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When they torture your mother
plant a tree
When they torture your father
plant a tree
When they torture your brother
and your sister
plant a tree
When they assassinate
your leaders
and lovers
plant a tree
Whey they torture you
too bad
to talk
plant a tree.
When they begin to torture
the trees
and cut down the forest
they have made
start another.

Short Poem Analysis

"Torture" by Alice Walker is a poem that explores the emotional and physical pain caused by the oppression of black people in the United States. The speaker begins by describing a scene of torture, where a young black boy is being beaten and whipped by white men. The violence and brutality of the act are emphasized through vivid imagery and the repetition of the phrase "his flesh is tearing."

The poem then shifts to a more personal reflection on the speaker's own experiences with oppression. She describes the pain of being denied basic human rights and the struggle to maintain dignity in the face of dehumanization. The phrase "they have cut out my tongue" suggests a loss of voice and agency in the face of systemic racism.

The poem ends with a call to action, urging the reader to speak out against oppression and injustice. The final lines, "speak or die," suggest that silence is a form of complicity and that standing up against oppression is a matter of life and death.

Overall, "Torture" is a powerful poem that highlights the ongoing struggles of black people in the United States and the importance of speaking out against oppression. It uses vivid imagery and personal reflection to convey the emotional and physical pain caused by systemic racism and discrimination.

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