Read Sound of Pen’s essay about Taylor Swift and develop your ability to make interesting points + to address context/typicality + to incorporate critical quotes.
- MUSIC FOCUS: Taylor Swift.
- ACTIVITY FOCUS: Read our essay and take note of all the different comments you could make about love regardless of the text you’re studying. Really focus on how the essay addresses context and ideas about typicality – and how it incorporates critical quotes/alternative perspectives in a way that helps to secure the main argument.
It has been said that: “Taylor Swift demonstrates enormous love for New York.” Explore the presentation of love in ‘Welcome To New York’ in light of this comment.
Taylor Swift’s ‘Welcome To New York’ absolutely demonstrates a deep love for the city.
The speaker is quick to highlight the brightness of the city. The ‘kaleidoscope’ metaphor emphasises the multitude of different colours – as readers of love literature we’re used to interpreting these vivid shades as symbols of positivity and happiness. The joyous mood is furthered by the use of the adjective ‘aglow’ – Swift deliberately creates a sense of warmth and comfort that secures her portrayal of New York as a place the speaker loves. The speaker is searching for ‘a sound’ she hasn’t heard before and Swift’s use of enjambment highlights how excited the speaker is to know that New York can offer her something so new. She might be alone in the crowd – a scenario which in other circumstances could initiate a sense of fear or anxiety – but it’s clear by the repeated use of the pronoun ‘we’ that the speaker feels connected in some way to the people around her. That feeling of connection is common to the experience of love as depicted within the literature of love, thus cementing our belief that the speaker is madly in love with New York City.
The word ‘welcome’ makes it clear from the start that the speaker has only just arrived in New York. This makes sense for two reasons. Firstly, that feeling of being so excited is commonly associated with the early stages of love. Secondly, the speaker’s feelings seem to fit with those commonly portrayed by new arrivals in the city. New York has always offered a hope to migrants – it is a physical manifestation of The American Dream. Thus, as readers, we expect the speaker to express herself in such positive terms when arriving in a place where everything is possible. That sense of possibility is indicated by the ‘bright’ lights. Light is commonly associated with hope. The speaker loves that New York City offers her the potential to do what she wants. Perhaps she feels like she’s going to be truly ‘seen’. She certainly feels happy about the chance of a fresh start. She writes about putting ‘broken hearts’ ‘in a drawer’. The implication is that she has been emotionally damaged in the past but that now she has the chance to begin again. In part, then, it’s not that she’s in love with New York so much as New York is giving her the opportunity to love again. Either way, the city is inextricably linked to ideas of love.
Sam Anderson wrote that, ‘In New York, love tends to attach itself to the cityscape,’ and only when we understand this, will we truly understand how clearly Taylor Swift is demonstrating love for the city. She expects us to understand what New York represents and so, in simply repeating ‘New York’ over and over, we are also expected to understand that the speaker here is in love with this place. How can she not be? Towards the end of the poem, though, she becomes even more explicit. She compares her feelings for the city to a ‘real’ love, to a ‘true love’, to a ‘great’ love – she says she ‘wouldn’t / Change anything’ about it. A Twenty-First Century reader will be familiar with the idea that being in love with a person means accepting everything about them and so we recognise the speaker’s enormous love for New York. Regardless of its idiosyncrasies, she says she could ‘dance’ to its ‘beat’. The metaphor implies how absolutely connected she feels to the city – and how given that the act of dancing is associated with celebration, we are able to gauge the joy she feels at having established this connection. Once again, her excitement is conveyed through Swift’s use of enjambment. The sentences overflow in the same way the speaker’s emotions do.
Throughout this poem, Taylor Swift quite clearly highlights the speaker’s enormous love for New York City. Sue Carter and Stephen Porges write that love, ‘has a profound effect on our mental and physical state’ and we can see how true that is here. The speaker feels healthier and happier as a result of the love she feels for New York .
Now, put your new ideas into action. Have a look at some more Taylor Swift classes.