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Posted April 12, 2004
Alicia's Review of Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove
Thomas and Beulah is a delightfully ¿cute and cuddly¿ book. It is the kind of book one curls up to read in a warm comfy spot. The poet takes the reader on a journey through a biography and an autobiography of Thomas and Beulah¿s lives. The cleverness of the poetical scheme is that the reader has an opportunity to know two different points of view in many of the poems. For example, Courtship is written as Thomas¿ reflection and Courtship, Diligence is written from Beulah¿s perspective. It¿s fun to compare and contrast the two poems, find irony, and most of all find a relationship. Furthermore, this book is written in chronological order throughout Thomas and Beulah¿s lives. The author provides a chronology page in the back of the book which I found essential to understanding the meaning in many of the poems. The book is best read from beginning to end, as it does tell a story. After reading the poems, a reader gets to know the personalities of the two characters, and can find many repeating symbolic colors, objects, or words expressed throughout the two sets of poems. Such an example would be the ¿mandolin¿ which is noted several times in just the few first poems of Thomas¿. And moreover, the color ¿yellow¿ seems to be an important key to expressing emotion in many of Beulah¿s poems and can even be compared to the ¿yellow¿ in Thomas¿ poems. In particular, Courtship, as mentioned above, describes a ¿yellow scarf¿ in which he wore proudly and confident to entice Beulah to be his wife. Thomas wanted to prove that he had the means to take care of her, and the yellow scarf said it all. Contrasting, Courtship, Diligence, depicts a not as pleasant picture of the color yellow. Beulah describes, ¿A yellow scarf runs through his fingers as if it were melting¿Not that scarf, bright as butter. Not his hands, cool as dimes.¿ Beulah obviously sees the yellow scarf as being an unappetizing color; butter yellow gives a negative connotation of being thick and greasy. And the confidence in the color yellow in Thomas¿ poems sharply contrasts Beulah¿s depiction of Thomas¿ nervousness . The poems also offer much humor. It is sweet and funny journey through Thomas¿ rendition of continuously producing baby girls. ¿Girl girl girl girl¿, says Thomas in Compendium, he always wanted a son. Variation on Gaining a Son is a poem about Thomas¿ daughter, Rose, marrying a war veteran in 1945. Here Thomas for the first time feels he has a son when he sees the young man nervously swallow after he realizing what he had just done; Thomas could relate. Beulah also mentions motherhood in her poems, and all that comes along with it. She writes of scary bad dreams about her children in the poem Motherhood. Daystar is a poem about her finding time for herself away from her hectic schedule. Rita Dove even takes the reader through the death of the characters. It is clear this is no ordinary book, and Dove¿s plan of format is fresh and unordinary. The language of the poems really speak to the reader, presenting ordinary objects and emotions of life in creative ways. I highly recommend this book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 27, 2004
Fall in love all over again
On first picking up the book Thomas and Beulah, I had no idea what to expect from Rita Dove. Just looking at the picture-perfect portrait of the young African-American couple on the front of the book made me curious to see what kind of story these poems would tell. From the very first page of Thomas¿ section, Mandolin, I became engulfed in the movie-like pictures that were running through my mind as I read through the stanzas. One of the great things about Dove¿s writing is the way that this story actually plays out in your head; first you learn of Thomas, young and fresh and ready to take on the world. You see his daily activity in Akron, Ohio, his love of music and his love of a woman. Such brilliant descriptions of colors and smells and even physical sensations place you right there in the same room as Thomas. As you hear the noises all around you, from page to page, there sounding next to you, you can feel Thomas¿ passion for everything that he comes in contact with. Beulah¿s section Canary in Bloom is filled with just as much sensory, if not more, than Thomas¿. Reading the woman¿s point of view was so much more intimate and passionate that it made me see the true harmony that existed between the two worlds. It¿s so easy to feel connected to both of the characters because they give you so much insight as to what they are experiencing. The ups and downs of their everyday lives show you that they are just real as you and me, yet never have I looked into anyone¿s life as closely as these two have opened their doors for me. Looking at the same moments in time from Beulah¿s point of view after having read Thomas¿ was fascinating! It made me want to go back and re-read Thomas¿ half all over again and compare the likeness of the two. What a captivating idea to be able to see through the eyes of two lovers, to put yourself into the shoes of someone so long ago, with so many feelings and so much emotion that it captures your attention and won¿t let go! I especially thought it was very helpful to me as a newcomer to the world of poetic literature to find the chronology of Thomas and Beulah¿s lives in the back of the book. To capture everything from their births, to their children¿s births, to their own deaths really forces the reader to become a part of the characters and feel a longing to bond with the two. I personally enjoyed reading this book (all three times that I have read it) and would definitely recommend this book to others who are interested, whether you are a poetry professional or a beginner to the experience of poetry like myself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 7, 2009
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