Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Cut the heat—
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.
- Just when we started getting all comfy with this heat and hungry for some fruit salad, the apostrophe to the wind comes back.
- The speaker is still asking the wind to "cut the heat," but this time, she conjures up a very specific image. She asks, or rather, commands, the heat to "plough" through the heat. She is using a metaphor
here; "ploughing" is a method of farming in which the earth is broken
up and turned over. (Take a look at this image of some horse-ploughing here.)
- Of course, the wind is not a horse, and the heat is not the land. The wind
can't "plough" the way a horse can. But hey, that's what a metaphor
does, and H.D. creates a powerful image here of something that's really
hard to see. You can't see the wind or the heat, but H.D. makes these
things visible in her poem.
- We don't know what you've got going in your own minds, but we're definitely thinking of our Biblical bud Moses parting the Red Sea here. But instead of Moses, "Heat" has the wind. Cool image, if we do say so ourselves.
- So, something pretty cool happens as an effect of this metaphor: the
speaker accomplishes in words exactly what she's asking the wind to do.
She wants a wind tunnel, and, by describing her desire, she creates a
wind tunnel in words that we can see in our minds. Whether or not the wind follows her lead, the speaker has proven her power 'cause she's created her own wind tunnel.
- And since the heat is something you feel,
perhaps the speaker has served as her own air-conditioner. What do you
think? Has the speaker has cooled herself off? Or is the day just as
hot as ever?
- Something else to think about: as per usual, there are a whole bunch of repeating sounds in this stanza—Ts and Ths are
everywhere (in "path" and "through" and in "cut," "heat," and "it").
Hello to our old friend consonance!
- And another thing—and this is a big thing—do you think that the whole poem
is just one big metaphor? Is it possible that the heat is a symbol for something else?
- The poem isn't ever explicit about it, but we can't help but feel like the
heat is a symbol for sexual desire. Our speaker is all hot and bothered,
temperatures are rising, and ripe fruit is all over the poem. And
somehow, this sexual desire is not good. The heat is so oppressive that
the speaker summons the wind to erase it.
- And hold onto your horses, we're gonna get graphic for a sec. We could definitely interpret
some of the poem's verbs—"rend," "plough"—as symbols for sexual
intercourse. And fruit has a long history as a symbol for desire.
(Remember our old friends Adam, Eve, and that apple.)
- Perhaps the relief from the heat that the speaker desires is not cooling down,
but sexual release. What do you think of them apples?
- Just to reiterate: we don't happen to think that heat necessarily equals sexual desire in this poem. Rather, we think it's one way to think about the poem.
- H.D.'s Imagist style creates some awesome images, but it's up to her readers
(we're looking at you, kids) to interpret them. So is the heat just the
heat? We'll leave that one up to you.