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homage to my hips

homage to my hips


by Lucille Clifton

Lines 11-15 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 11-12

these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.

  • If you didn't think that our speaker had fun with her hips before, these lines should change your mind.
  • Come on, how often do you look in the mirror and think, "man, those are some magic hips"? It's sort of hard to do without laughing – or at least smiling a little.
  • Notice how the two lines are almost identical? Heck, both adjectives even start with the letter "m"! This sort of repetition helps us to see the ways these two lines build upon each other. Her hips are magic because they're mighty – their powerfulness is part of their appeal.

Lines 13-15

i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

  • This is the first time in the entire poem that "I" appears…and it's near the very end of the poem. Introducing the speaker has a weird way of dissociating her from her hips – it's almost as if she's the observer, watching as her hips cast a spell on a man.
  • In case it's been a few years since you've played with tops, we should mention that they really, really spin! In fact, they tend to spin two ways: on their own axis and in larger circles. Why, then, does Clifton choose a top instead of, say, a pinwheel? We're betting that it has something to do with this double-spin. A man seduced by the speaker's hips isn't just spinning. He's SPINNING. It's a whole different kind of seduction!

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