Study Guide

Demeter's Prayer to Hades Lines 6-10

By Rita Dove

Lines 6-10

Lines 6-7

Now for the first time
I see clearly the trail you planted,

  • We're back to those kooky Greek gods and their drama here. Demeter can see where Hades emerged as he came up from the underworld to steal Persephone. He left a trail.
  • A trail of what, you ask? The word "planted" would indicate he left some kind of seed.
  • Demeter uses lots of "planting" metaphors. After all, she is the goddess of agriculture. It's pretty fitting. (Check out "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay" for more on that.)
  • Could this trail be figurative language for some type of legacy? It's not clear just yet. Let's read on…

Line 8

what ground opened to waste,

  • Well, whatever Hades "planted," it didn't grow into anything. Instead, it turned everything to waste. (We guess his green thumb is still pretty black.)
  • In other words, on his selfish journey to steal Persephone, he harmed the world… and everyone in it. Way to go, hades.
  • Isn't that what happens when we act without thinking? Dove is reminding us that selfish actions have unforeseen repercussions and, well, they aren't very good.

Lines 9-10

though you dreamed a wealth
of flowers.

  • Hades didn't literally dream about flowers growing; Dove is using figurative language again. The flowers are a metaphor for good, prosperous thoughts.
  • In other words, Hades clearly didn't foresee his actions having any negative consequences—or maybe… he just didn't care.
  • Either way, the outcome wasn't as positive as he planned, just like the outcomes of our own selfish actions often are more negative than we considered (sad but true, Shmoopers).

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...