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Sous-entendu, by Anne Stevenson Essay

Sous-entendu, by Anne Stevenson is a short poem, with a powerful message that isn’t quite clear to readers. The title itself is French for, “hidden meaning” or “implication”. “It describes something left unsaid but assumed to be understood” (939). It is written from a women’s point of view, on how we interpret the way men look at us. The narrator is speaking to men in general, not necessarily directing the poem at one specific man.

Her words portray an extremely strong and intelligent woman, describing how women aren’t nearly as naïve as some men may think. To her, and her experience, it seems to have become something she’s quite familiar with, and she seems to know how to handle the situation. Although it is a short poem, it is direct, and straight to the point. Reading it, it seems to be much more than what is being said. It veers to a more profound perceptive of what women truly want out of a relationship. She wants something more than just the physical relationship that men tend to want the most.

Gender is a principle of how one views and interprets this poem. For women, it is a generalization of men and how a woman feels a man is viewing her and their relationship. As a woman, it is a relatable poem, although it is a stereotypical way to view men. For a man, however, the poem may be an insult, seeing how, not all men are the same and not all men view women the way the poem describes.

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