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Analysis

Animal Imagery

Symbol Analysis

The animals in this poem are all beautifully described and used as metaphors for the woolen socks. The idea is that the socks come to life—like real, live animals—through the use of figurative language. Notice that there are animals from all over: the sea, the sky, and the earth. This really anchors the socks in the natural world from various angles, and also makes it easy for almost anyone to relate.

  • Lines 6-7: The first animals to show up are rabbits, and they are used in a simile to describe the texture of the socks, which is really soft. Mentioning the way that the socks feel, in addition to how they look, gives the poem more dimensions as it uses more of the five senses.
  • Lines 17-19: Here it's not the socks that are being compared to animals, but the speaker's feet. They become, when wearing the socks, two woolen fish. This has to do with how they look— probably kind of long and skinny—and also how they feel, which is woolen. The clash in the terms "woolen" and "fish" has the effect of reminding the reader that this is a metaphor.
  • Lines 20-21: The fish-feet transform into "two long sharks / of lapis blue." This is an extension of the previous metaphor, now being more specific about what type of fish we're dealing with and what color the socks-sharks are.
  • Line 24: From the sea to the sky, now the feet are gigantic birds: "two mammoth blackbirds." This tells us more about the color of the yarn, but also continues the idea of the speaker's feet having wild, unrestrained freedom—as fish, as sharks, and now as a birds. 
  • Lines 46-52: Through another simile, the socks are here compared to fireflies, because the speaker thinks they are so beautiful that it would be better to save them, like children who trap fireflies in a bottle. The thing is, though, as any ex-child knows, fireflies don't last long trapped in a jar. The socks are meant to be free, or, as it were, worn.
  • Lines 56-63: Here the socks are compared to caged bids in a metaphor. This extends the idea of the trapped fireflies. If the speaker were to save the socks and never wear them, they would be like beautiful pets, but wouldn't be free.
  • Lines 63-69: Finally, we get back to the forest and the socks are like a poor little deer that was killed and eaten in order for explorers to survive. Even if the hunters regret having to kill the deer (or, in this case, wear the socks), it's necessary for their survival.
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