by Rita Dove
The Narcissus Flower
Given that Narcissus the youth was the vainest of the vain, we can't be too far off in assuming that the Narcissus flower here represents vanity. Are we right or are we right?
- Line 1: The word choice is playful because of the allusion (discussed in "Shout-Outs"), but the flower itself is significant, too. It is beautiful and unique and seems to offer Persephone the promise of being special. But the flower is poisonous and its lovely flower is attached to a large, deeply rooted bulb. It reminds us that those little, cute temptations that don't really seem like a big deal can become big problems. It's also not surprising that a flower, a common symbol of female sexuality, would entice Persephone. In one sense, she is lured away from her childhood friends by a desire to seize her identity as a sexual being. Yep.