In “Rooming Houses are Old Women” by Audre Lorde and “The Secretary Chant” by Marge Piercy, both poets express the lives of older women. Both poems express how older women feel about themselves now. They are not how they use to be, and they are not up to modern day. However, both poets took a different approach to express their views. In Lorde’s poem she addresses the well- being of old, poor women. Whereas, Piercy’s poem expresses how the women feel about their body due to her career tiredness.
In “Rooming houses are old women” by Audre Lorde, the characters are portrayed as old poor women stuck in their own ways. The poet compares them to rooming house and old things inside. Those things such as, dark windows, compares to the women loneliness. The poem shows a sense of unprivileged black women stuck in old womanism. The poet portrays the women as old and have no value, and they are stuck in isolation from the modern world. They believe in old fashioned ways. Also, how things are not interesting to them anymore. They are just living their days away. They are used to a life of disappointments. A line in the poem states “... to Welfare and insult form the slow shuffle” (580). This statement expresses how the women have gotten old and have nothing to do and watch everyone around them life move along.
In Marge Piercy’s poem, “The Secretary Chant,” the poet express tiredness and how the character is stuck in a professional environment. The poet expresses the character’s body comparing in to many lifeless objects. The poem displays how women get dehumanized in a career. Also, her career has became her life. The woman is dead to the world except her job. This poem expresses how the job of secretary can be overwhelming for a woman. She is nearly taking advantage of because she is woman and continuously take orders mainly in a male workplace. The character has lost concept of herself and only live her life around her career. Line 1 of the poem states “My hips are a desk…,” this expresses the characters absences of sex appeal and reproduction; her body has become boring. My navel is a reject button/ Swollen, heavy, rectangular/ I am about to be delivered/of a baby/Xerox machine stated in Piercy’s poem “Secretary Chant” ( lines 15-20), these lines explain what the woman thinks of childbirth and fertility; as if having a baby is dead and its all about her career.
In both “Rooming house are old women,” by Audre Lorde and “Secretary Chant,” by Marge Piercy, the characters life is passing them by and no longer theirs anymore. They feel useless to the world. Also, they are both accustomed to the environment they are in. Their environment has become their life and all they know. However, in Lorde’s poem the women are stuck in isolation and not worried about nothing else. They are just passing their days by and continuing to be in their old- fashioned ways and environment. Whereas, in Piercy’s poem the character is an overworked and unappreciated woman in her workplace. She has literally become her career and that is all her life revolves around.
In conclusion, both poems portray the life of women adjusting to their environment. Even though, the poets approach them differently, it still expresses struggles of the women and the way they think of themselves. They compare themselves to lifeless objects in their environment that surrounds them every day. They do not feel the same about themselves and they no longer have a sense of life for themselves as women.
- Lorde, Audre. “Rooming houses are old women.” Portable Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing, edited by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, 9th ed., Wadsworth, 2016, pp. 579- 80.
- Piercy, Marge. “The Secretary Chant.” Portable Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing, edited by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, 9th ed., Wadsworth, 2016, pp. 584- 85.
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