Written in the style of a coming of age story, this poem follows an adolescent girl and her struggle to choose between the civilized world of the "front yard" and the chaotic world of the "back yard." Her mother warns her that the children of the backyard are "bad" people with malicious intentions. However, the girl ignores her mother's words, and expresses that she wants to live untamed and free as they do. The girl's heart desires to be rough and untended and free, the complete opposite of the front yard. The backyard is the representation of all the "bad" things that she never had the opportunity to do, and now she wants to see what she had missed. In short the poem illustrates a more than relatable struggle for teenagers who are on the cusp of adulthood as they crave that which they may have missed out on, while hanging out in the front yard.
- Recommended by George Roby '20
A Song in the Front Yard
I've stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it's rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.
I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.
I want a good time today.
They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it's fine
How they don't have to go in at quarter to nine.
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George'll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).
But I say it's fine. Honest, I do.
And I'd like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.