Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 517
The Search for Meaning
At the core of this poem is a search. The speaker of “Wodwo” lets readers know from the very first line that he is searching for what he is, and by extension who he is. He is looking for emotional meaning and enlightenment through a physical traipse through the woods. As the poem continues, it becomes clear to readers that the speaker is also searching for his place in the world. Man's place in the world is a powerful and long-lasting theme. It has been thematically discussed across centuries of literature, and different literary movements are continually moving man's importance around. This poem is unique because at times, it puts the speaker on par with various parts of nature; however, in other places the poet announces that he is "the exact centre." The Wodwo is making his way through nature while simultaneously trying to find meaning in its complex interactions. Through the Wodwo is intended to be a “wild man” or creature of sorts, it is hard not see the shared humanness in his actions.
Individuality and Community
A prominent theme present in the poem is the theme of individuality versus community. This can be seen in the number of times that the poet uses the word "I." It appears nearly two dozen times throughout the poem, and it shows readers that the poem's speaker is very much reflecting internally on himself. The poem also conveys a message that the speaker thinks very highly of himself at times. He is free to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. He has no “threads” or “roots,” he remarks several times, giving him the freedom to come and go as he pleases. There is freedom in this independence; at the same time, there is a loneliness or lack of community. This is particularly relevant when the Wodwo asks if there are others like him. It is a reflection on the role of the individual versus the role of the community. How the two fit together is circumstantial and subject to change—the Wodwo is discovering how this connection exists in the first place. In order to best understand the individual, it is necessary to consider the interactions outside of one’s self.
The Importance of Perseverance
The theme of perseverance is central to the poem. “Wodwo” is all about the speaker searching for his place in the world and trying to discover what he is. For every possible answer that he receives, it is almost always met with another question; this is important. Getting an answer only to be met with another question can be incredibly frustrating, but the Wodwo doesn't give up. He keeps searching, and the poem ends without the speaker having a definitive answer. That doesn't bother him, because he says that he'll keep searching. It's a very hopeful ending. It also suggests that life itself is not about answering all of the questions that arise. Perhaps it is more important to remain curious and allow ourselves to not know everything. As long as we keep persevering, there is something to learn.