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homage to my hips

homage to my hips

by Lucille Clifton

The Female Body, Dissected

Symbol Analysis

With all the magic and power that Clifton is able to elicit by describing a woman's hips, we're a little scared to think about the strength she could unleash if she were to take on an entire body! This poem operates through the repetition of a single poetic technique: synecdoche. A synecdoche is a form of figurative language in which a part (hips) stands in for a whole (woman). Check it out:

  • Lines 4-5: Sure, the speaker's hips may not fit in small chairs. More importantly, though, the speaker herself isn't willing to be trapped in a petty little understanding of who or what she is. She won't be contained by petty stereotypes.
  • Lines 9-10: It's a bit hard to imagine the hips moving around without taking the rest of the woman along with them! Once again, our speaker's hips stand in for the whole person.
  • Lines 14-15: Maybe it was just the sight of these magical hips which seduced a man, but we're betting that he was attracted to the whole package!

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