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Themes

In some ways, "Heat" is all about humankind's encounter with the natural world. Sometimes, we're happy with what we find in nature—we love a good sunny day, a cool breeze, fragrant flowers, a beautiful stream. But nature can sometimes be brutal and oppressing, and there's nothing like a swelteringly hot day to remind us that we can't control everything in our lives. We don't get to dictate the weather, unfortunately, and sometimes we suffer through droughts, tornadoes, earthquakes, and just plain ol' boiling hot and humid days. On days like these, sometimes an apostrophe to the wind is the best, and the most, we can do.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Is the heat in the poem something that's surmountable? Or is the speaker doomed to suffer?
  2. Does the heat affect the speaker alone? Where else do you see the heat's effect on the world?
  3. What is the effect of the objectification of heat in this poem? Does the heat change in anyway as the speaker imagines that it can be "cut" or "rent"?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The heat isn't totally oppressive in this poem; the speaker knows that she can call on the wind for help cooling off. There's hope!

The wind is totally oppressive in this poem. The speaker calls for help, but she never receives it. You can't change the weather.

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