What do the bears represent in this poem?  I've read this poem over and over again, and I'm not sure what the bears are supposed to represent. When I read it, it just seems like she's talking...

What do the bears represent in this poem?

 

I've read this poem over and over again, and I'm not sure what the bears are supposed to represent. When I read it, it just seems like she's talking about bears walking through her house at night.


"Wonderful bears that walked my room all night,
Where have you gone, your sleek and fairy fur,
Your eyes' veiled and imperious light?

Brown bears as rich as mocha or as musk,
White opalescent bears whose fur stood out
Electric in the deepening dusk,

And great black bears that seemed more blue than black,
More violet than blue against the dark-
Where are you now? Upon what track

Mutter your muffled paws that used to tread
So softly, surely, up the creakless stair
While I lay listening in bed?

When did I lose you? Whose have you become?
Why do I wait and wait and never hear
Your thick nocturnal pacing in my room?
My bears, who keeps you now, in pride and fear?"

My best guess is that the speaker is afraid of these bears, but misses them since they have left? I'm not too sure. Please help!

Asked on by briaxxo

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amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This poem makes me think of Where the Wild Things Are. The speaker of the poem is recalling a time when she was a child and imagined these bears walking around in her room. Notice in the first stanza that "walked" is the past tense. The speaker wonders where the bears have gone. I think she is lamenting the loss of her childhood and the loss of that less inhibited imagination that we all have/had as children. When she asks "who keeps you now, in pride and fear," The speaker imagines another child who is both afraid and proud of his/her imaginative creations. 

If this is a nostalgia poem, one in which the speaker fondly recalls her childhood, then the bears represent innocence, fear, childhood, and imagination. She wonders when she lost the bears; she wonders when she became an adult. 

Sources:

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