Ode to Suburbia

Written by Eavan Boland
Presented by Michael Scaccia
• Ode: a poem meant to be sung
• Suburbia: a collective area of suburbs which are an area
outside a city
• Gape: to stare with a wide open mouth in wonder
• Varicose: abnormally or unusually large
• Cot: a bed like sleeping apparatus
• Sinews: source of power or strength
• Encroach: deviate from usual power, make new roads, trespass
• Spinster: a woman unmarried beyond normal age
• Man vs. Fate
• Power
• Tone
• Six O’clock: the kitchen
bulbs which blister
• Your Dark, your housewives
starting to nose
• Out each other’s day, the
• Of your back gardens
• With shrubs make an ugly
• Of you suburbia
• How long ago did the
glass in your windows
• Silver into mirrors which
• And again show the same
• Shriek at a child, which
• A dish, a brush, ash,
• The gape of a fish
• In the kitchen, the gape of
a child in the cot?
• You swelled so that when
you tried
• The silver slipper on your
• It pinched your instep and
the common
• Hurt which touched you
• You Human
• No creatures of your
streets will feel the touch
• Of a wand turning the wet
• Of fruit suddenly to a
• While this rat without
leather reins
• Or a whip or britches
• Slimming your drains
• No magic here. Yet you
encroach me until
• The shy countryside,
• By your plainness falls,
then rises
• From your bed changed,
• Forever by your skill,
• Your comprises.
• Midnight and your
• Is now complete, although
the mind
• Which spinstered now
might still miss
• Your mystery now, might
still fail
• To see your powers
• By this detail:
• By this creature drowsing
now in every house,
• The same lion who tore
• Once off zebras, who
now sleeps
• Small beside the coals
and may
• On a red letter day
• Catch a mouse.
• Suburbia refers to the communities and more often than not the
housewives that inhabit there (main character)
• Housewives are represented in this way due to how they are enveloped in
this environment and are therefore “shaped” by it
• Midnight is often referred to the magical hours of night in poem
• The narrator receives her imaginary powers during this time
• Most likely can refer to any period of time as suburbia's still
exist today and there are still housewives
• Context:
• It is similar to most of her poems as each stanza is comprised of 4 lines each
and a similar syllable count effective in each stanza
• This poem comprises of 7 stanzas with 6 lines each
• Syllable count varies with each individual stanza
• Meaning of the poem
• The poem takes place between the times of 6 a.m. and midnight
• This time involves a transformation from an urban mom to an individual with
freedom beyond imagination
• The audience of the his poem would mostly comprise of housewives
• A female (who is the persona of the speaker) narrates her lifestyle as she
is a victim of her environment and limited lifestyle
• Such constraints are her children and commitments
• She dreams to break away from this
• Claim: This poem presents two contrasting ideals of the
narrator’s world
• One is real and the other is imaginary
• This imaginary world is often mocked compared to being unrealistic
• This is compared to a lion eating a mouse
• The real world is hated and dull
• Represented by the “claustrophobia” and “ugly sister”
• Gape of a child should also be noted as the constant attention to children
is never ending
• Man vs. Fate
• The denial of present stance in the world of the narrator
• Fate will bring her back to reality the next day
• There is no perfect world
• Power
• Is a necessity to be obtained
• Provides the ability for independence
• Breaks free from traditional perspective of life
• Tone
• Full of despair in the beginning
• Infinitely tied to child and home
• Aspiration in the end
• Even a little freedom is asked for

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