Analysis of The Garden by Ezra Pound

This poem "The Garden" was written by Ezra Pound, the father of Imagist poetry. Let’s start by reviewing the elements of Imagist poetry; Precise and concrete images; Simple language; Nontraditional subjects; Concern for the individual trapped by blind laws of heredity and environment of chance; Beauty in real life; and Freedom of rhythm. It was published in 1913 when Pound was living in England.

“Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens.
 And she is dying piecemeal of a sort of emotional anemia. 
And round about there is a rabble
Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
 They shall inherit the earth. 
In her is the end of breeding. 
 Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.  
She would like someone to speak to her,  
And is almost afraid that I  
will commit that indiscretion.” 

Start by identifying words that you don’t know. For example, skein, which means a small, coiled bundle of yarn or thread. She is a skein of loose silk, which gives us the image of her beautiful silk dress blowing into the wall. The woman seems at the mercy of the elements. Perhaps she is small or thin. The setting is Kensington Gardens, a beautiful park in London that was typically visited by the wealthy. Next, the speaker says she is dying piecemeal, meaning a piece at a time, of an emotional anemia. Anemia is a medical condition that makes one weak. In this case it is used figuratively that the woman is emotionally weak. She’s tired of her wealthy, upper-class life.

The Garden by Ezra Pound

The next stanza is in contrast to the woman. Around her is the rabble of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor. Unlike the woman, these children are sturdy and unkillable so they will inherit the earth, not the upper class. The third stanza starts with “In her is the end of breeding.” Meaning she has few prospects of mates from those who are part of her rich upper crust society. The speaker notices she’s bored and that it is both exquisite and excessive. The speaker feels upper-class young people are overly sheltered in their comfortable lives. She would like to speak to someone. Make a connection and be healed of her emotional anemia and isolation, but at the same time, she fears that the speaker will talk to her. He is obviously of a lower class and it would be an indiscretion, that is unwise for her to talk to him. She desires a connection but is too afraid of society’s expectations to break from them. What is the poem about? The speaker sits in Kensington Gardens watching a beautiful, young, but sad and isolated society woman and compares her to the very poor, but strong and happy children playing in the park. What is the tone? He seems fascinated by her; what words let us know this? He is an observer she is described as an image of loose silk, he is interested in her unhappiness or emotional anemia. He notes that she would like someone to speak to her, but never offers to do so. He is only watching.

The theme of the poem The Garden is about society. What is the speaker saying about society? He points out that the world, and remember this is 1913, specifically, society is changing and the classes are changing. Those of the upper class need to change along with it, or they will be left behind lonely and isolated and disappearing.

So lastly, what elements of imagism do we see in this poem The Garden? Precise and concrete images are definitely seen with the image of the woman and loose silk, we have the image of the sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor, and the image of the man watching her in her boredom. Simple language is seen in the fact that most words are simple and can be understood. Nontraditional subjects - this is the subject of classes, but it’s being looked at in a new and modern way. Concern for the individual trapped by heredity, which is family, in this case, we have family expectations. We have an individual who seems to be trapped by society and how she should act. Beauty and realism - the skein of loose silk. Freedom of rhythm - the poem doesn’t follow a specific rhyme scheme and doesn’t use meter or rhythm. It is free verse. So that is how it covers the elements of Imagism.

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