A Literary Analysis of Taylor Swift's 'Vogue' Poem

Sit your sweet ass down and let me teach you a thing or two about a metaphor.

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Dec 6 2017, 4:36pm

Image via Wikimedia Commons

As you may know, Taylor Swift is the second cover star of British Vogue under its new editor-in-chief Edward Enninful. To celebrate the occasion she... did not give an interview. What she did, however, was write a poem. Boy, did she write a poem. Here it is quoted in full, via British Vogue:

"The Trick to Holding On" by Taylor Swift (age 27)

Let go of the ones who hurt you
Let go of the ones you outgrow
Let go of the words they hurl your way
as you’re walking out the door
The only thing cut and dry
In this hedge-maze life
Is the fact that their words will cut
but your tears will dry

They don’t tell you this when you are young
You can’t hold on to everything
Can’t show up for everyone
You pick your poison
Or your cure
Phone numbers you know by heart
And the ones you don’t answer any more

Hold on to the faint recognition in
the eye of a stranger
As it catches you in its lustrous net
How quickly we become intertwined
How wonderful it is to forget
All the times your intuition failed you
But it hasn’t killed you yet
Hold on to childlike whims and moonlight swims and your blazing self-respect

And if you drive the roads of this town
Ones you’ve gone down so many times before
Flashback to all the times
Life nearly ran you off the road
But tonight your hand is steady
Suddenly you’ll know
The trick to holding on
Was all that letting go

Let's ignore the fact that it basically reads like the lyrics of a song that got cut from Red and treat a 'poem' like a Poem. I am going to analyze the shit out of it. I am qualified to do this as I myself have written at least two zines' worth of bad poetry. Also I am doing this because it means that when my family ask how I'm using my English degree I'll actually have something to show them. Here we go!

Let go of the ones who hurt you
Let go of the ones you outgrow

OK so right out of the gate this is extremely literal. I really hope this isn't going to just be prose with awkward line breaks Taylor I really fucking hope it is not.

Let go of the words they hurl your way
as you’re walking out the door
The only thing cut and dry
In this hedge-maze life
Is the fact that their words will cut
but your tears will dry

Now we're talking! Let's get these metaphors. It's good because you can't actually hurl a word and life isn't actually a hedge-maze, it's just description which tells you something about how much words hurt and how confusing life is. Do you get it now?

You pick your poison
Or your cure

What does this mean.

Phone numbers you know by heart
And the ones you don’t answer any more

So true.

Hold on to the faint recognition in
the eye of a stranger
As it catches you in its lustrous net
How quickly we become intertwined
How wonderful it is to forget
All the times your intuition failed you
But it hasn’t killed you yet
Hold on to childlike whims and moonlight swims and your blazing self-respect

Vintage, canon Swift. There's lots here that comes up on her records (do I get points here for context?)—an interesting stranger, a fast partnership, the combination of personal minutiae with biggest concepts, not to mention that the part about intuition literally fits to the tune of "All Too Well." But, that's the thing isn't it? This literally is not a poem. It's lyrics. "Lustrous net" is a nice image, though, I guess. More lustrous nets, Taylor.

Flashback to all the times
Life nearly ran you off the road
But tonight your hand is steady

The! Big! Finish! A dramatic conjuring of an image, to be sure. What she's saying is that growing as a person is exactly like driving an SUV.

The trick to holding on
Was all that letting go

V poignant.

In all it's pretty Swift-y, though I'm pretty disappointed in the lack of symbolism. Not saying a poem has to be massively symbolic or anything I really just get the impression she found a piece of crumpled up paper with discarded lyrics from a couple of eras ago, took a photo of it and sent it to British Vogue as her submission. Besides, I'm not sure I'm that keen to take advice on Growing Up and Moving On from someone who recently released an album with a number of songs on it that are about the same, long-term grudge. Just my opinion. Pretty poem though I suppose.

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