Short Analysis of Joy Harjo’s “Call It Fear”



In this poem Harjo talk about the fear of unknown. The poem builds around the word “edge” which gives idea about geographical space as well as psychological state. Hajro usually gives her poem an abs tract and concrete meaning at the same time.

In this poem she is expressing Native American people’s struggles as well as other oppressed people. There are a couple of different ways to view this poem because the language is expressed differently than how people normally speak or write.”Talk back wards” “breathe backwards” can also indicates as a form of resistance to the oppression because she is also writing back for the people who were driven to the edge from their land.  Fear is an edge that her spirit, symbolized by the horses, has a desire to break through. The horses are both “in their galloping flight,” thus attempting to run free and a “shadow of horses kicking / and pulling” her out of “her belly,” thus a gothic-type ghost, ripping out her guts. Her spirit is identifiably American because it represents the conflicts associated with a desire for freedom. The horse was an important spiritual icon to the Plains Indians and symbolizes power, strength, and survival. Harjo talks about the horse in these culture-specific terms but appropriates the horse as her own personal spirit animal that breaches the boundaries between American Indian myth and tradition and mainstream Anglo society. Harjo is concerned with personal, cultural, and spiritual survival. Horse is personified as good luck and the description suggest a transcended journey to the past to reconnect with her ancestor’s spirit. From the edge she takes a flight with the Horse but not to the ocean of fear but rather she take the flight to the past. In the Native American culture stories, myth and even words is filling with meaning and spirituality. Story telling is more like a ritual they share with each other. For Joy Harjo story telling is one if the way she thinks people can reconnect. Some critics suggested that “Sunday church singing” deals with the religious repression and guilty feeling that are rooted by the society and Harjo wants to break free from that. Her cultural believe in spiritual aspect of religion.

Harjo writes about and for the people who have lost their identity, land and have stories to tell. She wants to write a different version of history through her poems. “I’m writing first of all for myself…I want to write poems that excites me, first of all. But I also write for a larger community, with a sense of who I am and where I came from-that spirit of history.”


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