Study Guide

A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long Stanza 8

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Stanza 8

Lines 43-50

But there was a world
Out there
And Mrs. Long opened that wardrobe
But no lions or witches scared me
I went through
Knowing there would be

  • When you see that conjunction "but" in the first line, you might feel a little alarmed. As in, "OMG, there's a world out there! It will crush your spirit! It will be scary!" 
  • Take a deep breath, gang. It's not so bad as all that. 
  • The young poet is making that leap into the larger world, one that she experiences through those books that Mrs. Long pays a price to secure.
  • This final stanza confirms that, yes, this poem is a coming-of-age piece.
  • Stanza 8 references C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in lines 46-48. In Lewis's work, the main characters first step into the world of Narnia via a wardrobe and find wonderful things there. But there's also eternal winter and dangerous creatures. 
  • Giovanni riffs on Lewis's set-up to show us that Mrs. Long's portal (her books) were unconditionally positive—no matter what was out in that great, big world, good things were coming.
  • In some ways, Giovanni is probably thinking about her own life. She would go on to college and become an important voice in her community and the world. 
  • But she's also talking about what would happen in society. Since Giovanni speaks of racial issues in stanzas 3, 4 and 5, she's likely thinking of the changes that she would experience in the '60s, '70s, and beyond.
  • Stanza 8 has a much more staccato feel to it. There are a lot of one- or two-word lines in here, which gives it a thudding, abrupt rhythm. Visually, it looks like we are funneling down to the end of the poem, like a final drop of water sluicing down a tap. (Check out "Form and Meter" for more on the way this poem's put together.)
  • The overall effect of this makes us pause, and gives each of these final words special significance. 
  • This is especially true of those single-word lines: "Somewhere" (44), "Out there" (45—okay, that's two words, but we're equating it with "somewhere"), and "Spring" (50). 
  • Each word acts as a stepping-stone toward that bright future that the young poet faces, courtesy of her mentors.

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