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Amniocentesis Essay, Research Paper


“Amniocentesis” is a 15 line poem written from the point of view of the author about being pregnant late in life. This poem consists of two stanzas, the first containing 6 lines and the second containing 9 lines. In the poem Wolfe comforts her unborn child during the surgical procedure that will require some of the amniotic fluid to be taken out of the womb so that the doctors can analyze it and determine whether or not the fetus has any genetic defects. In “Amniocentesis”, Wolfe uses free form structure, dramatic tone, and several vivid metaphors describing this event and suggests calmness and protection throughout the poem.

The structure of this poem is very simple. She uses no apparent rhyme scheme or rhythm at all, and most of the lines are short. The title of the poem tells exactly what the background is for this work so that the reader has a clear view of what is happening and can understand the metaphores she uses much more easily. In this poem Wolfe uses no punctuation at all, only capitalization at the beginning of certain lines, seemingly where a new sentence would begin. I think the reason Wolfe left out the punctuation is that she may have wanted the poem to flow even though the lines are short and chopped up, so without the abrupt stop at the end of the sentences the poem seems to flow more appropriately, which adds to the calming effect it has.

The tone of the author is what causes this great calming effect in this poem. Although her child is at high risk for having some kind of genetic disorder, she is very relaxed and calm. She is comforting her baby while the procedure takes place, informing it of the purpose of this act. I felt that there was a sharp contrast between the flow of the poem being calm and relaxing and the subject she is speaking of, her child’s possibility of having a genetic disorder. She does not seem to be worried about the outcome at all, she suggests worry and fear in lines 6 and 7, and in both contexts she uses the word “they” instead of “we”: “…they worry about you” and “These people who fear monsters…” She does not seem to worry about or fear anything. This may be because she is speaking to her unborn child, and in order to calm its fears she must assure it with her words. Deep down she may be feeling just as worried and afraid as “they” are. Also, an example that further implies the mood of this poem is in line 14 and 15 where Wolfe tells her unborn child to “Sing for them/ your perfect song” referring to its heartbeat. She seems sure of the health of her baby in these two lines.

The imagry Wolfe uses in this poem is what truley makes it so fascinating. Several metaphors are used throughout the poem, all very picturesque. The first one is in the first line of the poem: “Lie up under the umbrella of my ribs/my new island” which suggests the mother’s assurance of the child’s protection. Another example is when she describes the seringe as “….the thin throat” (line 3) and that it “samples your lake” (line 4) depicting the amniotic fluid. She is telling her child that the seringe will take part of the fluid to test it for what she calls monsters. She says that “These people who fear monsters/will be looking for monsters” (line 7-8) referring to those genetic disorders. Finally, perhaps the most beautiful of all her metaphors, the final two lines of the poem which I have already mentioned, “Sing for them/your perfect song” describing the baby’s heartbeat as a perfect song.

I believe Ellen Wolfe would have loved her child the same whether it turned out to be a “monster” or not. Her imagery suggests that throughout the poem. Her reasons for writing this poem may have been out of animosity towards the professional staff who’s best interest was to determine how healthy her child would be. She may not understand the aftereffects of the tests, what could they do if they did find something? All she wants is to protect and love her child. There are several instances that further illustrate this feeling. In this poem Wolfe uses free form structure, dramatic tone, and several vivid metaphors describing this event and suggests calmness and protection throughout the poem.


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