The poem Daystar by Rita Dove depicts women’s lives in the role of a mother and a wife. The author illustrates the state of loneliness of the protagonist, as well as the peacefulness of her quiet moment of the day. It is also reflected in the title of the poem. The rest of the day is an echo of dreamed stillness. The emotional feelings and physical world clash to create unique imagery of personal experience. Dove builds universal symbolic representation in a specific image. Hence, peace and misery are intertwined together in the poem through literary devices and contextual framing.
The comparison and contrast throughout the poem create the plot. The first stanzas indicate the imagery approach of the text. The opposition to the mental process against the reality of diapers sets the tone. Later perceiving nature, closing her eyes, the protagonist sees “vivid blood” (Dove 159). It shapes the anticlimactic flow of the central stanza. From this point, reality takes away the notion of established peace. All that is left is only the vague idea of stillness, achieved alone. This idea of the woman enjoying being “pure nothing” reflects her enormous responsibilities during the day (Dove 159). Thus, the central plot is the concept of easing the burden of women’s duty as a blessing, even for a short time.
The literary devices support the shaping of the desired mood of the poem. The uneven rhythm of free verse is accompanied by the use of enjambment to create unnatural pauses. While the verse mimics the variable flow of life, the literary device parallels the feeling of interruption, which the protagonist feels. Dove utilizes graphic devices using italics, emphasizing the daughter’s confusion “what was mother doing out” (Dove 159). The sentence has an accusatory tone, implying that she did something unappropriated. The lexical units also complement the life depiction. Her husband’s action is described through the word “lurched,” which possesses a negative connotation with unpleasing associations. Contrast is created when she considers her moment grand and joyous, described as a “palace.” Thus, stylistically, Dove separated the woman’s dream and reality worlds.
Therefore, the poem shapes the picture of one day in a woman’s life. Through literary devices and plot points, readers form an understanding of the burden of responsibility. The protagonist feels calm and pleased for one hour a day. Dove reflects the reality of exhausting mothers’ and wives’ duties, frequently overlooked in the literature.
Dove, Rita. “Daystar” Collected Poems 1974-2004, W. W. Norton & Co., 2016, pp. 158-159.