Poet and author Sandra Cisneros is famous for her collection of stories, but her poetic heritage cannot be ignored. In this paper, one of her less known works, the poem called You Called Me Corazon from the collection of poetry entitled Loose Woman, will be analyzed. The book Loose Woman has become quite popular with American poetry-lovers, and has become a winner of the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers’ Award (Cisneros 3). Although all poems in this book are very short, most of them are only one page with some running on the next page. This poetry collection is written with strong feelings of sexuality and passion. The author herself states that all her love poems are divided into three sections, where she represents former, would-be and dead lovers (Cisneros). The poem You Called Me Corazon is addressed to her former lover and at the same time to a would-be one. It is the first person narration. The heroine and the author are the same person. Cisneros tells readers about her own strong feelings and emotions caused by the talk with a man, with whom she has broken up. The main heroine forgives her beloved and says that to fill her heart with love and passion again, it is enough for her lover just to call her Corazon and that’s it. “Her heart starts beating, it will start beating again after she hears gentle words from him” (Cisneros 28).
In fact, the main idea of the poem is to show that love and forgiveness are very important in life, and the emotions and feelings they bring are vital.
There are not many literature critics, who studied the poem You Called Me Corazon, but it is possible to make some conclusions on the basis of critical reviews of the poetry collection Loose Woman by James Galvan, Monet Moutrie, R. Lake, and personal views. Thus, it is easy to make a point that in this poem, Cisneros describes how easy it is to free woman’s feelings and to give her hope again. The beloved man seems to be a former lover, but the heroine forgives him, after he has called her Corazon, because her feelings are still alive, and she hopes for their happy future together. After he had called her Corazon, she wanted to “put her mouth on each” of his eyes, and felt as if she was free and in blossom “like a branch of jacaranda” (Cisneros 28). After she had got a small hint that he was still in love with her and needed her, the feelings came alive again. Cisneros tells how even a small word can awake hope, love and passion, even though these feelings stay inside and try to be hidden deep after an argument or leave. However, the feelings can be very strong like “a tiger in a cell” (Cisneros 28). Like a wild animal, who was locked and tried to escape, love and passion are hidden in the woman’s heart, but even one word is the key to free them (Cisneros 28). As it is also mentioned in Monet Moutrie’s essay, the author emphasizes the role of passion and love in a woman’s life. In her essay, Moutrie states that, probably, the heroine could have found another man and could have lived happily, instead, she chose a man that came and left, who “ignites the author’s passion but never stay for long” (Moutrie). Therefore, it is obvious that the feelings described by the author must not be necessarily love, but passion, which covers people up to the hilt. Anyway, the feelings are as strong as the emotions described in the given poem.
Looking through this poem, it is clear that Cisneros expresses a lot of emotions throughout it. This view is also supported by the critical answers of Lake and Moutrie (Lake; Moutrie). These strong emotions are felt while reading the lines of the poem. Cisneros expresses the most private emotions about love and passion in her writings. The reason for it is her strong character and origin, which have influenced her cultural views a lot. Cisneros writes her poems using two different cultural views, which make all poems in the book Loose Women, including You Called Me Corazon, very unique. Sandra Cisneros was born and raised in the Mexican family by a Mexican father and a Mexican-American mother. She was the only daughter out of seven children, so she could study Mexican men’s views on life well. She and her family also lived in Chicago, “where the American culture became interspersed with her family's Mexican heritage” (Cisneros). “She grew up speaking both Spanish and English, and this is clearly reflected in all her works” (Moutrie). It is appropriate to state that “her experience is a melding of two cultures, two identities, two ideals” (Moutrie). In the poem reviewed, there is a Spanish word “corazon” meaning “sweetheart” in each stanza and in the title (Galvan). It is obvious that strong feelings and emotions described in Cisneros’ love poems are based on her personal experiences, though there is not much information about her love affairs, it is known that she is not married and does not see herself happy in marriage. Living alone for her is quite satisfactory. In one of the interviews, she told: "My writing is my child and I don't want anything to come between us" (Juffer). It is also important to mention that the contemporary American poetry has been moving to the college and university campus, and as it is known that Sandra Cisneros has a big professional experience of working as a teacher in college and at school. As a result, this has inspired her to write poetry. Except for her personal experience, the theme of love and passion has always been number one among young people, especially in the 90s after the sexual revolution in the previous decades. Therefore, that is another reason for writing about love, feelings, and emotions, and sharing her experience with readers of different age, but mostly younger ones.
Everyone, who read the poem, can notice that the language used in it to describe feelings is very frank and simple. The format is spaced out and very short (Lake). The style of Cisneros writing is free verse and has a lot of visual imagery. Considering the physical structure, the poem has three quatrains and one tercet, which finally makes it consist of 4 stanzas or 15 lines. As far as the rhythm and meter are concerned, some lines have four syllables, and some have six. Consequently, it is written in anapestic heptameter or anapestic pentameter. Though the rhyme is not stable, it can be found in the second stanza in one line “corazón”- “phone”:
Called me corazón
in that instant before
I let go the phone (Cisneros 28).
The second time, the rhyme appears in two lines, which belong to different stanzas “placed” - “blazed”.
…how I would've placed
my mouth on each.
and the word blazed… (Cisneros 28).
It is important to mention that the word “corazon” is met in the poem 3 times. Such repetition does not only endow this word with a special meaning, but also provides the sound scheme of the poem with harmony.
It is also particularly important to emphasize assonance in the lines, which serves as one of the building blocks. Internal rhyming in the poem is created with the help of the repetition of the vowel [o] in each line.
Sandra Cisneros often uses such literary devices as metaphors, similes, metonymy, and imagery. There is a metaphor in the poem You Called Me Corazon, when she talks about getting the feelings free and compares this state with “to spirit a tiger from its cell” (Cisneros 28). Two metonymies can also be found in it. The first case is when Cisneros uses the word “you” everywhere in the poem, which generally means a lover or beloved. The meaning is obvious through the context. Another example of metonymy is the usage of the word “corazon” instead of “sweetheart”: “Called me corazón” (Cisneros 28). There is the example of imaginary in the line: “I let go the phone back to its cradle” (Cisneros 28). It helps readers visualize how the heroine is sitting and talking to her lover. Another stylistic device is simile in the line: “…like a branch of jacaranda” (Cisneros 28). If jacaranda is a symbol of growing contentment, Sicneros shows that calling her “Corazon” is only the beginning of a new life.
To my mind, the poem is very easy to read and has a simple form. Though there are only four stanzas, it is easy to understand a life story of the heroine or at least a part of it. Personally I enjoyed reading You Called Me Corazon and find it quite emotional. Sandra Cisneros uses the imagery in her poem. Thus, it is easy to feel closer to the situation, imaging that one is observing it. I have not experienced the same situation in life, but I believe it is quite common in reality. It would be a relief for many women to read it, and know that the feelings and outbursts they feel from time to time are quite natural. To my mind, the idea about hope and love, which can come to life very quickly, is right. Sandra Cisneros’ way of bringing her thoughts to readers is very emotional, but clear and simple, and it is of great importance to bring serious ideas about life values so frankly and easily at the same time, which makes the poem open to various society representatives.