What is the meaning of this poem and the figures of speech used. What is the meaning behind the figures of speech. Please Help!The gaudy tapestry of Junesuddenly quickens:bees drumming...

What is the meaning of this poem and the figures of speech used. What is the meaning behind the figures of speech. Please Help!

The gaudy tapestry of June

suddenly quickens:

bees drumming gregorian

lilacs swinging censers

In my middle age Ive stepped

into the medievel world

Christ`s body nailed to every tree

his blood emblazoning the rose

the air`s a whir with angels

Shhh, Shhh says the srinkler

calling me to silence

the only other sound

the crack of roots thirsting

My body tightens with the dandelion

tug of white hairs

about to explode

Everywhere hints fo what comes next

like the family stories

The mist that rose from Grandfathers chest

when his eyes iced over

Aunt Sudie dragging Maudie

with her to the grave

M own journey

out of this wrecked body

pulled by the weight of bones

and upward gravity

The other world will not let go

Vaughan, Trahern, Ammons, Wright

have made me a visitor to earth

thier words crowding my head like angels poised on a pin

Expert Answers
davidwheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem is about death. The poet feels that he/she is close to death and this affects their word choice and helps to explain their choice of figures of speech.

The first two lines suggest a normal June. Gaudy tapestry is a metaphor which suggests that in the summer everything is colourful because so many plants are in bloom. Tapestries were wall hangings very popular in medieval times and the poet, who is in a garden, introduces figures of speech to do with religion, especially medieval religion. The sound of the bees is gregorian - gregorian chanting is done by monks. The lilacs's perfume is swinging censers- another metaphor associated with church. Censers are swung by priests and spread sweet-smelling incense around the church. Even the roses and the red blossoms on the trees remind him of Christ's body on the cross - the red of the rose petals reminding him of Christ bleeding on  the cross. Even the sounds of the garden take on religious overtones: the sounds in the air, even the sprinkler, remind him of angels. This is a very Christian poem and it is natural for someone approaching death to be haunted by these reminders of Christianity. It is ironic too that the garden is so full of life, while the poet is close to death. The poet also  uses onomatopoiea (another figure of speech) in words like whir and crack.

The poet then uses a metaphor to compare his body to the dandelion - a dandelion which has lost its flowers and is in that furry state where it is about to  explode and spread its seeds on the wind. The poet writes

Everywhere hints of what comes next

and what comes next is death. The poem changes direction at this point and the poet remembers members of his own family who have died - his grandfather, Aunt sadie and Maudie. He then returns to what he calls my own journey - a metaphor for the journey through life and to the grave.  He seems near death -his body is wrecked. He is pulled down towards the grave by the weight of bones, but upward gravity pulls him upwards towards heaven because of his strong religious belief. Upward gravity is a figure of speech known as an oxymoron - it is a contradiction: gravity pulls us downwards, but this gravity pulls him up to heaven.

He writes at the end that the other world (heaven) will not let him go. He then mentions by name four poets. The first two are English and were writing in the 17th century; the final two are American and modern, althouhg Ammon is now dead. All four poets were inyetrested in Christian mysticism, but were also passionately interested in the natural world. The poem is set in a garden and the poet has been acutely conscious of the bees, the roses and the dandelion - the tiny beautiful details of God's creation.

And so, although this poem is about being very close to death, it is happy and contented in tone. The poet is cheered up by the words of other poets whose work he admires and he knows that he is simply a visitor to earth - which suggests that death will take him to his real home - Heaven. In the middle ages the question of how many angels could balance on the head of a pin was discussed a lot by religious thinkers - here it simply suggests that the words of the poets he has mentioned are crowding into his mind and making him feel better, more reconciled to death.

Hope this is useful. Any more questions - please just ask!