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The Downside

Symbol Analysis

The first stanza of the poem can be a bit of a downer. Luckily, the problems seem to lie of the surface of the earth, and the surface of the people who live on it.

  • Line 5: The repetition of "trod" sounds like people walking heavily, with broken spirits and bodies, on a broken earth. So we have onomatopoeia
  • Line 6: We agree there are big problems in the environment, but the word "all" is almost always a hyperbole alert. It does highlight the point. "Smeared" and "bleared" create imagery in the poem, making us picture a blurry, off-center world.
  • Line 7: Here the earth is personified, quite cleverly, with the word "wears," suggesting that humans have succeeded in making over the earth in their own image, by making it look and smell human. But, we can take off what we wear. So the image remains on the surface.
  • Lines 7-8: We have two synecdoches on our hands. The lonely "soil" comes to stand for all that has been taken away from the surface of the planet. Likewise, the lonely "foot" that has forgotten how to "feel" due to the interference of the shoe. This image stands in for the whole of the human race, and its isolation from nature.

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