Message Received: On “The Messenger” by Mario Meléndez
Click here to read the poem.
Judgement, and failure to accept change are two things that hold our society back from positive evolution. Those two themes are quite evident in “The Messenger”. The reader never sees the words the “poet” wrote, yet they know it is something that can offend. When reading this poem, I see the “she” as a teacher, reciting this poem to a younger and more impressionable generation, the “children”, or her students. Whether this be about race, religion, gender, or politics, these children are impacted by it. They are impacted enough to have their parents livid enough to end the word’s time on earth for good. The parents did not kill the teacher. They did not kill the poet, but they did kill the poet’s words.The words are of change, words that would threaten the ideals and values that the parents had when they were the children. The parents, while angry, could not care less about the poet. Though, Death still brings the message that the poet has in fact died… ”Come with me today we’re in mourning” “Who died” asked the poet” “Well, you,” replied death and death extended his arms to offer condolences”… . Showing that, his thoughts, his fight, his values lived through these words. Without them, he is nothing, and once they are gone, he will never be anything again. We see the form of the Messenger taken by multiple characters. One could say it is the She…”She took the words for a stroll”… . Or it could be the children “The children told their parents”… . Or Death … “Dressed in Sunday best to stop by the house of the poet”… . The only person who can not be the Messenger is the poet himself, because he is the only one that dies. The children, death, and even the elusive she is not killed or already dead. Very much emphasizing, “Don’t shoot the messenger” theme. Again supporting the notion that the words in the poem are not uncommon words of change. These words are also in a place where they can be removed very quickly. Showing, that the poet took a great risk writing their poem. Though they had a risk, the poet still pushed through any violence that may come, and wrote. Meaning this is very important for people to hear. Yet the risk did not pay off, as death took the poet away. No matter who the Messenger is or what the poem says, one thing can be taught from understanding the poem. Death has very little patience.
When looking at this poem, and any poem at all, the easiest way to learn the flow of the story is identifying the characters and how they impact each other. For the first couple of days with the poem I was only getting the big picture of the poem, which does not help you write a detailed project on it. Yet, when I started to look at how each one of the characters reacted to the line before, my ideas started to come flooding through. My ideas developed the more I thought about the poem without looking at it. That helped me connect different ideas to larger topics.
Melendez, Mario. “The Messenger.” Poetry Translated by John Normile, September 2017 Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/143949/the-messenger-5 988d061408f6 Accessed September 25, 2017.