Rhina Espaillat

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As a daughter of immigrants, Rhina Espaillat had to grow up with two seemingly contradictory cultures and the conflicting demands of family love and loyalty versus her own growth and fulfillment. Rhina Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic, but came to America at the age of seven. Similarly to how other poets use autobiographical poetry and self-examination in order to understand themselves, Espaillat uses the poem Bilingual/Bilingüe to examine the American experience from the viewpoint of those who have a distinction, or in her case issues of language. This poem also adds another dimension which is the generation gap between those who have loved a majority of their life in another culture and those feeling at home in America. In Bilingual/Bilingüe,…show more content…
To a non-Spanish speaker, the words in the parenthesis might look like Rhina Espaillat is simply showing how she is bilingual and is speaking in both English and with a few Spanish words. However, she is literally repeating the previous words. For instance, the narrator opens the poem by saying that her father “liked them separate, other there, / one here (allá y aquí)”. In Spanish, “allá” y “aquí” literally translate to “there” and “here”. By doing this, the narrator is showing how language is universally the same thing and it does not change who a person is since language is just a different medium of speaking. These parentheses also show the struggle of her not being able to mix her two languages. As shown in the fourth stanza, the father wanted “English outside” and only “Spanish inside”. This piece of information transforms the poem into a representation of who the narrator is and her life. Also, this poem contains end rhymes in every stanza along with enjambment. This allows the poem to look and sound more uniform while still flowing when spoken. Connecting to the meaning of the poem, it also shows how the different parts of the narrator’s life connect and build off the previous

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