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homage to my hips

homage to my hips


by Lucille Clifton

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

Poetry is chock-full of odes and homages and songs of praise to just about object under the sun. There's "Ode to a Grecian Urn," for starters. Oh, and "Ode to a Nightingale." And let's not forget the ever-popular "Ode to the West Wind." We get shivers just thinking about it.

"homage to my hips" isn't breaking new ground in terms of praising a thing. Just so you know, an "homage" is a form of paying respect to someone or something. In this case, we're respecting the speaker's hips…and that's precisely where this title starts to get interesting.

In case you haven't noticed, there are entire industries devoted to making women feel pretty crummy about their body parts. You can buy wrinkle cream for your face, a Stair-master for your butt, and all kinds of surgery for just about every body part you can imagine. Try watching TV. for an hour – we bet you won't be able to avoid seeing somebody who wants you to cough up $29.95 to make your abs/arms/ankles look better than they do right now.

We know right from the start, though, that this poem is taking all of those industries head-on. Our speaker's not just proud of her body – she's so happy with her hips that she's dedicating an entire poem to them. Talk about a good body image! And read on, folks, because the appreciation doesn't stop with the title!

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