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Question: Analyse the poem New Skin by Phillipa Yaa De Villers. Beware the bright snake slow on a branch, its old skin, transparent and thin, behind it. The forest holds its breath: the snake looks painted, still life, still, alive and dangerous. The new skin is a scar. A scar is an emblem of healing, unbearable the air’s weight on a new skin. It’s fangs are primed to poison curious fingers; beware the fearsome sensitivity of a new skin. Beware the bright snake of a new dispensation, remember the sting of skinned knees: you also know the pain of change. Lost equilibrium. The strike, of fangs bared, blood forced to the surface. There are no accidents. Calamity, evolution all produce the same results. The air on new scales weight the same as a landslide in Chile. Change is not personal attack. If you turn nature into the enemy, you will lose. Beware the bright snake slow on a branch, its old skin, transparent and thin, behind it.
"New Skin" by Phillippa Yaa De Villers is a nuanced poem that explores themes of transformation, pain, healing, and the harsh realities of life changes. Beginning with a vivid image of a bright snake shedding its old skin, the poem immediately lures attention to the process of transformation and growth. The snake serves as a metaphor for an individual undergoing a major life change. "The new skin is a scar. A scar is an emblem of healing," these lines stress the duality of pain and healing. The discomfort and tenderness of new skin is uncomfortable, paralleling with the agony of ushering into a new phase of life, which is as much a sign of overcoming past adversities as it is a symbol of healing. The term "fearsome sensitivity" emphasizes the vulnerability that accompanies new beginnings and transformation, specifically highlighting the need for care and caution. When she writes, "Beware the bright snake of a new dispensation, remember the sting of skinned knees", there is a gentle reminder of acknowledging the past pain while navigating through current changes. The analogy of skinning knees immediately evokes a sense of empathy because it's a shared human experience; everyone has had a skinned knee and knows the familiar sting, a harsh reminder that changes can be painful. "There are no accidents. Calamity, evolution all produce the same results." These lines reject the idea of coincidences, asserting that both disaster and evolution lead to transformation. The poet uses the comparison of a weighty landslide in Chile to the weight of the air on new scales to exemplify the global scale of change and natural occurrences, adding that discerning nature as enemy is unwise. The poem then ends as it began: with the snake and its shed skin, this cyclic structure can reflect the cyclical nature of life and transformation. In summary, the poem invites the reader to reflect upon the duality of transformation – it brings about growth but is often accompanied by discomfort and vulnerability. The poem challenges the readers to not only endure change but to embrace it; prepare for the pain but also relish in the growth it brings.
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