17 September 2013
The Summer I Was Sixteen In the poem “The Summer I Was Sixteen,” American poet Geraldine Connolly describes the ideal summer for the average teen. It conveys how careless, celebratory, problem-free, and joyful youth is, and to enjoy it while it lasts. Through the use of tone, theme, and imagery, Geraldine Connolly paints a vivid picture for the reader of what its like to experience summer as a teenager. The poems tone did an excellent job of presenting cheerfulness and optimism. The poem frequently talks about the positive memorable times of Geraldine Connolly’s youth. It keeps this positive tone consistently throughout the poem and even goes on to describe specific joyful events that took place. One of the many events described was when the poet said “Oiled and sated, we sunbathed, rose and paraded the concrete” (l. 7). Connolly constantly talked about tanning in this poem. This is due to the fact that it was a big part of her life at the time. It is important to mention that Connolly used the word “Paraded” in the line above. This is important because it displays confidence and unity in the girls. Unity is a reoccurring symbol described in the poem. Connolly did this to show the importance of the group she was in. Geraldine Connolly also goes into detail about a specific event with her friends. This event was when Connolly writes “Past cherry colas, hot-dogs, Dreamsicles, we came to the counter where bees staggered” (10-11). It is important to note that the poet describes this event in great detail, showing that these memories are still very fresh and engraved into her mind. Connolly gives off the impression that she resents not appreciating these times while they happened. This is a constant reoccurring theme in the poem. Connolly talks above about “Bees staggering” (l.11). This phrase is more meaningful than many may notice at first glance. She says this to give off the summer vibe, which is, that no one was concerned about his or her protection. Not only did Connolly and her friends feel a sense of invincibility, but the bees did too, staggering into drinks. This gives us insight into the life and priorities of Connolly that summer. Staying safe was not of the greatest importance for Connolly that summer, and that is what gave her these memories that she wrote about. It is extremely important to divulge the constant use of the word “we” (3-15). The word “we” was used an astounding seven times. This repetition is supposed to act as a symbol. It is intended to show the how much the people experiencing these events with Connolly meant to her. Connolly constantly shows the reader that she care for her friends deeply, and would not have had these memories without them. This is yet another example of her conveying this. It is crucial to state that the word “we” is also known as an anaphora. I think the author does this to show the reader that all the events that took place in this poem took place in a group. She is trying to tell us subliminally that none of these great memories would’ve happen if it weren’t for her friends. A goal of the poet was to display to us through tone that her life as a teen was very carefree and done in a group and Connolly definitely achieved that goal.
The poems theme clearly presents how important it is to enjoy your youth and take advantage of it, because it doesn’t last forever. The poem also tries to convey the idea of having no regrets. Many keywords and phrases help the reader be lead to this conclusion. One of them was “Danced to the low beat of Duke of Earl, Past cherry colas, hot-dogs, dreamsicles” (l.9). This is talking about how they danced and lived life with no regrets, holding nothing back. The author is trying to tell us throughout the poem that she misses these times with her friends and wished she had appreciated them more while they lasted. Later in the poem Connolly shows a different side. She display