"Facing It" Analysis

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“Facing It” Poetry Analysis After serving his country in the Vietnam War, Yusef Komunyakaa pens the poem “Facing It”. In the poem, “Facing It”, Komunyakaa uses personal emotion, word association and symbolism to convey his message of grief and sadness when visiting the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial for the first time. Although Komunyakaa returned from war years before, the memories still haunt him. Like many war veterans, he is obviously facing life with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He is overcome with grief as he vividly recalls the flashbacks that he faces when visiting the Memorial for the first time. He is confronted by raw emotion and is determined not let his thoughts consume him. He fights back the tears, “I said I wouldn’t, dammit: No Tears (Komunyakaa 3,4)” that he promised himself not to allow anyone to see. While a simple goal it was not one that is easy to achieve. Although he was a Veteran of the Vietnam War, his grief and pain are reminiscent of most war veterans. He struggles with his emotions at seeing the names of fellow war hero’s. It is almost as though his mind is clouded. He visualizes his name in smoke on the wall, when in reality the names are etched in stone. Fortunately, his name disappears as fast as it appears, but his inner turmoil has not. Komunyakaa’s poem is full of symbolism used to bring us closer to his physical being. He speaks of the color of the granite memorial that matches the color of his skin. By saying “My black face fades, hiding inside the granite (Komunyakaa 1,2),” he lets us know that he is an African American man. He talks about turning this way and that, and it appears the stone let’s go of him…depending on the light. He says “I’m stone. I’m flesh (Komunyakaa 5)”. This gives us the feeling that he is almost invincible, but then he immediately brings himself back by saying he is flesh. Komunyakaa
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