What are some metaphors in Ed Reed's poem "The Key of the Kingdom" and how do they fit the definition of "metaphor?"

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"Metaphor" is commonly defined as a word or phrase used in a manner for which it is not normally applicable, but for which a parallel is identified.  Ed Reed's poem of youthful wonder and lost innocence is replete with metaphors.  In fact, the poem's title "The Key of the Kingdom," is itself a metaphor, possibly borrowed from the Biblical phrase from Mark 16:19 (I will give you the keys to the kingdom . . ."), referring to, as in the poem's phrase "Only children had the key, The key of the kingdom," to the wonderous stage of life in which mystery and imagination are given free rein to conjure whatever images seem appropriate at the time and in whatever way the mind of a child desires.  

Another metaphor in "The Key of the Kingdom" is in the phrase "we have lost the key," which in normal conversation refers, obviously, to the literal sense of having lost the instrument by which one can enter a structure.  In the context of his poem, Reed uses the phrase to mean "we are no longer children and, consequently, no longer enjoy the carefree lives of our youth when the world existed to be explored.  We are now adults with responsibilities."  Coupled to that phrase is another metaphor, "And it has perished with the rust of misuse."  Again, literal application of the phrase would refer to an object, particularly a mechanical object, that atrophes from having sat unused for a long period of time, for example, a motor (which can be a metaphor for the brain, in which the imagination exists).

Finally, the poem's final stanza, "Age is the grave yard/Of all our youthful hopes," is a metaphor in that "grave yard," a tangible object associated with death, is in this case used to describe the demise of one's "youthful hopes," or dreams and ambitions.  "The Key of the Kingdom" begins as a reminiscence regarding the idealism of childhood, when summer vacations are spent exploring the woods and allowing imaginations to conjure up images of fantastic objects, both terrifying and wonderous.  It evolves, however, into a mournful contemplation of the toll on one's psyche of the inevitable process of aging.  

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What are some metaphors, symbols and images in Ed Reed's poem "The Key of the Kingdom?"

Ed Reed's poem "The Key of the Kingdom" captures the spirit and imagination inherent in the innocence and wonder of childhood.  His tale of children wandering aimlessley though the woods and meadows, their imaginations alive with images of unseen figures from the worlds of fantasy and fiction , is an ode to the carefree existence of a bygone era.  The title, and concept of the "The Key of the Kingdom" is itself a metaphor for that age of innocence, when imaginations run wild with images both wonderous and terrifying.  The phrase "key of the kingdom" could have been borrowed from the Biblical phrase in Matthew 16:19 ("I will give you the keys to the kingdom . . ."), but that is pure speculation.  In any event, Reed clearly employs the phrase in the context of summer vacations from...

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school when children are free to explore:

When we were childrenWe possessed the key to a kingdomSuch as this world has yet to see.  Wherever we went;By lakes,PoolsAnd streams,In woods,Meadows,and Fields,There was world beyond beliefIn which anything could be something else.

And, then: "Only children had the key."

"The Key of the Kingdom" is replete with metaphors, symbols and images, all seen through the imagination of children.  Some of the images, both terrifying ("goblins, ghosts and ghouls/Dragons, trolls, witches, sorcerers . . " ) and happy ("A World of enchanted geography -- Magic Forests,/Glass mountains/And fountains of youth.")

This last stanza, however, injects an element into the poem that surprises the reader: the suggestion, later confirmed, that the narrator is an adult reflecting on a lost youth, with images of the finality of human existence taking over:

Now that we're older.WiserAnd more matureThis kingdom no longer has our allegiance.We have lost the keyAnd it has perished with the rust of misuseAnd neglect.

Life can by in a glimpse.  The older one gets, the faster the years seem to go by, and we are left with regrets for that lost innocence of youth and for the promise our lives once held.  Reed uses the phrase "Age is the grave yard of all our youthful hopes, dreams and experiences" as a metaphore for this passage through life and the realization that we can't turn back the clock.

The images of the poem, both real (the natural beauty of the countryside: lakes, pools, streams, woods, meadows) and imagined (Knights, fair damsels, exploring with Marco Polo and defying savage Indians) dominate "The Key of the Kingdom," as do the symbols (castles made of T.V. boxes, shields taken from the tops of garbage cans).  Perhaps consistent with the Biblical reference to keys to the kingdom, Reed uses as a metaphor 'daring damnation' for the risks of removing bicycle training wheels that, along with the notion of "keys to the kingdom" provide the second metaphor, both, as noted, emanating from religious conviction.  

Adulthood, as "The Key of the Kingdom" implies, does not allow for the frivolity of childhood.  We get caught up in the matter of survival -- job, mortgage, family -- and lose sight of the wonders of youth.

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