What does the poem "The Trees" by Adrienne Rich actually portray? Is its meaning meant to be taken literally or metaphorically?

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The poem is a figurative story of liberation. In the poem, the poet writes of how the plants in her house are breaking out of their confinement and returning to their wild home within the forest. This poem can be interpreted as a slight against domesticity and as a revolutionary return to the wild under the cover of the night that cloaks the movements of the revolutionaries. The indoor trees are described as ones that move toward their freedom with the unsteady gait of those who have been patients. One could read this as the plants being sick, healing, and returning to the forest, or, as the plants being akin to those who have been institutionalized and have rebelled against this captivity and escaped to their beautiful freedom.

The poem is one of a deep, un-ignorable calling. The plants seemed to be pulled toward the forest as their roots work tirelessly at night to secure their freedom from the confines of the house. One could certainly read this poem through an anti-civilization interpretation that applies to both humans and non-humans alike. The speaker is unsurprised at the trees' escape into the wild. She may know at some deeper level that living beings yearn for the freedom of the wild, and her unconscious is thus not taken aback by this yearning for freedom, for the undomestic.

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