Parenthood can often times be complicated. There is no manual given at the time of birth to guide a new parent in the right direction. A parent can only do their best and pull from their own past experiences in life. In Wanda Coleman’s poem “Requiem for a Nest,” the poem, upon first glance, seems to be about a naïve bird building “her dream palace” (line 1) but upon further reading, certain elements in the poem suggest that the speaker is referring to parenthood and the inevitable hardships that come along with it.
The title of this poem immediately suggests a negative tone. The word, requiem, means a mass or solemn chant for the dead and “Requiem for a Nest” suggests that there can only be death and misfortune in the nest. A requiem is also something that is kind of beautiful. Coleman chose the word requiem because the poem is set in nature and there is something beautiful about ...view middle of the document...
The tone of the poem can be related directly to life. Often parenthood can be exciting and fresh in the beginning but can quickly take a turn for the worst. With all of the terrible things that go on in the world, it is easy to feel like life is doomed.
The poem consists of only two stanzas, each varying in lines.
the winged thang built her dream palace
amid the fine green eyes of sheltering bough
she did not know it was urban turf
nor did she know the neighborhood was rife
with slant-mawed felines and those long-taloned
swoopers of prey. she was ignorant of the acidity & oil
that slowly polluted the earth, and was never
to detect the serpent coiled one strong limb below
Here there are examples of consonance while in the second stanza there are examples of assonance at the end of each line. Coleman contrasts the hard consonant sound with the innocence of the bird and the beautiful imagery in the first two lines. While in the second stanza the tone of poem has become much more dark but flows better with the help of the repetitive assonance.
following her nature she flitted and dove
for whatever blades twigs and mud
could be found under the humming blue
and created a hatchery for her spawn
not knowing all were doomed
The last literary element that contributed to the theme of the poem was the lack of any capitalized letters. This element creates an unassuming feel to the form of the poem. Coleman does this because this poem isn’t a warning. The poem isn’t supposed to feel aggressive. Coleman simply wanted to share a fact about the world and the way it works through her eyes.
The theme of the poem can be interpreted as the strife of parenthood but also the hardship that comes with all things in life. All of the elements that are incorporated in the poem suggest this theme. The poem is beautiful as a poem about a naïve bird but Coleman intended this poem to mean so much more. Coleman meant for the poem to be about life.
Coleman, Wanda. “Requiem for a Nest.” Ostinato Vamps. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003.