Planting a Sequoia

Topics: Madrid Metro, Metropolitana di Napoli, Life Pages: 4 (1457 words) Published: March 5, 2013
Dana Gioia‘s poem, “Planting a Sequoia” is a dramatic monologue, written in blank verse that leads readers through the thoughts and journey of a man who has experienced the death of his infant son. The speaker of the poem plants a sequoia tree in the memory of his son and this suggests the consistent tone present in the poem which is of a hopeful one. Through the speaker’s comparison of the sequoia tree to his son, a significant theme present in this poem is the experience of a father in which he copes with his child’s death. He copes with this death, in his own way, by placing a hope and significant value in the symbolism of the planting of a sequoia tree. In the first stanza, readers are placed in a setting in which the speaker is “digging” a hole and “laying” someone into it and “carefully packing the soil” (line 2). This suggests the action of burying a loved one, supported by the connotation of the words “carefully” and “laying” which indicates the action is being done very consciously or in a delicate way as they handle someone who is of great value. The actions taken to plant a sequoia tree is parallel to the actions of a burial, suggesting that the sequoia tree symbolizes the speaker’s son. The diction in this stanza, specifically the words, “rain blackened”, “cold winds”, and “dull gray” allows for the imagery of a gloomy, dark and mournful setting such as a funeral. Also, the figurative language of “Of an old year coming to an end” (line 5) provides readers with the symbolism of death which in turn, creates a general mood of mourning and gloominess in the poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker’s constant reference to “you” and “us” suggests the speaker is expressing his thoughts to or communicating with his son. A hopeful tone is recognized as the speaker wishes to still keep his son alive, despite his death, by communicating with him and by using “you” and “us”, this also indicates a personal connection the speaker still feels to his son. The...
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