Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air—
- Now, we're getting some more info about why the speaker wants some coolness. Apparently the "fruit cannot drop" off trees, because the air is so thick with humidity.
- Okay, speaker, we've gotta call you out. You're exaggerating here; you're using hyperbole. As hot as it may be outside, there's no amount of humidity that can defy gravity.
- So, our speaker is embellishing a bit, but she does this for a reason: to prove how swelteringly hot it really is outside. She's going really far in her description.
- In fact, she's creating a powerful image of this heat though her description of the fruit that cannot drop. Heat is not something you can see. It's something you feel.
- But H.D., supreme Imagiste, turns that feeling into an image you can see. Voila: Imagism!
- Just one more thing to think about: Since the beginning of time (well, at least since Adam and Eve), fruit has been a symbol of sex and sexuality. Is it possible that H.D. is drawing on this metaphorical aspect of fruit? What do you think?
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.
- Once again, our speaker is telling us about the heat. (Are you surprised? Probably not. This poem's called "Heat" after all.)
- Here the speaker continues telling us about the heat's effect on the fruit. The "fruit cannot fall" into the heat. Once again, the speaker gives the heat extraordinary gravity-defying powers.
- The heat seems really tangible here. It's almost like an object that you can reach out and touch. H.D. is concretizing, or maybe even objectifying this heat. The heat becomes more than just temperature on the thermometer; it's something tangible in the world.
- And it has tangible effects on the world. In addition to keeping the fruit on the trees, the speaker tells us that the heat gives shape to the fruit.
- The heat creates the shapes of the pears and grapes. In other words, the heat helps in the fruit's ripening.
- While the heat at first seemed overbearing—the speaker definitely wants it to go away—here it seems totally natural and necessary. Our delicious pears and grapes are ripened by the sun's heat!
- Also, take a second and note all of the repeated sounds in these lines. The alliterative Ps of "presses," "points," and "pears," and the alliterative Fs of "fruit" and "fall."
- All these repetitions make us feel like the poem is just a wee-bit claustrophobic. The poem is sonically dense, and there are so many repetitions. The poem is closing in on us! (Cue the scary music).
- Or, you might look at it another way: maybe you find the repetitions soothing. Maybe you're happy to be lulled into the warm and snuggly sleeping bag of "Heat."