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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 274

The "Anecdote of the Jar" is a short, three-stanza poem. Here are some quotes from the poem:

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It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

By its placement on the hill, the jar, with its perfect rounded, orderly sides, makes the wilderness around it somehow seem "slovenly," or messy. By its very presence, the jar marks a distinction between what is planned and organized and what is wild and untamed. Its sides mark the boundary between nature and human civilization. It is incredible that such a simple object can, when placed in nature, create such a distinction with the world around it.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.

In these lines, the jar, by being a product of civilization, defines the wilderness around it. The jar, and the sides of the jar, mark the delineation between nature and civilization. By its very presence in nature, the jar makes the wilderness more tame and not totally wild anymore. It takes dominion everywhere, even though it is a stationary object without the force or majesty of nature.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,

The jar is able to establish its dominance, or "dominion," over everything around it, even though it is not colorful and does not bear fruit of any kind. It's more amazing and uncanny in a way that the jar is able to dominate without being able to host animals or sprout leaves. It bears none of the mysteries of nature, but it is able to dominate as a human-made object and define everything around it.

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