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What is the meaning of  Ezra Pound´s poem "A Girl"?

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barunka | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 6, 2009 at 3:00 AM via web

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What is the meaning of  Ezra Pound´s poem "A Girl"?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 30, 2012 at 11:34 PM (Answer #1)

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Ezra Pound, an American poet, is known for his controversial life.  Celebrated as one of the leading poets of the 20th Century, Pound's poetry comes from the imagist movement in modern poetry.  In this type of poem,  the poet wishes to paint a picture for the reader using his descriptions and word choice.

Pound's poem "A Girl" is  short with only ten lines divided into two stanzas.  Written in free verse, it is eloquent in its simplicity. The narration is first person point of view.  The word choice is elemental, and yet the poet employs figures of speech to dramatize his meaning.  This poem is deceptively simple; however, it is ambiguous in its  interpretation.

Over the course of the first stanza, the narrator figuratively becomes the tree.  The reader is fascinated as to how things will progress.  The mossy tree seems to envelope slowly but irretrievably the narrator, absorbing his life force and  even letting the sap fill his veins.

There is a union between the tree and the poet.  Symbolically, the poet may be someone that he loves and  becomes one with the narrator.  The poet may actually be holding the metaphoric person/tree in his hands as it sways toward him, allowing its essence to invade him.  The tree grows downward into his heart and outward so that its branches can encapsulate whatever or whomever he  loves.  Metaphorically, the poem's imagery is easy yet passionate, living yet inanimate, tender yet strong, and soft yet seething.

The tree has grown into my breast.

Downward,

The branches grown out of me likearms.

In the second stanza, the poet speaks to the tree whom he refers to as a child.  The tree is tall and young yet covered with moss. Violets, so fragrant in the wind, grow round the tree.  To the world, this playful talk is nothing but foolishness.  The world does not understand.  It is easy for a child to let her imagination fly high. Often, this simple joy is lost to the adult, but here it spreads to the narrator.

A child-so high-you are

And all this is folly to the world.

Since Pound did not elaborate on the meaning of this poem, there is an alternative interpretation ascribed to it which comes from
Greek mythology.  it is the story of Daphne and Apollo. Apollo loved Daphne and Daphne detested him.  Apollo pursued relentlessly Daphne.  She begged her father to change her so that Apollo would not recognize or want her.  Her father agreed and slowly Daphne's appearance began to alter.  Her skin turned to bark, her hair became leaves, her arms were transformed into branches, and feet became rooted to the ground.  Apollo embraced the branches, but alas the branches shrank away from him.  Apollo vowed to tend Daphne as his tree.  He promised her leaves would decorate the heads of leaders.  Using  his powers of eternal youth and immortality, he rendered her tree green forever. 

It does not matter which interpretation that the reader chooses because that is the joy of poetry.  As Robert Frost said:

A poem should not mean but be. 

This is the poem "A Girl."

 

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