¶ … Angels of Bread," Martin Espada champions the rights of immigrants, and especially the poor, downtrodden, and disenfranchised. The narrative style booms with conviction, as the poem reads almost like a preacher's sermon. The overall tone of "Imagine the Angels of Bread" remains pessimistic, in spite of the clear message of social justice. Literary devices such as rhythm, repetition, diction, and metaphor are critical for conveying the central theme of liberation from oppression.
The pacing and rhythm of "Imagine the Angels of Bread" pulsates with anger and emotional intensity, which helps to convey the central theme of liberation. The poem is divided into four stanzas, but these stanzas are not equal in size. Rather, the first two stanzas are long and intense. The third stanza is shorter by about half, signaling to the reader the culmination or climax of the poem. Finally, Espada concludes the poem with a three-line stanza that includes the title of the poem: "angels of bread." The structure of the poem is such that it builds up energy through two long stanzas and two shorter ones, just as the anger and resentment felt by the oppressed people of the world has also built up.
Using repetition allows Espada to make "Imagine the Angels of Bread" feel like a spiritually charged sermon...
Thus, Espada makes a strong statement of values related to social justice. The phrase "This is the year…" prefaces the first two stanzas, but the third stanza concludes with that very same phrase. Thus, Espada sandwiches the bulk of the poem between the phrase, "This is the year" for emphasis. The structure of the poem, with its repetitive device, stresses the importance of timing. "This is the year" the people will revolt against tyranny and oppression. The phrase "this is the year" is also repeated within the stanzas for emphasis.
The diction of "Imagine the Angels of Bread" evokes emotions and imagery of pain, suffering, anger, and frustration. The first line of the poem pits "squatters" against "landlords." The squatters symbolize the poor and disenfranchised, whereas the landlords represent the people in power who systematically oppress the poor. Later in the same stanza, the "shawled refugees depart judges / who stare at the floor." The reference to "shawled refugees" specifically refers to immigrants from Central America to the United States, whereas the image of "staring at the floor" is a symbol of feeling disempowered and disenfranchised. In "Imagine the Angels of Bread," the tables are turned on the people in power, who experience the same type of humiliation and disrespect given the refugees. The speaker also refers to police brutality used against the immigrant community, by including imagery of the "nightsticks splintering / in their palms." Just as the immigrants rise up against the judges who had condemned them to the insecurity of deportation, so…
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