Gwendolyn Brooks: Poems

What We Ain't Got 12th Grade

In the poem “a song in the front yard,” Gwendolyn Brooks uses denotation and connotation to depict underlying meanings of specific words and phrases that add to the significance of the poem as a whole. Brooks uses denotation to refer to the reality of the speaker’s situation at hand, and connotation to express the comparison between the poem and her view about life.

The setting and title both have specific denotation and connotation. It opens with the line “I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life” (Brooks line 1). The denotation is a literal front yard with a young girl playing. She plays within the confinement of the boundaries that her mother sets for her. The denotation also functions to lead to imagery. For example, a picture of a little blonde girl in a soft pink dress and bows in her hair comes to mind. The connotation of the yard depicts a way of life that is monotonous and safe. The interpretation of their yard in this way sets the tone for the rest of what is going to happen and expresses the attitude of the speaker about her life.

The first stanza is full of a variety of connotations that immediately show the speaker's feelings toward her surroundings. The line that states, “A girl gets sick of a rose” (line 4) has...

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