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Nature and Tradition

Symbol Analysis

Nature seems to act as the third wheel in this poem – the silent character swirling around the speaker and his neighbor. Although he doesn’t explicitly describe the landscape, we see it very clearly, and we seem to know what the seasons are like in this part of the world. Similarly, tradition seems to be the silent subject over which the speaker and his neighbor wrestle. The neighbor upholds his ancestors’ way of life, while our speaker questions this philosophy.

  • Line 5: "Hunters" are a metaphor both for the speaker and for us (the readers), all of whom try to get at something (even if we don’t know exactly what that something is).
  • Line 25: The apple trees are momentarily personified, as the speaker claims that they will never wander across and eat the pine cones on his neighbor’s property.
  • Line 51: The speaker uses a simile and likens his neighbor to "an old-stone savage armed," or a caveman ready for battle.

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