Study Guide

Proem Plant Imagery

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Plant Imagery

There's a lot of talk about vegetation in this poem, and they end up being the central metaphor of the work. All the plants are images for poetry, and can all be traced back down to words, then syllables. Language is made out to be a living, organic thing, as natural as the dandelions growing out on your lawn. This is a move against the artificiality that can sometimes be related to poetry, with all of its strict syllable counts and rhyme schemes. Yeah, Paz is rebelling against traditional poetry by comparing it to a houseplant. Bet you didn't see that coming!

  • Line 2: Poetry is compared to verbena, a plant that is considered by some to have some magical powers, growing under the sea, which doesn't happen in real life. So poetry can make things happen that don't normally happen in the real world. It has magical powers!
  • Line 9: Pronouns are like flowers growing in the gardens of the philosophers and poets, and can be cut to be used whenever they're needed for decoration—or just making the place smell nice.
  • Lines 11-12: Verbs and nouns are attributed with seeds and roots, and said to be planted in language. The parts of speech grow naturally, just like plants do.
  • Line 14: Syllables, the basic building blocks of speech, are the seeds that poets can plant to make all kinds of images grow.

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