Monday, January 3, 2011

"The Sensitive Plant"

Click Here to Open Poem

In Percy Shelly's, "The Sensitive Plant" Shelley has separated his poem into three separate parts and a conclusion. In the first part of the poem, Shelley portrays a wondrous, beautiful garden, full of life and luminosity. Shelley uses several realistic depictions of flowers and plants to provide the reader with a detailed insight into the garden. These stanzas full of details helped me picture the garden that Shelley so beautifully illustrated through his words and helped me understand what he was writing about. As part one continues, Shelley introduces a contradiction into the garden, The Sensitive Plant. Unlike the other flowers, this floweret is not vivid in color or shape, and lacks the beautiful odor flowers are characterized for. Percy Shelley goes on to say The Sensitive Plant
"loves, even like Love, its deep heart is full,
It desires what it has not, the Beautiful!"
(lines 76 and 77)
These two lines allowed The Sensitive Plant to take on a human like quality, envy to want what those surrounding you have. As the poem enters Part two, Shelley introduces a mother like woman into the picture. The woman was lovely, and took care of the garden as if it were her own children. This woman took the role as a mother like care-taker to the plants
" She lifted their heads with her tender hands,
And sustained them with rods and osier-bands;
If the flowers had been her own infants, she
Could never have nursed them more tenderly"
(lines 150-154)
She sustained life to the garden, helping them flourish and grow, and provided security to the plants, diminishing harmful insects that may harm her kin. The loving matriarch of the lush garden soon passes away as the season changes from Summer to Fall and the wind grows crisp, changing the leaves colors. The poem now continues onto Part three, where the garden is still flourishing for three days after their care-takers death. On the fourth day after her death, The Sensitive Plant hears the mourning of the humans passing by. The mourners pass through the garden, whose ground was once walked on lightly and with care, with heavy and slow foot steps. With the coming of winter and the loss of their mother, the garden takes a dramatic plunge towards death. The essence of the garden dwindles and no longer has an enchanting affect.
" The garden, once fair, became cold and foul,
Like the corpse of her who had been its soul,
Which at first was lovely as if in sleep,
Then slowly changed, till it grew a heap
To make men tremble who never weep. "
(Lines 191-195)
As the once beautiful plant life slowly fades away, many plants, that are often referred to as contrary to beautiful, start to invade the garden. Shelley uses plant species that are often frowned upon(fungi, mold, weeds) to symbolize death taking over in the garden. After the change from life to death, Shelley continues on to the conclusion. Shelley states that though the woman may not be there in mortal form; somewhere, her essence and soul continues to preside in the garden. At first glance, this poem may not be understood. At second glance, the poem may be thought of as an expression of human feelings. But when you look harder and longer this poem illustrates the human life cycle. In Part 1, Summer time depicts birth, lush life is everywhere and thriving. The woman in the poem indeed is like a mother, nurturing her young in the beginning of their lives. As the season changes, the care-taker dies, releasing the garden from her protection, and ultimately her security and safety. Just like a mother, the woman is no longer there to take care of the garden as she did in Spring and Summer time. Just like a child, the flowers struggle to survive independently. Winter symbolizes death, and the end of the garden, symbolizing the end of a life.

-Kailee Phillips

1 comment: