Lucille Clifton’s poem “There is a Girl Inside” is rich with figurative language that symbolizes how the speaker’s youthful spirit lives on in her aging body.
Some powerful symbols in this poem include the wolf and the tree. The speaker compares the younger girl inside of her to a...
wolf, which suggests that she still has the energy and the wild desires of an animal. This comparison shows that the speaker still has a zest for life and wants to engage in the active activities of youth.
The speaker also compares this inner self to a tree in a forest. This line holds a great deal of meaning. A tree is a strong structure, and this image immediately prompts the reader to envision a tree standing tall and upright, with roots planted firmly in the ground. Clifton specified that it is a “green tree,” which also symbolizes that this inner self is filled with life. She also mentions that this tree is one in “a forest of kindling,” which means that its wood will one day be burned for fuel. This symbolizes how the speaker still feels full of fiery passion.
Another beautiful image in this poem is in the last stanza. Now that the speaker has established that she still has passion and energy, she explains that this will make her lovers “harvest / honey and thyme.” Honey and thyme together make an aromatic, soothing, and nutrient-dense combination. This line thus symbolizes how in continuing to pursue love despite aging, the speaker is engaging in a healthy and satisfying way of life.