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by Rita Dove

Analysis: Calling Card

Violence at a Low Rumble

One of the more impressive things about "Parsley" is how it hints at a vast amount of death without actually – save a few spots – going right out and saying it. Instead of railing against political injustice, or trying to do in poetry what we might see on the news – blood and gore and shock-value – the poem works at its subject through a parrot and a field of sugarcane. These are, on the surface, entirely innocuous (that is to say, innocent) things, but the poem turns them into symbols for so much more. Thus, the whole piece becomes super-tense with all this hinting at violence but not actually saying it. It's pretty effective, we think. Mastering subtlety about events like this is no easy feat.

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