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Explain Indentity

By IFIAMME May 19, 2013 537 Words
The speaker of the poem declares that unlike other misguided souls who choose a disciplined life, he prefers to be a rowdy rebel. The unfortunate choice of comparing himself and others to plants demonstrates the poet’s lack of skill in poetry composition. The poem consists of five uneven verse paragraphs, which regarding the subject matter makes a perverse kind of sense. That it is pretending to be a poem at all then balances the sense in the negative. First Verse Paragraph

The speaker begins by setting up a dichotomy between himself and others. He never identifies the others, so the reader assumes that they are any other people whose philosophy disagrees with the speaker’s. The self-aggrandizing speaker declares, “Let them be as flowers, / always watered, fed, guarded, admired, / but harnessed to a pot of dirt.” The mixed metaphor within the simile exposes the poet as a poetaster. The speaker compares other people to flowers that grow in a pot of dirt by employing the simile “Let them be as flowers.” He then suggests that “as flowers” they receive care, but they lack freedom because they grow in “a pot of dirt.” Trying to wax poetic, the poet mixes a metaphor with the term “harness.” Suddenly, the flower morphs into a horse. Second Verse Paragraph

In the second verse paragraph, the speaker reveals his preference; instead of being a well-kept flower stuck in pot of dirt, he’d rather be a “tall, ugly weed, / clinging on cliffs, like an eagle / wind-wavering above high, jagged rocks.” The problem with the logic here is that the ugly weed in also “harnessed” to the dirt. The speaker thinks that the ugly weed would be “like an eagle,” but clearly, this is impossible. The eagle perching on the “jagged rocks” will eventually fly away, but the ugly weed will remain in place, just as the lovely, well-cared for flowers will remain in place. Third Verse Paragraph

The speaker then describes what he wishes for himself as an ugly weed; he be able to break “through the surface of stone.” His saxifrage-like existence would allow him “to live, to feel exposed to the madness / of the vast, eternal sky.” He then asserts the vague notion of being “swayed by the breezes of an ancient sea.” These breezes would carry “[his] soul, [his] seed” to an equally vague place “the mountains of time or into the abyss of the bizarre.” Fourth Verse Paragraph

The opening two lines of the fourth verse paragraph contain an error that obstructs meaning: “I'd rather be unseen, and if / then shunned by everyone, / than to be a pleasant-smelling flower.” Leaving out “and if” or perhaps changing it to “or” clarifies the structure. But because the poet has inserted that phrase, the reader cannot be sure of the exact meaning. Nevertheless, the speaker makes the claim in this verse paragraph that he’d rather be “unseen” (or “shunned by everyone”) than be “a pleasant-smelling flower,” to be “praised, handled, and plucked / by greedy, human hands.” Fifth Verse Paragraph

Finally, the speaker asserts that he’d rather stink than smell pleasant. He assumes that a stinky “tall, ugly weed” has more freedom than a “fragrant lilac.”

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