I Was My Own Route [Poem] Summary & Exercise

The summary of I was my own route highlights the radical feminist, challenges the masculine concept of defining a female's existence and journey via t

Summary of I Was My Own Route

I Was My Own Route: Summary & Analysis [Questions & Answer] Exercise
I Was My Own Route [Poem] Summary & Exercise


The summary of I was my own route highlights the radical feminist, challenges the masculine concept of defining a female's existence and journey via traditional paths.

The speaker Julia de Burgos, a radical feminist, challenges the masculine concept of defining a female's existence and journey via traditional paths in the poem "I Was My Own Route." She links male mentality to gender inequality and male prejudices towards women. Women's own freedom and liberation are portrayed in this poem. She also rejects the masculine ideology of deciding a woman's life and journey along traditional paths as a result of this.

In the poem, the poet connects masculine thinking to gender inequity and men's prejudices against women. She's looking for a new path to take on her own journey, one that she can choose. She supports women's rights and freedom. This poem demonstrates that a man and a woman are equally important. As a result, her life should not be influenced by the ideas of others, as the law guarantees females the same fundamental rights as men.

Above all, the poem I Was My Own Route teaches us the moral that men and women are both members of the same society, and they both require freedom, liberty, independence, and other aspects of life, and they should be permitted to pursue their own paths rather than those dictated by patriarchal society. 


The poem 'I Was My Own Route' concentrates on the personal freedom and liberation of women. She is looking for fresh ways to handle her journey, choosing her own path. This poem makes agenda of gender discrimination as a response to the social inequality that existed at the time as uttered by Julia de Burgos.

In her home nation, the United States, she tells about her life as an oppressed woman. A lady of African origin, she was interested in identifying her own individuality and her ambitions. She desired equal opportunities, freedoms, and advantages, and also demanded that these qualities must be present in this sexist and unequal society.

This poem proves that a woman should never feel less important than men or that her life should be subject to the beliefs of others since she is not ruled by society. As the poem goes on to say, he shouldn't play "hide and seek" with her soul. Rather, she has to keep going, even if there are barriers. This poem is thoughtful, with a rebellious nature. The author expresses a dislike for traditional societal norms.

In the first stanza, we learn that society may impose many labels or standards and that no one should be subject to hide or negate their talents, abilities, and aspirations just to “fit in.” In the second stanza, she describes the demoralization of acting or being different in an intolerant society. Julia moves on to affirm her decision to become free of the stigmas and forge a new beginning regardless of the implications. She exemplifies bravery, decisiveness, and commitment to her individualism.

In the fourth stanza, she auto proclaims herself not only as a symbol of marginalized women but a symbol of all social groups that have been enslaved by limiting ideals. Julia declares the joy of living purposefully. She ends the poem with conviction that homage will remain to wait.

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Who is the writer of I Was My Own Route?

Julia de Burgos Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, and came to New York, where she worked as a journalist, and then to Cuba, where she continued her education at the University of Havana. De Burgos, a freedom fighter, returned to New York after two years in Cuba to work as the art and cultural editor for the progressive journal Pueblos Hispanos. De Burgos' poems deal with issues of women's liberation and social justice, and they predate the Nuyorican poetry movement.

In her poem 'I was my Own Route,' de Burgos, a predecessor to contemporary Latina/o writers, portrays how women are shackled by patriarchal ideals from the past. As a result, de Burgos encourages women to separate themselves from the past to find their identity within.

Analysis of I Was My Own Route

The analysis of the poem explains the stanza wise summary and discussion. It also highlights the meaning of the poem and meaning in the context and beyond the context.

Stanza 1  

I wanted to be like men wanted me to be: 

an attempt at life; a game of hide and seek with my being. 

But I was made of nows, and my feet level on the promissory earth would not accept walking backwards and went forward, forward, mocking the ashes to reach the kiss of new paths.  

In the first stanza, The speaker emphasizes the differences between what was expected of her and who she was. She rejects patriarchal thinking and wishes to build her own path rather than participate in the customary game of hide and seek. She discusses her own personal independence as well as women empowerment through this.

She's looking for new ways to manage her journey, rather than following the road that has been established or set by masculine members of society. She mocks these paths and chooses a new road that she prefers. As expressed by Julia de Burgos, this poem makes an agenda of gender discrimination as a response to the social inequalities that existed at the time. 

Stanza 2  

At each advancing step on my route forward my back was ripped by the desperate flapping wings of the old guard.  The speaker encounters several male-made social conventions as hurdles in her freshly forwarded path in the second stanza, but she overcomes all limits and old determined feet. She describes how, with her shattered heart and old blogs, she was thrown back to view the old traditional way. 

Stanza 3  

But the branch was unpinned forever, and at each new whiplash may look separated more and more and more from the distant familiar horizons; and my face took the expansion that came from within, the defined expression that hinted at a feeling of intimate liberation; a feeling that surged from the balance between my life and the truth of the kiss of the new paths.  

The speaker suffers a lot in the third stanza with a sense of liberation to balance her own life to continue along the new and true path of life. She wishes to travel far into the horizons and experience all of the liberations that the male members of society have already experienced. As a result, she kisses multiple different pathways to experience various levels of freedom and joy in life. 

Stanza 4  

Already my course now set in the present, I felt myself a blossom of all the soils of the earth, of the soils without history, of the soils without a future, of the soil always soil without edges of all the men and all the epochs.  

The persona finds herself in an already predetermined situation in the fourth stanza, where there is no history, future, edges, or anything else besides the world and the limitations of men and females under the shadows of males. Patriarchy has erected various barriers for women, confining them to the four walls of their homes. Her current suffering is surrounded by several difficulties and patriarchal society's norms. It depicts a world in which women appear to have no hope. 

Stanza 5  

And I was all in me as was life in me...  With the phrase "And I was all in me as was life in me..." in the fifth stanza, the speaker seeks to convey the feeling of strength that comes with choosing one's own path. 

It was a great opportunity for the speaker to meet and connect with her actual selves. Her life is now completely comprehended and self-sufficient. Stanza 6  I wanted to be like men wanted me to be: an attempt at life; a game of hiding and seek with my being. But I was made of nows; when the heralds announced me at the regal parade of the old guard, the desire to follow men warped in me and the homage was left waiting for me.  

The speaker reveals to her what she was and what the male members of the community desired her to be in the sixth stanza. Then she goes on to state that she was everything in herself because she tries so hard to be who she wants to be. 

Returning to the first stanza, the speaker reveals her own attempt to be different from what patriarchal society desired. She is quite depressed about the dark future ahead of her, and she is determined to overcome the difficult conditions in her life.

Glossary of the Poem

promissory (adj.): containing or conveying a promise

whiplash (n.): a blow with a whip

epoch (n.): periods of time in history or a person’s life, especially the ones marked important events of special characteristics

regal (adj.): of, like or fit for a king or queen; royal

warped (adj.): twisted out of normal or natural shape; strange and unpleasant

homage (n): things said or done to show great respect

Exercise of I Was My Own Route

Understanding the Text 

Answer the following questions

a. Why did the speaker try to be the way men wanted her to be? 

➜ The speaker tried to be the way men wanted her to be because she was curious to see what the males expected of her and how they would act as a result of their patriarchal male concept. 

b. What do you understand by her feet ‘would not accept walking backwards’? 

➜ By her feet ‘would not accept walking backwards’, We understand that she refused to accept males' inferior concept of females and instead desired to race like males with equal resources in order to achieve the ultimate objective of independence and equality. 

c. Who are the old guards? Why did they grow desperate? 

➜ The old guards are traditionalists who are obsessed with the patriarchal system. They grow desperate when they see the poetess improving the lives of the poor and striving for their independence. 

d. How did the speaker have ‘a feeling of intimate liberation’?  

➜ As she crossed the patriarchal society's barrier and kissed a new path of liberation, rejecting the old one defined by males, the speaker had "a feeling of intimate liberation." 

e. Why did the speaker’s desire to follow men warp in her? 

➜ Because of the pre-established patriarchal society and its rules, the speaker’s desire to follow men warped in her. She desired freedom and pleasure, but she was compelled to adapt to men's established concepts and ideas. 

Reference to the Context 

a. What does the speaker mean when she says she was playing a game of hiding and seek with her being’? 

➜ When the speaker says she was playing a game of hiding and seek with her being in the third line of the first stanza and again at the end of the poem, she means to demonstrate her rebellious character and rejection of masculine mentality that restricts women within four walls. It also suggests that she requires liberation in order to break free from the gender stereotype picture of females and pursue her own path. 

b. Why, in your view, was her back ripped by the old guards as she was advancing forward? 

➜ In my view, her back was ripped by the old guards as she was advancing forward because as she progressed, the old guard created several obstacles, traditions, norms, and threats of patriarchal ideology. The old guards relate to ancient traditions, cultures, norms, and patriarchy-determined values in this context, yet she requires liberation and race in her desire for freedom. As a result of the limits, hindrances, barriers, problems, and blockades established by the society's old guard, her back was ripped and she suffered greatly. 

c. What, according to the speaker, did it feel like to be free? 

➜ According to the speaker, to be free means being able to pursue her dreams and follow her own path without any societal or masculine restrictions. It means walking and feeling like a man, participating in society in every manner as a man, and receiving long-awaited liberation for what they desired. For her, it's the same as choosing her own path and carrying out her own duty, defying the patriarchal ideology imposed on women by the old guard. 

d. Why does the speaker prefer the present to the past?

➜ Because her past was unpleasant, difficult, and troublesome, the speaker prefers the present to the past. She had been through a lot in her life. Patriarchal mentality caused her a lot of pain. She was restricted by patriarchal boundaries. She was the one who was made to laugh and play with. She was unaware of her heart's freedom and emancipation. She was limited in what she could do based on her wishes. She was subjected to abuse, exploitation, and deprivation by her family. However, she currently feels released and free of patriarchal conceptions. Male ideology is collapsing at an alarming rate. Females have begun to reap the benefits of freedom, and strong male-dominated ideas are on the decline in today's culture. She believes she has complete freedom over her choices and decisions. She is free to work and visit wherever she wants. Hence, the speaker prefers the present to the past. 

e. John Donne, in his poem “No Man is an Island”, says, “No man is an island entire of itself.” Would Burgos agree with Donne? Do you agree with Donne or Burgos? 

➜ John Donne, in his poem “No Man is an Island”, says, “No man is an island entire of itself.” He is referring to the entire human race and their importance in the evolution of society. The expression "no man is an island" represents the belief that humans function poorly when they are isolated from others and must be a part of a society to survive. It signifies that no one is fully self-sufficient and in order to live, everyone must rely on the company and comfort of others. 

I agree with John Donne and support his concept of societal equality in every aspect. He talks about male and female equality, but Burgos appears angry and upset by the male-dominated culture, and she expresses her displeasure and rejection of male philosophy and ideas that limit women's liberties and changes in society. She appears to be a radical feminist who not only advocates for female freedom but also challenges male norms and beliefs. 

In any case, I admire Donne because he advocates for the development of society as a whole, including the advancement of both men and women. 

Reference Beyond the Text 

a. Write an essay on My Idea of Freedom. 

My Idea of Freedom - An Essay 

Everyone has heard of freedom, but when you ask what it means, everyone will have a different interpretation. This is due to the fact that everyone has a distinct perspective of freedom. For some, freedom is the ability to go wherever they want, for others, it means the ability to speak up for themselves, and for still others, it means the ability to do anything they want. The right to be free does not mean the freedom to violate and disregard other rights. 

Furthermore, freedom entails enjoying the beauty of nature and the environment in which we live. Only those who have earned or spent their lives for something can truly understand its true worth. Freedom from oppression is also synonymous with freedom. It also refers to freedom from racism, harm, hostility, and discrimination, among other things. Furthermore, freedom allows for open debates, which aid in the exchange of important ideas and thoughts for the advancement of society. Moreover, this is the only right that is intimately linked to all other rights. More importantly, it is necessary to communicate one's thoughts about society and other topics. To summarize, we might say that freedom is not what we believe it to be. It's a psychological construct that everyone has their own take on. Similarly, different people place a different value on it. However, there is a strong correlation between freedom and happiness. 

b. Not all people, however, seem to agree with the kind of freedom upheld by Burgos in this poem. For example, William Faulkner, in his novel Requiem for a Nun, says, ‘“The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labour in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity.” Do you agree with Faulkner? Why? Why not? 

➜ Of course, not all people seem to agree with the kind of freedom upheld by Burgos in this poem. William Faulkner, in his novel Requiem for a Nun, says, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labour in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity.’ 

Everything we do and experience in the future will become history. We're trapped in the crossfire of history and karma that began before we were ever born in the webs we've been creating since the dawn of time. Our existence, like time, moves in a straight path. We shall always be surrounded by the past. It's impossible to say something happened if we're still thinking about it and making decisions based on it. 

Whatever happened, it becomes a part of our history, but the memories it generates remain in our minds, thus the past never truly ends. It implies that we are always locked in the past. It will be with us until the point of death. We might assume from Julia Burgos' poem "I Was My Own Route" that she wishes to be fully free of her past because it was so unpleasant. However, this is difficult to achieve. Julia de Burgos' fight for independence absolutely disproves the idea that there was a past before her. 

She wishes to escape men's presence in order to establish her own identity by denying the past and rejecting men's existence. However, if males are disregarded, the world will come to an end. She is a radical feminist, which implies she is enraged by men's dominance of women. It is vital that both sexes be present for the sake of humanity's survival. 

The past shapes our identity and guides us through every decision we make. His perspective on the past is really unlike what Burgos expresses in her poems. We cannot completely ignore our past as it assists us in every path of our life. Hence, I completely agree with Faulkner over Burgos as his perspectives and ideas are based on reality and truth.

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