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Fire

Symbol Analysis

If water is related to life, then fire, its elemental opposite, is related to death. There are several images of people burning up, which is pretty creepy and violent, and which tells us a lot about the way the speaker feels about death. Think about the purifying effects of fire, too, though, when pondering the rebirth at the end of the poem.

  • Line 22: The fire here makes the wind sing, so even though it's destructive it retains some beauty. 
  • Line 53: The beloved's eyes are aflame and burn a hummingbird, showing the danger among all the beautiful images
  • Line 118: The image of a writing of fire on a piece of jade hints at magical, mystical forces. 
  • Lines 136-140: The face that the speaker tries to remember is devoured by fire, and the moment that he has forgotten, too, is on fire. This starts to give us the idea that the memory and the person he wants to remember have something to do with death. 
  • Lines 188-189: The speaker, wounded, compares his pain to fire in a simile
  • Lines 455-464: Here the flames are strongly related to death in this series of metaphors that describe the body being consumed by fire.

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