Cozy Apologia



Waiting for storm to hit, speaker hunkers down, safe in her study. Though Hurricane Floyd disrupts daily life, it also allows time for daydreams. So, with time on her hands, speaker daydreams about partner, Fred.

Everything speaker sees reminds her of Fred. She pictures him as a knight in shining armour, protecting her. He's a vivid contrast, she thinks, to the 'worthless' boys she used to date. She's embarrassed by how content their cosy, ordinary lives have made them. Yet happy to fill the 'stolen time' from the hurricane's approach with thoughts of Fred.

The word 'apologia' means 'a defence'. A paraphrase of the poem's title might be, 'A Defence of Cosiness'.

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American poet, Rita Dove is married to fellow-writer Fred Viebahn and Cozy Apologia seems to be affectionate tribute to him. Poem notes details of a couple's domestic life as writers, 'Twin desks, computers, hardwood floors'. It's set against arrival of Hurricane Floyd, a powerful storm which hit the east coast of the USA in 1999. This factual, real-life context supports idea this is an autobiographical poem.

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Biography and memory:

first person narrative (personal pronouns 'i'). May be dedicated to Fred ('for Fred') - autobiographical.

References to writer's study, with computers and office equipment ('Twin desks, computers, hardwood floors'), suggests Dove is writing about own experiences as writer. Also possible that writer is picturing fictional figure who shares many of her own experiences.


Arrival of Hurricane Floyd and its potential impact runs throughout poem ('Floyd's/ Cussing up a storm').

While Hurricane Floyd could bring destruction, speaker suggests storm is welcome - it frees her from everyday life business. Being cosy indoors allows couple to be together - this gives the speaker the chance to reflect on their happy life together.

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refers to different memories/fantasies about men the speaker has known ('worthless boys', 'Sweet with a dark and hollow center')

Speaker imagines Fred as heroic knight in shining armour. This is a cliché of romantic love which may be used in irony. Speaker may be gently teasing Fred by making this comparison. Another male presence is hurricane which is 'oddly male' as most hurricanes are given female names. Like her partner, the hurricane has both the strength/power to bring/take happiness. The speaker contrasts these strong male figures with the 'worthless' boyfriends of her youth - although they seemed sweet, they were 'thin' and 'hollow' inside.

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Poem has dreamy, wandering tone:

Dove uses digression (deviation from the central theme), changing from subjects in dreamlike way. The use of dashes in each verse interrupts flow of thought. Twice, full-stops fall at awkward points in a line, 'Event.' and 'center. Floyd is disrupting her flow of thought.

Poem is thoughtful/reflective:

Focus on tiny details suggests state of deep concentration: 'the glossy blue/ My pen exudes, drying matte, upon the page'.

Poem is disjointed/does not always flow smoothly:

Poem starts in rhyming couplets, after stanza one this changes. Most lines have four stresses ('As standing in silver stirrups will allow'), but some lines have five stresses ('This post-postmodern age is all business: compact disks'). Gradual break-down of rhyme scheme + poem's irregular rhythm might imitate oncoming storm. Speaker's memories become scattered, just as Hurricane Floyd will scatter debris.

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Form and Structure


First-person narrative. Autobiographical (could be dedicated to husband, Fred, and it describes the home of a writer). Could be about a character similar to the poet.


Three 10-line stanzas. Stanza one: five rhyming couplets, making rhyme scheme of aabbccddee. Breaks down in stanza two, reflecting disruption of oncoming storm. Stanza three: new rhyme scheme has begun to emerge: ababccdddd, representing oncoming storm on page.

Four stresses(emphasis) in most lines, but some lines have five instead. Dove sometimes varies this pattern, and the stresses don't always fall in strict rhythm, creating impression of relaxed, informal voice wandering from idea to idea.

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  • Poem written in relaxed, informal language, with lots of conversational digressions, as the poet changes from subjects. Disjointed feel is emphasised by dashes that break up text + by sentences that finish part way through line. Suggesting one thought interrupts another, in flow of ideas.
  • Speaker uses metaphor, comparing Fred to knight in shining armour. Imagery of knight rescuing his maiden is echoed by the simile 'sure as shooting arrows to the heart'. Dove uses a simile to suggest her old boyfriends were sweet but insubstantial(lack stregth): 'thin as licorice and as chewy,/ Sweet with a dark and hollow center'.
  • Hurricane itself is personified as 'Big Bad Floyd' who 'nudges' and 'cusses' in his 'oddly male', helping make connection with actual men in the poem.

These disjointed images help suggest daydreaming state of mind to reader.

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