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The poem is about the speaker reminiscing about her father who has passed away. The opening line – “The Day? Memorial” – serves two purposes: it sets the poem in a period of time to add framework to the poem, and it serves to inform the reader that the poem itself is a memorial to the speaker’s deceased father. The opening stanza uses joyful imagery to depict this scene of her father making sherbet on Memorial Day. Through the author’s use of present tense and active voice, the speaker seems as if she is more than simply remembering this event; instead, she is “living” in this memory. In addition, the point of view in this opening stanza is first person-plural. This creates the sense that the speaker is narrating from the perspective of her family (“We cheered”).The next stanza uses a shift in voice to grab the reader’s attention; “That morning we galloped through the grassed-over mounds and named each stone for a lost milktooth.” The scene has changed as well as the tense used. The speaker is now in a graveyard (the imagery of this line – “grassed-over mounds” and “each stone” – hint that the setting is now a graveyard), and the use of of past tense verbs conveys how the graveyard is instead associated with the past. Notice how even the diction used (“milktooth” which is a ‘baby tooth’ that comes in before permanent teeth) even reflects this notion. This emphasis of the past provides contrast to the previous stanza, which uses present tense to intensify how the speaker is truly experiencing her memory as if it is the present. The speaker then goes on to describe how the sherbet tasted – the “lavender” is a nod to the color of grapes until the final stanza.This last stanza uses another shift in voice to begin. However, this shift is much more serious and abrupt than the previous in line nine; “We thought no one was lying there under our feet, we thought it was a joke.” The speaker is emphasizing how she was surprised by her father’s death, almost in a state of disbelief, comparing it to a news of a “joke.” Line twenty-five uses enjambment to intensify how the speaker has shifted into first person-singular (“I”). The final lines reveal the true meaning of the poem; “I’ve been trying to remember the taste, but it doesn’t exist. Now I see why you bothered, father.” Because the speaker’s father has passed, the speaker can no longer “taste” the sherbet. She now understands why her father “bothered” to create the sherbet: it served as a reminder of his life. In essence, this final line reveals the memory of sherbet to be a metaphor for the memory of the speaker’s passed father. This is further emphasized by the last line being one single word: father.”Grape Sherbet” ~ Rita DoveThe Day? Memorial.After the grillDad appears with his masterpiece – swirled snow, gelled light.We cheer.  The recipe’s a secret and he fightsa smile, his cap turned upso the bib resembles a duck.That morning we gallopedthrough the grassed-over moundsand named each stonefor a lost milk tooth.  Each dollopof sherbet, later,is a miracle,like salt on a melon that makes it sweeter.Everyone agrees – it’s wonderful!It’s just how we imagined lavenderwould taste.  The diabetic grandmotherstares from the porch,a torchof pure refusal.We thought no one was lyingthere under our feet,we thought itwas a joke.  I’ve been trying to remember the taste,but it doesn’t exist.Now I see whyyou bothered,Father.Why grape sherbet Cold, icyUsed to be carefree now gratefulQuestion then answer—re;axed conversational feel Shows setting as significantIntroduces speaker sfather–grilled a meal for everyoneAppears with his masterpeice–desrcribed in snesory glowing termsSherbet is greeted with cheersSherbet recipe is secret SpecialThinks he looks like a dukc, young lighthearted imageNow reverses to morning–confusingGallops through cemetery—GALLOP wieirdRunning happily, disregarding naems on stones–naming each for a milked babystoothThen flashes forward again with chidlren enjoyng sherbetEach spoonful a miracle Salt paradoxically makes melon sweeterOne thing makes another thing moreintensely itselfInnocence of children makes memorial day mor epoignant Just as salt on fruit makes it sweeterThird staza back to sherbetEveryone bseides father says its wonderfulCare free delight tastes like lavenderSenses fully engaged—synatheasia Taste the colorCounter happy light, a diabestic grandmother is described Looks on with disaproval Refuses toparticpipate stares from a distanceDescribed a s a torch–strong sharp counterbalnace to sherbetEStanza four presentReflectionFriveous delights of childhoodMemory is sweet and nostalgicWhen carefree they didnt remember the people dead under themThey thoguht it was a joke, father had tried to tell them significance of the day but they were tooHer cjhidllike inncoence i so distant she cant re,eber the tasteIs this one mmeroiral day or composite of allSkeleton–light to darkQuestionsWhy grape sherbet?Why this memory?Now i see why you bothered father?????Trying to rmemeber the tatse?? Of innocence???Why is the recipe a secret??Why the diabetic grandmother??Poem about grwing up?How does father playa role in that??VendlerSkeleton–light to darlk, cheers gma grave dead fatherMils tooth, chidlren dont know what death means–not same as losing a toothWanted her to assoicate happiness insetad of monring–celberate lives not mourn the deadFree verseInjambent Slowly becomes more personalBegins innocent–realiszation in reflectionWhat is the sinisfcance between childrens innocence and this grape sherbet? Does the sherbet represent inncoence” when the speaker says she cant remember the taste is that kind like when everything is revealed she cant go back to bein ignorant and careless?n like she is no longer a child and th nver has anothwr grape sherbet sice her dad is deadRita Dove shares personal poetry often set in the past. This sort of reflection is often coupled with nostalgia and emotionally charged. Doves poem “Grape Sherbet” shares a memory of the speakers family traditions on memorial day. Why her father held such a traditionThe happiness of that day doesnt exist Julia RosnerMrs. EarleEnglish 11 HRita Dove “Grape Sherbet” Essay “Grape Sherbet” by Rita Dove is an emotionally charged poem, reflecting on a speakers past memorial day traditions. The speaker shares a specific memory of visiting a cemetery and having a barbeque with her family. “After the grill”, her father would bring out his delectable dessert: grape sherbet. The speaker looks back on these memories with a nostalgic eye, as she recalls being innocent and carefree, unaware of the dark roots of memorial day. In the last stanza, when the speaker reflects on these memories, she comes to a realization. She considers the purpose of the grape sherbet and the thoughtful intentions of her father: to mask the the mournful memorial day with a sweet treat, and preserve his children’s innocence. Dove starts her poem by introducing the setting as memorial day, a day of remembrance for those who died serving our country. Dove directly introduces this setting in a question-answer format, “The Day? Memorial.”, clearly establishing the context of her memories. This setting is given its own line and its own sentence, with a period after “memorial”,  which hints to the holiday’s significance in the poem. This question-answer format is also very relaxed, almost like a conversation, setting the tone for the informal, free verse poem. This relaxed tone, makes the memories more personal and more real, while also expressing the carefree nature of the children. This first stanza also begins in the present tense, as if the speaker is reliving her memories. The rest of the first stanza is sweet and playful, as the father appears with his grape sherbet which is greeted with cheers. The pronoun “we” is used here (“we cheered”) showing a sense of unity amongst the tightknit family, and the general happy atmosphere and mood of the day. The father holds back a smile and the speaker thinks his bib looks like a duck with his hat turned upwards. This comment on the bib’s resemblance to a duck creates a silly and childlike image, which is representative of the speaker’s innocence in this memory. The second stanza builds off of the pure, childlike tone recently established by exposing the children’s naivety. However, dark imagery also beings to rise to the surface of this seemingly cheerful poem. This stanza flashes back to the morning before the grill, where the children playfully “galloped through the grassed-over mounds” marked with stones, which the reader can assume is a cemetary. A switch to the past tense is also noticed here, which could serve to show that the children no longer gallop through the graveyard. Now grown up, they are aware of what is buried in a graveyard, and have been stripped of the innocence that allowed them to carelessly gallop throughout it. This verb “galloped” helps to emphasize the ignorance of the children, as the reader pictures the children happily playing on the grounds, unaware of the death below them. The children then name each stone “for a lost milks tooth”, as if the cemetery was their playground and the children were simply playing a game of naming the gravestones. The milks tooth, being a baby’s tooth, touches upon the state of childhood innocence in which these children remain, and the beginning stages of their maturity as they physically and mentally grow older and begin to lose their teeth. The imagery of the white, milky, pure color of the teeth also emphasizes the sense of purity and innocence in the children; they innocently compare the loss of a life and the loss of a baby’s tooth, when naming the gravestones, showing the children’s lack of understanding of death and their ignorance of its presence. The setting then flashes forward again to later in the day, as the past tense also returns to the present. The grape sherbet is referred to as a “miracle”, as it saved the children’s innocence from the harsh reality of memorial day and it’s true depressing purpose. The grape sherbet on memorial day was then compared to salt on a melon. Just as salt makes a melon sweeter, the grape sherbet serves to be a “dollop” of joy, making memorial day less dreary and more lighthearted for the children, as well as for the rest of the family. The unity of the family is again touched upon in the third stanza, with the line “Everyone agrees–it’s wonderful”. This again shows the united happy mood of the family, and the role of the sherbet in creating this positive atmosphere. The family agrees that it tastes just as they “imagined lavender would taste”, which alludes to synaesthesia: when people can taste color (when senses are combined). This shows the connectivity that the grape sherbet brings amongst the family, and the full engagement of the family’s senses. Fully engaged, the children become distracted from the melancholy of memorial day, and the lavender colored grape sherbet serves its purpose.While the family happily enjoys their desert, a diabetic grandmother glares in disapproval. Unwilling to devour the desert that makes memorial day more sweet, she is separated from everyone on, and is compared to “a torch of pure refusal”. This comparison has a negative, almost dark feelings associated with it. A torch being some sort of flame clearly gives this grandmother a negative connotation, as does her refusal and separation. This negative energy feeds into the fourth and final stanza, one of dark realization and reflection.The last stanza begins with “we thought no one was lying there under our feet”. This is in the present tense, and the speaker is reflecting back on her memories. In the present, she realizes her ignorance and how she thought the concept of a graveyard was a game or a joke. She now understands the gravity of the holiday and of death. The speaker at this point, switches to referring to herself rather than the “we”. This takes the poem to a new personal level, as reflections and realizations are unique to every individual. The speaker says she’s “been trying to remember the taste, but it doesn’t exist”. This is in reference to the grape sherbet and how it represented her ignorance and her innocence. Now that she has grown up and reached her realization, her innocence is nonexistent, and she cannot remember the taste of the sherbet that masked the truth and the sorrow of memorial day. She considers her father’s intentions in making the sherbet, and finally understand why he did so. It gave his children and his family a positive memory to be associated with memorial day, allowing them to celebrate the deaths of those who served our country, instead of mourn them. Until the speaker reaches a point of maturity where she understands what memorial day is truly about, and the seriousness of it, the tone is lighthearted and uplifting. Her family cheers and gallops, while tasting the sweet sherbet. Silly and childlike comparisons are made to ducks, and a the speaker describes herself galloping across a graveyard, unaware of what’s beneath, which makes the speaker seem like a naive child. As the child matures, the voice changes and the tone shifts. The tone, whichs started so light and simple, darkens at the mention of the grandmother, and then reaches its climax at the first line of the fourth stanza: “we thought no one was lying there under our feet”. While this graveyard was previously hinted towards, and inferred by the reader, at this line, dark imagery is explicitly mentioned, and the speakers previous ignorance is confronted. This slow, dark progression mirrors the the process of growing up and maturation. The poem is at first told from a child perspective, and then the speaker matures as she acknowledges and becomes aware of dark, mature concepts. The entire poem is fairly uneven in terms of tone and voice (previously mentioned), rhythm, and rhyme. In terms of rhythm, each line is of a varying length, with no sort of pattern. This creates an uneasy feeling in the reader, and creates a rather choppy poem. The choppy nature of this poem, making the reader rather unsettled, accompanies the contradicting light and dark images in the poem. This uneven rhythm is coupled with uneven rhymes, creating more discomfort. In the beginning of the poem, several slant rhymes, such as “light” and “fights”, “galloped” and “dollop”, and “later” and “sweeter”, all leave the reader hanging on an uncomfortable note. Since these slant rhymes are all present in the beginning of the poem, where the speaker is the voice of an innocent child, their discomfort hints towards the second layer of meaning, beneath the seemingly lighthearted and simple beginning to “Grape Sherbet”. Towards the end of the poem, there are two true rhymes, which are both surrounded by more negative images. With the second of these two, “lying” and “trying”, the  two words each appear at the end of a line. However, two lines lay between them, and the words are not actually placed at the end of two sentences. This discreet rhyme connects to the melancholy of memorial day, hidden beneath the sherbet.

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