Hanging Fire Poem By Audre Lorde | Literary Devices, Summary and Analysis of Hanging Fire oem

Hanging Fire Poem: About the Poet, The poet is an American self-acclaimed “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,”. She was born on February 18, 1934, in New York City. Her parents were immigrants from the West Indies.

Audre Lorde studied at Hunter College and Columbia University and was a librarian for several years before publishing her first volume of poetry, First Cities, in 1968.

Her second volume, Cables to Rage (1970), which Audre Lorde mainly wrote during her term as poet-in-residence at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, depicted her interpretations and thoughts regarding love betrayal, childbirth, and the complexities of raising children. It is especially remarkable for the poem “Martha,” in which Lorde readily confirms her homosexuality for the first time in her writing: “[W]e shall love each other here if ever at all.”

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

She used her writing to voice against the injustice mated out people on the backdrop of racism, sexism, classism, capitalism, heterosexism, and homophobia.

Audre Lorde was nominated for the National Book Award for poetry in 1973 for the book “From a Land Where Other People Live. This book highlights Lorde’s personal conflicts and struggles with identity and anger at social injustice present from time unknown. The volume deals with the subjects of anger, isolation, and inequality and what it means to be a black woman, mother, friend, and beloved.

Summary of Hanging Fire Poem

This poem is about the adolescent period of a girl. This period is the toughest period for any individual. During this time, everyone goes through a lot of changes and realisation.

It is the most vulnerable period of one’s life. The poem is written from the soul perspective of a fourteen-year-old girl who conveys her feelings and thoughts rather directly without much beating around the bush.

It highlights the different insecurities one faces and the fairy tales one dreams about. How certain expectations from society play an important role in moulding a teenager’s mindset is beautifully portrayed here.

Each stanza’s ending lines embark upon the generation gap and the inability to converse with her mother. A conversation with her mother would probably ease out her self-doubts and all other problems.

The narrator craves acceptance and self-confidence.

This poem dawns upon the mental fatigue and the emotional imbalance caused to a child from the absence of a parent.

Hanging Fire Poem Literary Devices

The major language used in the poem is the figurative type. The use of the lines “and momma’s in the bedroom /with the door closed” at the end of each stanza depicts the conversation gap between the narrator and the mother. It has been mentioned three times which conveys the importance of the lines.

Analysis of Hanging Fire

Stanza one

“I am fourteen

and my skin has betrayed me

the boy I cannot live without

still sucks his thumb

in secret

how come my knees are

always so ashy

what if I die

before morning

and momma’s in the bedroom

with the door closed.”

The poem starts with a teenager’s voice who conveys the various insecurities she faces at fourteen. She thinks that her skin has “betrayed” her, bringing forward how she is at war with herself and is very self-conscious. The phrase “the boy I cannot live without” highlights every teenage girl’s most common fantasy- a knight in shining armour.

The man of her dreams is not matured enough, which is brought to light by using words like “still sucks his thumb”.She is worried about her external appearance and how ashy her knees appear.

She is occupied with the thoughts of her death and how her death. All these issues of isolation, self-doubt is often seen as common among teenagers. However, the most striking problem of her is that she finds her mother beyond her reach. The emotional support one gets from a mother seems to be unavailable to her.

Stanza Two

“I have to learn how to dance

in time for the next party

my room is too small for me

suppose I die before graduation

they will sing sad melodies

but finally

tell the truth about me

There is nothing I want to do

and too much

that has to be done

and momma’s in the bedroom

with the door closed.”

These lines embark upon the idea of peer pressure and how it affects all young minds. The narrator sees it as a pressure to learn dance before the onset of the next party. It is as if the acceptance of the narrator in a friend circle is dependent on it.

Although she mentions that she needs to learn dancing, which indicates her improving her social status, she does not really want to do anything. This attitude of hers is a hint towards a resignation point where she has no idea how to proceed with life.

She lacks the much-needed guidance from her mother and pines her presence. She is apprehensive about how the world will react to her death. She is sure that initially, they will mourn her death but eventually will spill the truth. However, ambiguity remains there with the term “truth”. It probably suggests that the narrator has not achieved much in life to be specified after her death.

Stanza Three

“Nobody even stops to think

about my side of it

I should have been on Math Team

my marks were better than his

why do I have to be

the one

wearing braces

I have nothing to wear tomorrow

will I live long enough

to grow up

and momma’s in the bedroom

with the door closed.”

This stanza brings forward the underlying gender discrimination girls have to face daily. It highlights that despite getting more marks, she could not make her way into the “Math Team”. However, a random boy referred to as “his” gets placed in the team with lesser grades.

She exclaims her unwillingness to wear braces. She wonders why should only she wear braces. The underlying tone suggests the strict beauty standards present in a society that influences teenagers greatly.

The constant pressure of going by society’s set rules and the urge to impress everyone is evident from the line “I have nothing to wear tomorrow”. She is apprehensive of how inadequate her clothes are and how she might be the one to be secluded.

The narrator is on a quandary about whether she will live long enough to grow up and leave the braces behind. The girl’s preoccupied thoughts about death are repeated here, which traces the fact that the girl has no wish to live long.

Most of the anguish she faces is probably from the absence of her mother. Her mother has little to no role or effect in her life. Her loneliness also presumably stems from this idea of being abandoned by her mother.