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Interpretive Statement on “At That Moment” Essay


The poem is an elegy in nature in the sense that it’s mourning the death of Malcolm. The poem setting is in a ballroom where it talks about how Malcolm was murdered by a bullet.

His shooting was meet with disbelief as ‘pounding thunder’ describes how the whole place was quite as Malcolm’s journey to the dead began to the extent that the poet uses exaggeration to explain that even the cockroaches in the vicinity were paralyzed by the happenings (Malcolm X 1).

The poem explores how the news on Malcolm’s shooting spread so fast to all those who knew him as everyone was concerned because his death was a major setback. The poet compares his death to ‘water running out of faucets’ meaning he was a very influential person.

The poem ends on a sad note because the police arrived too late to save him as he had already died (Patterson 1). In this write up, I will discuss the diction and rhythm of the poem and how the poet has utilized the poetic tools to emphasis on the effect of Malcolm’s death at that moment.

According to Oliver, diction refers to how a poet uses words to illustrate the underlying meaning of the poem (76). This also includes the use of symbols to explore on the poems theme.

With reference to Malcolm’s poem, the poet has used symbolism in form of water, power and gas to symbolize that Malcolm had a great bearing on the society that he was living in meaning he was an dominant person who can be equated to a leader.

The use of the mentioned three elements is significant in the sense that the three are essentials in our everyday life thus Malcolm was a very important person.

Further the poet uses narration to symbolize the effect of the shooting by explaining in detail how his blood found its way on the floor by penetrating the concrete and cellar floor. Again this also gets to indicate the devastation of the shooting to Malcolm’s surroundings.

According to Drury rhythm is the art of creating similar sounds by using identical words that generate a repetitive effect (14). In this case, the words follow a regular form in order to work as an ornamental element to the poem or to insist on the theme illustrated within the repeated stanza.

With reference to Malcolm’s poem, the poet has repeated the words ‘those who’ four times to symbolize that people who knew Malcolm from all works of life were greatly distressed by the news of his shooting (Malcolm X 1).

It also symbolizes the popularity of Malcolm as the poet tries to capture all individuals who are likely to have been impacted by Malcolm when he was alive.

The poet also repeats the words ‘running out ‘two times to illustrate the effect of Malcolm’s shooting to people who were close to him (Malcolm X 1). In this instance, the poet tries to demonstrate that the life of people who were left behind by Malcolm seized to be the same after his death.

The last line ‘It had already happened’ in at that moment in literal sense means that something has happened but it also has a hidden meaning which implies that Malcolm was already dead by the time the police arrived to take him to the hospital (Malcolm X 1).

Based on the tone and diction of the poem, it is very clear that the writer of this poem was an individual who was very close to Malcolm because the death of Malcolm signifies the end of something very important in the poets life e.g. ‘water Running out of faucets’ water is life and thus the death of Malcolm was like the end of the poets life.

Further, the poet cannot come to terms with Malcolm’s death thus he/she refers to it as ‘It had already happened’ meaning Malcolm was a close confide of the poet and thus am inclined to believe that the poet and Malcolm belong to the same nuclear family in this case a sister or a brother to Malcolm (Malcolm X 1).

Works Cited

Drury, John. The poetry dictionary. 2nd ed. Cincinnati: FW publishers, 2006. Print.

Malcolm X. Poetry Written for Malcolm X: At That Moment. malcolmxonline, n.d. Web.

Oliver, Mary. A poetry handbook. Orlando: Harcourt, 1994. Print.

Patterson, Raymond. “At That Moment,” for Malcolm X. malcolmxonline, n.d. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2019, April 4). Interpretive Statement on "At That Moment". Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/interpretive-statement-on-at-that-moment/

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"Interpretive Statement on "At That Moment"." IvyPanda, 4 Apr. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/interpretive-statement-on-at-that-moment/.

1. IvyPanda. "Interpretive Statement on "At That Moment"." April 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/interpretive-statement-on-at-that-moment/.


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IvyPanda. "Interpretive Statement on "At That Moment"." April 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/interpretive-statement-on-at-that-moment/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Interpretive Statement on "At That Moment"." April 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/interpretive-statement-on-at-that-moment/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Interpretive Statement on "At That Moment"'. 4 April.

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