Write a brief analysis of Hilda Doolittle's poem "The Pool."www.bartleby.com/265/83.html Your analysis should comment on how meaning or a particular effect is achieved through the use of one or...

Write a brief analysis of Hilda Doolittle's poem "The Pool."
  • Your analysis should comment on how meaning or a particular effect is achieved through the use of one or more of the following: irony, tone, imagery, rhyme, or rhythm.

2 Answers

carol-davis's profile pic

carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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   Hilda Doolittle, an American imagist poet, wrote with the belief that every word in a poem has to contribute to the presentation.  The imagery poet uses figures of speech to cast a picture in the reader's mind.  These pictures created by the poet are called "images." To participate fully in the world of this poem, it is important to undertand what the images actually say and what is really meant. In the poem, The Pool,"  Doolittle speaks intimately about an issue that she faced through her life:  her bi-sexuality.  One of her mentors, Sigmund Freud,  worked with Doolittle concerning her sexuality, which led to her standing as an icon for both the gay movement and feminine rights.

   With this knowledge, addressing the poem beccomes an easier task.  First, the reader must ask these questions: Who is the narrator of the poem? Is the poet symbolically finding a lover and bringing her under her wing?  Or is the narrator a person who finds someone in a pool, shaking and almost drowned, and saves her life?

   The poem literally makes the reader imagine that someone is almost dead in a pool.   A person touches her, and the person shakes.  The poet pulls her in with a net and asks who she is.  This is the bare bones of the poem;  but for an imagery poet,  there has to be a deeper meaning.

   Figurately, the poet may be asking if the other person feels alive.  Reacting to the narrator's touch, the other person shudders like a fish that has been caught and tagged.  The poet pulls near to her and asks: "Who are you?" and "Why have you been labeled?"  Covered by the net implies a lack of freedom.  The mention of the sea and net together evoke feelings of being trapped under the conventions of society and the conflictedd thoughts that come with the traditional roles women play: woman, daughter, wife, friend, lover, artist, human being...

   As a bi-sexual person, Doolittle faced just such a situation. She played many roles; but, ultimately, she became a many faceted person.  Sometimes, we have difficulty, especially as adolescents, understanding our feelings.  We do not know what our emotions mean.  We question who we are and what we want from life.  It might be satisfying to have someone pull us close and help us to understand as the poet says in the last line: "What are you-banded one?"

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Hilda Doolittle's (known as HD) poem "The Pool" can be analyzed in a few different ways.

Are you alive?
I touch you.
You quiver like a sea-fish.
I cover you with my net.
What are you - banded one?

Literal Analysis

When examining the poem's title, one can see the speaker talking to a pool. As the speaker touches the surface of the water, a ripple most likely extends out from the fingertip. The surface of the water begins to quiver, or ripple. The covering of the surface can be a little more difficult to analyze. The cover could represent something which has gotten into the pool and died--the net symbolizing a death shroud for the "banded one."

Figurative Analysis

Figuratively, when one removes the title of the poem, the lines could refer to many different things. The poem could be about a frightened child in striped clothing or a person close to death.


The tone of the poem is calm and somewhat apprehensive. The use of the short lines and questions prove the speaker's interest and curiosity.


Each line contains a different type of image. Imagery is used by an author to allow the engaged reader to create a mental image of their text by appealing to the five senses of the reader. Here, the poem appeals to touch, hearing, and seeing.

The first and last lines of the poem are questions and appeal to the reader's sense of hearing. Lines two and four appeal to the reader's sense of touch (giving the touch of the water and the action of covering something). The third line appeals to the reader's sight. The reader can see the quivering of the metaphorical sea-fish.