What is the theme of "A Girl" by Ezra Pound?

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Classical allusion is another theme of the poem "A Girl" by Ezra Pound. This short poem could easily refer to the ancient Greek myth of Daphne. As recorded by Ovid in Metamorphosis and Hesiod in Theogony, the nymph Daphne is the daughter of a river goddess and Zeus. When the god Apollo becomes enamored with her, Daphne refuses his advances but to no avail. In order to escape Apollo, Daphne pleads with her father, Zeus, to transform her into something that Apollo cannot recognize. Zeus consequently turns Daphne into a bay tree.

Ezra Pound's poem borrows heavily from this myth and shows the pivotal moment from the girl's point of view. At first glance, this poem can be interpreted as being about a girl coming into maturity. When considered in the light of the myth, we can see that the first stanza is written from Daphne's point of view as she transforms into her new existence. The second and final stanza is from Apollo's point of view as he beholds the new form that the woman of his affection (or rather obsession) has taken.

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One could argue that the overriding theme of this very short poem is the wonder of childhood. In particular, Pound appears to be asserting the importance of retaining a sense of childhood wonder in creating works of art.

Once the artist has embarked upon a life of artistic creation, there's nowhere left for her to go. She is above the world in the sense of having a heightened sense of childlike wonder. Most people, having lost that initial sense of wonder, don't fully understand this aesthetic attitude toward life and nature and so regard it as nothing more than folly. Yet wonder animates the very soul of the artist, transforming her into something different from the common run of humanity. It's as if she's been metamorphosed into a giant, stately tree that looks down on everyone in its towering majesty.

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Most poems have many different themes, so it's possible to interpret this poem from many angles.

One theme that stood out to me as I read this is the theme of growth. Children grow into adults. Seeds grow into trees.

The first stanza of Ezra Pound's poem could be a metaphor for growth. The girl might be speaking, saying she is growing into a tree, which would be a metaphor for adulthood. She says the tree grows in her hands, arms, and breasts, and that it grows outward from her.

"The branches grow out of me, like arms."

This line could be talking about how our growth affects others. When we as humans grow, we are changed, but we also change our interactions with others and with the world around us.

The second stanza could be the grown girl talking to her younger self, or it could be the poet talking to the girl.

It expands the image of the tree to include moss and violets. This could be symbolic of life in general—not just the growth of the tree but the interaction with all elements of a forest. Violets could be a reference to physical beauty.

Finally, the last line, "All this is folly to the world," might be a reference to some of the obstacles that inhibit growth. Instead of allowing her to grow free and wild, the world's pressures force the girl to grow into an expected outcome. There's no room for folly, or creativity, or wild branches and violets growing untamed.

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