“Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye Analysis

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Introduction of “Famous”

“Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye is a thought-provoking poem. It first appeared in 1995 in Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Far Corner Books. This brilliant composition revolves around the idea of being famous. The poem presents the writer’s personal reviews regarding name and fame. Moreover, it brilliantly highlights how one can achieve the desired satisfaction and fame by performing insignificant tasks in life.

Short Summary of “Famous”

Famous presents us with the stark comparison of fame versus transience beauty of life. To the writer, fame depends on one’s perception. To make readers understand her point, she presents various philosophical comparisons to show how different things are famous for something. For instance, the river is famous for the fish, tear is famous for the cheek. Also, a loud voice is famous for silence, and sleeping cat is famous for the birds.

Unlike these objects, the speaker also wants to be famous by shuffling men who pass by. She also wants to be known like buttonhole or pulley not because they perform a significant task but because they never quit their job. Thus, the writer enforces the idea that God has not created anything useless in the world. Even the tiny and unnoticeable objects are performing important tasks in the world.

Major Themes

The poem displays various themes such as fame, the transience of life, satisfaction, and human beings’ adaptive nature. Throughout the poem, the writer talks about many things that remain unnoticed. She presents different connections between unimportant things using her intellect and philosophical approach. Then, she narrates her perception of being famous. She does not wait long for grandeur or exceptional achievement to become famous. Instead, her definition of fame limits to value and acknowledgement.

Analysis of Literary/Poetic Devices Used in “Famous”

Literary and poetic elements are used to bring richness, depth and clarity to any poetic piece. Their clever use connects readers to the writer’s ideas and perceptions. Naomi has also added poetic and literary elements to the poem to make it the finest read. She has used symbolism, imagery, irony, metaphors and other devices in the poem.

The first evident device that she used is imagery. Using images like fish, cats sleeping, loud voices and crossing streets, she has skilfully created an environment for the readers. These images will lead the audience to value and acknowledge the often ignored things.

The second important device is a metaphor. Naomi has used famous as an extended metaphor in the poem to establish how fame sounds differently. She has also used symbolism in the poem to connect her readers to her unique ideas. Using natural objects symbolically presents her close mediation. The writer has chosen each relationship carefully to showcase the miscellany of the meaning of fame.

Another significant device is irony. The poem’s ending lines display the dramatic irony, where the writer wishes to become famous like a “buttonhole” and “pulley.” While describing the reason for these strange desires, she comments that these two never forget their purpose.

Besides these devices, she has also used quatrain, tercet, free verse, consonance and assonance in the poem. The stylistic construction of the poem gives it a ruminating, conventional tone. The variation in stanza forms allows the writer to develop a spontaneous flow of powerful images. This unique structure provides this poem with a unique and thoughtful feel.

In-depth Analysis of “Famous”

For full poem please Visit: “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Stanza#1 (Lines 1-4)

In the first stanza, the writer creates engaging and ordinary phrases to reveal how certain things are famous for something. She tries to draw our attention to the unnoticeable yet important things using analogies. For example, only fish knows the importance of the river as it survives in water. Moreover, a loud voice is famous for silence. Without a loud voice, silence seems to be something unimportant. As soon as the loud voice disturbs the quiet environment, one understands the value of quietness.

Stanza#2 (Lines 5-9)

In this stanza, the writer presents us with different analogies. For example, a sleeping cat on the fence is famous to those birds who watch him constantly from their tiny houses. The writer also talks about cheeks, tears and bosom to highlight that fame is fleeting. It sheds light on the transient nature of the fame that alludes us.

Stanza#3 (Lines 9-14)

The writer further expands the idea of fame in these lines. She describes the relationship between earth and boot and between the photographer and the person who carries it. Using these analogies, the speaker suggests that the definition of fame may vary from person to person.

Stanza#4 (Lines 15-18)

In this stanza, the poem shifts the narrative. Now, the writer sheds light on her version of being famous. She doesn’t mean to be famous due to fame’s traditional definition. She would rather wish to be important to the men who are overlooked. Also, she would be well-known to sticky children whose parents’ get distracted in the grocery lines. Smiling back at these souls makes the speaker feel famous.

Stanza#5 (Lines 19-21)

In the final lines, the writer uses a metaphor to compare fame to a pulley or buttonhole work. These life-changing and life-ending things are simple yet helpful. They play an important role in making one’s life better. In other words, the speaker does not want to change the world. Instead, her version of fame limits to the positive impact which she desires to cast on the world.

See Also:

Why does Walt Whitman use the word “singing” in the title “I Hear America Singing”?

“The Flying Cat” by Naomi Shihab Nye

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