I Am Offering This Poem Summary and Line by Line Analysis by Jimmy Santiago Baca in English


In the poem, “I Am Offering This” the speaker insists that love itself is a gift more priceless and enduring than any material luxury, making the poem primarily a romantic poem. The poem also serves as a reflection on the capacity of poetry to express deep feelings, give solace in difficult or lonely times, and capture and express profound emotions.

About The Poet

American poet, screenwriter, and memoirist Jimmy Santiago Baca hails from New Mexico. He was an Apache and Chicano who was born in Santa Fe in 1952. The marginalized and downtrodden are central to Baca’s work, which also explores issues of addiction, community, and the barrios of the American Southwest.

Theme Of The Poem

The significance of love and poetry as a priceless art form are among the subjects of this poem

Lines 1-7 

I am offering this poem to you,
since I have nothing else to give.
Keep it like a warm coat
when winter comes to cover you,
or like a pair of thick socks
the cold cannot bite through,

                         I love you,

“I Am Offering This” poems’ opening lines begin with the speaker “offering” the poem to “you,” his beloved. He claims that it is the only thing he has to offer. The reader should picture the poem or literature in general as a gift or gesture. Baca continues by using the metaphor of a “warm coat” to connect the poetry with warmth and safety. When “winter comes to cover you,” it will offer the listener shelter. It is a declaration, a notice, and an expression of intent. The interjections of “I love you” after each stanza make this even more obvious.

Lines 8-13

I have nothing else to give you,
so it is a pot full of yellow corn
to warm your belly in winter,
it is a scarf for your head, to wear
over your hair, to tie up around your face,

                         I love you,

He claims that he has “nothing else to give you,” thus the poem must represent a “pot full of yellow corn.” . A “pot full of yellow maize” will keep the intended audience warm throughout the cold season. The poem serves as a “scarf” to cover the reader’s head. It can be used to envelop “your” body while the cold tries to eat you up.

Lines 14-23

Keep it, treasure this as you would
if you were lost, needing direction,
in the wilderness life becomes when mature;
and in the corner of your drawer,
tucked away like a cabin or hogan
in dense trees, come knocking,
and I will answer, give you directions,
and let you warm yourself by this fire,
rest by this fire, and make you feel safe

                         I love you,

The beloved is advised to “Keep it” in the following stanza. “It” refers to the poetry. If you were lost, “you” should “cherish the poem exactly like you would read  a map. From birth to death, life is progressively more chaotic, and as one gets older, the map or poem stays in a drawer. It is always hidden and available in case it is required. The poem is compared by Baca to a “cabin or hogan” that is tucked away in the forest. You should visit the cabin, knock on the door, and “I,” the speaker, will answer if “you” need to. You can reset your life’s course by going back to this point.

Lines 24-30

It’s all I have to give,
and all anyone needs to live,
and to go on living inside,
when the world outside
no longer cares if you live or die;

                         I love you.

The poetry is all the speaker has left to “give,” he says again. This is not a negative thing, though. Although that may be all he has, it is everything someone needs to exist.  When “the world outside / no longer cares if you live or die,” the poem  can offer you a shelter of solace. In the closing phrase, Baca tells the audience that if no one remember to say “I love you”, his poem will always be the one saying it.