Study Guide

The Cool Web Tough-o-Meter

By Robert Graves

Tough-o-Meter

(5) Tree Line

Apart from the word "volubility" in line 12, there shouldn't be too many words or images in this poem that people don't recognize. What might be tough to figure out at first, though, is the concept of language that Robert Graves is putting forward in this poem. For many of us, language is just a tool of communication that we use to convey thoughts to one another. But for Graves, language actually shapes the way we experience the world, and it makes our experience a lot less intense by sorting through it and turning it into information.

It's not easy to figure out these ideas from a first reading, or even a second. Rather, it takes a little bit of knowledge about Modernist literature in general and the ideas of language you often find in it. But with a little help from your pals at Shmoop (who loves ya, baby?), this poem shouldn't be too tough to figure out.

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