The poem “Money is a kind of poetry” by Wallace Stevens highlights the role played by money in society. The poem clearly indicates the similarities that abound between money and poetry. Through the description of money and the elements of art it entails money is connected to poetry which is a form of art. Metaphors are some of the figurative language used in the poem. Money is very important for every human being and the poem stresses on the importance of money to man. In addition, the persona makes extensive use of figurative language that help the reader understand the major themes in the poem.
In the first stanza, money is described with the use of slang terms in order to connect with the reader. “Money the long green,” (In 1). Vivid description is used throughout the stanza as money is illustrated. “Cash, stash, rhino, jack,” (In 2).These are common terms used among many Americans when referring to money, “or just plain dough,” (In 3). There is also no definite rhyme scheme in the stanza. In the second stanza money is potentially seen as a hazard. “Chock it up, fork it over,” (In 4) a line that explains how money can be used. “Shell it out wash it,” (In 5) assonance is used to further expound on how money is used. “Burn holes through pockets,” (In 6) here the consequences of using money are stated. However, it is exaggerated as money cannot literally burn pockets.
In stanza three, more words are used that mean the same as money and the natural compelling need by man to have money. In addition, there is an element of sarcasm. “To be made of it! To have it,” (In 7) emphasizes on the need for every person to have money. “To burn! Greenbacks, double eagles,” (In 8) is a very blunt statement on how people talk when using money in the local slang. “Megabucks and Ginnie maes,” (In 9) defines both little money and wealth. Stanza four shows the advantages that money gives people. “It greases the palm, feathers a nest,” (In 10) symbolism is used to express how money can improve lives. “Holds heads above water,” (In 11) personification is also used to show the significance of money. “Makes both ends meet,” (In 12) expounds on the fact that people cannot survive without money.
Stanza five is mainly about how money circulates and reproduces itself. “Money breeds money,” (In 13). “Gathering interest compounding daily,” (In 14) are two consecutive lines that show contrast in the poem, money is burning pockets and flowing at the same time. “Always in circulation,” (In 15) is a statement that portrays the reality that at any given time a transaction has taken place involving money. Stanza six implies on the mystery of money and the image it creates on an individual. “Money. You don’t know where it’s been,” (In 16) uses suspense to show that money cannot be traced. “But you put it where your mouth is and it talks,” (In 17) alludes from the saying that “money talks.” This saying refers to the perception that money tells people about a person. “And it talks,” further relate to how money defines people with those having the most money gaining power and control.
The poem employs a lot of poetic devices. One of the major devices used is metaphors. Metaphors are used in poetry to compare two things that are similar or distinct. Through metaphors, the reader is able to differentiate the two things and have a clear understanding of the poem. “To be made of it! To have it,” (In 7) uses metaphor to show how money can build a person’s image. However for a person’s image to be created by money in society they have to be in possession of money. The title is also metaphorical as it compares poetry to money.
In conclusion the poem is an artistic tool that reflects the reality and perception of money in society. Money just like poetry “talks” though differently and uses different methodologies. Society has placed extreme meaning on money and how people are associated with it. The poem shows that a person has to have money to have a say in society or get what they want. Figurative language such as metaphors, consonance, symbolism and personification is used to help the persona relay the meaning of the poem.