Friday, November 14, 2014

Allusions and Personification Foster Personal Connection in "Memorial Service" by Leslie Norris

The strength in “Memorial Service” written by Leslie Norris comes from the image of a red balloon. This balloon serves as the personification of Norris’ memories of a loved one. The beginning of the poem uses many words to give motion and life to the balloon, words such as “glides” and “rising up.” When the balloon has been given life Norris continues on to associate the balloon with her memories. The direct personification of these memories into the balloon is found in the last section of the poem, “I still hold tight to/memories of you/your bright string of poems.” The key words and phrases that bring these memories into a comparison with the balloon being, “hold tight to” and “your bright string.” The imagery and word choice makes it clear that the balloon is a theme throughout the poem and represents the memories she holds so dear.

Although this poem seems to be a nice narration of the life of a balloon and the special memories that are held of loved ones who have passed on, there are actually a few references to LDS culture and values found in this writing. The first is the value LDS people place on life.  We hold onto the memories of others. We cherish what they have done for us and the lessons they have taught. In our LDS culture we hold onto the writings of those who have come before us to honor and learn from them, holding onto these memories is an inherent part of our culture.

The second allusion to LDS culture found in this poem is in the following section, “Whether it can find/your path or no.” This demonstrates the uncertainty we have for the immediate stage after death. In the LDS culture, we believe in a stage of paradise or prison directly after death, depending on our actions while on Earth. However, the specifications of that stage of life are still unclear to us.

I found that the subtle allusions to LDS culture were really beautiful. They weren’t overstated or direct, but they were present and I could relate to them. I felt a connection to the poem because I too have lost people that are close to me and hold on to the memories I have with them like a child holds on to their precious red balloon. 


  1. Thinking of the passing of a loved one as a hopeful event, and comparing or bringing in the image of a rising balloon is a very LDS view on this life. It's refreshing to hear or think about the next life as being on a higher plane compared to where we are currently, as many poems about death or the temporary nature of life can be somewhat depressing.

  2. Holding on to memories is a human tendency that is specific to mormons. It is the outlook that we have after the fact that can make them more manageable to move on with. I know with the people that I've lost in my life, the gospel has helped me to to continue onward, while still cherishing the good times that have gone by.

  3. I liked your allusion to the LDS culture in record keeping and the importance of writing down memories, experiences, trials, and victories. This reminds me of the Book of Mormon--what if they hadn't written ANYTHING down, by their experiences, we learn so much.

    This isn't really an LDS themed connection, but this reminded me of President Monson's general confernece talk when he spoke of giving a red balloon to a young girl battle cancer, and then the balloon was given back to him after she passed away. I think its a valuable symbol for us.