Study Guide

Heat Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters. (1-3)

The poem begins with the classic sign of the apostrophe: the oh-so-dramatic "O"! The whole poem is actually a command (or, in fancy words, an "imperative") to the wind. The speaker is so hot that she's desperately reaching out and attempting to control the weather—kinda like a rain dance. But instead, a wind dance. Silly? Or powerful? It's up to how you read it.

Cut the heat—
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path. (10-13)

This image is so vivid—the image of a jet of cool air mowing down the heat—that we can almost feel it happening to us. But let's remember, the speaker is telling the wind to come plough down the heat. It's not actually happening. So again, we're faced with the question: is language powerful because it creates powerful images? Can images really cool us down? Or are there forces bigger than us that no language can control?

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