The Grandmother by Ray Young Bear 

The Grandmother by Ray Young Bear 

The poem “The Grandmother” is by the American Indian poet and novelist Ray Young Bear. The poet concentrates on his grandmother and presents her as an all-loving, galvanizing person, as he has tried to manifest his intimate relationship with her by showing deep love, affection, and respect towards her.

The Grandmother by Ray Young Bear

In his poem, The Grandmother, an American-Indian poet paints a portrait of his grandmother, all-loving and all-inspiring, in his poem. His grandmother would wear a purple scarf around her head for warmth, and she would go to the market with a plastic shopping bag in her hand. Her shape was also quite remarkable. Even from a distance, the poet could tell she was his grandmother. She would wash her hands after returning home from labor in the field. They were moist and smelled like roots. She’d place her hands on his head and gently caress it.  Even before he saw her face, the smell and warmth would lead him to believe it was his grandma.

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The poet would occasionally visit her tomb. He imagined hearing a voice coming from the tombstone. He could feel her words flowing through him like a torrent. They would motivate him. He would find a glimmer of optimism in his bleak life. He’d recall the frigid winter night when they were shivering. His grandma would wake up and try to move the fire, which was covered in thick lashes, and he would watch her from his bed and pray that the open fire would warm his body.

The poem not only reflects the poet’s love and respect for his grandmother, but it also utilizes her as an example of Native American culture. It tries to pay tribute to his Native American grandmother. It is dense with symbolism and imagery that paints a picture of a typical Mesquaki grandma and her home culture. The poem’s grandmother looks like she’s all-loving and affectionate. The poem feels like a kind of loss for his grandmother and expresses his strong desire to be with her.

The poet has used all of his sensory perceptions to comprehend his grandmother’s brilliance. The poet uses his eyes in the opening section of the poem to distinguish between his grandmother’s shape, her purple scarf, and a plastic shopping bag. In the middle part of the poem, he uses his skin and nose to recognize his grandmother’s warm and damp hand on his head, and he gets the ancestral smell from her. In the final section of the poem, the poet employs his keen sense of hearing to hear her words in the place of his birth. In this way, the poet has successfully drawn a picture of his grandmother with various images that appeal to all the senses.

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The poem’s final phrase, “I’d know her words would flow into me like the light of someone sharing ashes from a sleeping fire night,” expresses the poet’s emotions. He means that the wisdom he got from his grandmother helped him search for the identity of the Native American people. He finds his grandmother a great teacher of the depth of the past and the lessons of life in the present time. In addition, the poet believes his grandma to be all-loving and all-inspiring. “Warm and damp” shows how deeply she loved him, and “her words flow inside me like light” shows how the poet was inspired by her.

In this poem, the poet has described his grandmother, her behavior, and her deep-rooted love, and also reminded us that she remains a source of inspiration in his life. His love for his grandmother is so deep that he can easily recognize her shape and voice even from a far distance.

 The purple scarf represents the winter clothing of traditional American-Indian ladies. A plastic grocery bag represents a person’s poverty. The good impact of fading culture is represented by damp and warm hands. The smell of roots represents the power of the original culture, which allows identity to be identified. Finally, the grandmother’s voice demonstrates the strength of his culture’s teachings in inspiring him to pick the right ways in his quest for equality and freedom.

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