general, the poem reflects the Haikupoetics in the way it has employed stylistic devices (Hartman,24-47).In addition, the poem reflects the sonnet poetics in its form thestanzas, lines and rhyming(Wordsworth, 123).

Thepoem reflects and adopts the modern poetic features in its stylisticdevices and form. Although the romanticism theme is not welldeveloped in the poem, the poem has been written in a personified,emotional and natural way. The language, form and stylistic devicesare employed to convey powerful feelings the poem reflects afiltration of natural emotions in context and form.

Theauthor has used a simple free verse poetic form (sonnet) to make thepoem easy to comprehend and make meanings (Sojourner, 1). Inaddition, there is a wide usage of allusion, imagery and surrealism.Although the poem does not fully adapt a metrical form in relation touniformity of stanzas and sentence lengths, there is an element ofpartial rhyming and rhythm this makes the poem easy to understandand interpret the thematic meaning.


Hartman,Charles O. ‘FreeVerse an Essay on Prosody.’ Northwestern University Press. 1980. pp.&nbsp24, 44, 47.

Kuiper,K. ‘Poetryand drama literary terms and concepts.’Britannica Educational Pub. In association with Rosen EducationalServices. 2011. p.&nbsp51.

SojournerAhebee, ‘valentine for Sally Hemings,’ Retrieved fromhttp://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/valentine-sally, 2014.

Wordsworth,William. ‘ThePoetical Works of Wordsworth.’Oxford University Press. London, 1960.