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Symbol Analysis

There are all kinds of plants growing in this poem—trees, flowers, ivy, you name it. This might be a way of bringing nature in, as she's beautiful and fertile, like the beloved, but she can also be very deadly. Case in point: watch out for that ivy—it's almost always poisonous in the poem. If you have trouble remembering, just flip through some old copies of Batman to remind yourself that just because ivy is pretty doesn't mean it isn't deadly. On the other hand, trees and flowers are pretty much harmless here, so those you can enjoy.

  • Line 1: These two types of trees grow near water, and require a lot of water, connecting the plant imagery to the water imagery throughout the poem.
  • Line 3: The tree is strong and stable, but still can move joyfully. This allows it to bend over, fitting in with the other arches in this stanza.
  • Line 43: This is the first appearance of ivy, and here it is used in a simile comparing the speaker's glances to ivy covering his beloved's body. 
  • Line 63: The "tree of liquid" could be the poplar or the willow from the beginning of the poem, but here it is a metaphor for the lover herself. 
  • Lines 98-99: Grapes are used as a metaphor for the young, fertile girls. 
  • Lines 116-117: Ivy here takes on a sinister meaning. In the earlier appearance it was compared to the lover's gaze; here it is a destructive force compared to the lover in a metaphor
  • Lines 126-128: The liana (a climbing plant) and vine are grouped with the poisonous plant, and are followed by the resurrection flower and grape of life. So here we see death and life described through a list of plant names. 
  • Lines 130-131: The jasmine and roses are fragrant flowers, and both of them precede painful, violent images. 
  • Lines 171-179: In an extended metaphor, the forgotten moment is likened to a fruit tree that grows within the speaker, representing his obsession with memory. 
  • Lines 257-285: The speaker compares himself to a tree in this simile
  • Lines 302-303: Using personification, the speaker compares a peach tree to a guest. 
  • Lines 322-323: The tree here seems to allude to Eden, where Adam and Eve were able to drink and eat with no worries (for a while anyway). 
  • Lines 372-375: The vines are back, and they're still dangerous—this time they're related to forbidden love. 
  • Lines 382-383: A flower is used to describe chastity in this metaphor
  • Line 402: The speaker uses a simile to compare the way his lover walks to a tree. Remember how he did the same with himself in lines 257-285? 
  • Line 404: The beloved is compared to wheat in this simile, in a reference to life and growth.

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