33 pages 1 hour read

Kwame Alexander

The Undefeated

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2019

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Symbols & Motifs

The Great Egret

As the poem progresses, a number of birds appear on the pages, seemingly carrying the poem forward. The birds resemble great egrets: big, swanlike birds from the Americas. These birds are most known as the symbol for the National Audubon Society, which is an organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of birds.

While the symbolism of birds is a complicated and tricky subject, and no one bird consistently associates with one symbol, these birds do tend to be linked with things like perseverance and strength.

More generally, these birds are big, graceful, beautiful, and seeing them in flight is an image of freedom, openness, and possibilities.

In the poem, the birds first appear next to the images of various athletes. Right in front of the birds, there is a small butterfly, and right next to the butterfly is Muhammed Ali, who famously described his boxing style as floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.

In the end of the poem, the birds seem to carry the past to the future, as they are the only image on the page next to Alexander’s lines about the past no longer being untitled, which leads to the final page which shows the faces of smiling children, representing the future and all the hope that comes with it.