Planting a Sequoia

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Planting a Sequoia is a poem written by Dana Gioia, and it’s about a man planting a tree, to commemorate the death and birth of his son. This poem has three main themes which would be life and death, tradition and grief. The poem starts off with the voice of the father who is speaking to his dead son as he starts to plant a tree and explains the tradition in Sicily, Italy where at the birth of the first son, the father would normally plant a fig or olive tree. But to his son that died, he plants a sequoia with a lock of hair and the umbilical cord which personalizes the tree, and gives a stronger representation of the dead son to the father.

The main theme of the poem is life and death. The Sequoia would represent an everlasting life, since a sequoia tree would normally last two thousands of years. The sequoia would represent the rebirth of the dead child, which is proven in the poem when he puts a lock of the child’s hair and the umbilical cord before he plants it. The father speaks to the tree as if it’s his own son, referring it as ‘you’ ‘wrapping in your roots’ and ‘we plant you in the corner’. The planting of the tree also gives the idea of giving up on one life for the creation of a new one, which is going to live forever. Death is an important theme, because the author wants the reader to perceive the idea that there is no greater pain for a parent who has lost a child, but at the same time the poem is are celebrating the planting of the tree knowing that it is now in a better place. Another symbolism for life would be the fruit that grows in the tree, in the last verse of the first stanza ‘A promise of new fruit in other autumns’, Dana Gioia mentions for the first time his hope for a rebirth, it might represent the development from seed to fruit, which might be similar to the process of growth from a newborn to an adult.

The theme of tradition and custom is also very clear throughout the poem; the whole process of planting the tree is part of a...
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