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The British writer W. Somerset Maugham wrote,
It is very difficult to know people. For men and women are not only themselves, they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or the farm in which they learned to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives' they overheard...the poets they read, and the God they believed in. You can know them only if you are them.
Elizabeth Brewster's poem certainly carries this same theme--that people incorporate into themselves their environments: "People are made of places." Connotative, too, of Robert Frost's poem "Mending Fences" in which Frost does not understand why he and his neighbor must mend the stone wall between them because "He is all pine and I am apple orchard," and the two men are completely different from each other. Likewise, Brewster is "pine woods" and "blueberry patches" while now as she lives in a city, she observes that people carry on them "the smell of smog" and subways. Rather than wild flowers growing beside an old farmhouse, in the city nature [is] "tidily plotted with a guidebook."
Unhappy with the artificiality and pollution of the city, the poet is nostalgic for the countryside from whence she has come, a place that smells of wood and berries, a place that is open and spacious, not crowded and steel buildings with "chromium-plated offices" in which people are confined. Her memory returns and recalls sharply her contented past, ending in a poetic couplet replete with metaphor, tactile imagery, and alliteration:
A door in the mind blows open, and there blows
a frosty wind from fields of snow.
These figurative lines convey the beauty and persistence of memories within the sensitive nature of the poet, who is captured by memory.
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