Ezra Pound, in his poem, explains the importance of free verse. “A girl” explains the feelings of a girl suffering from Apollo. The poet says that the girl is someone who is special and should be proud of that instead of being ashamed. If God has made her this special way, this means that she is different from others.
In the first stanza, we come across how the reader is fascinated by the things that will progress. The tree looks like it absorbs the poet and fills the sap with his veins.
A Girl: Analysis
The reader comes across a communion between the poet and the tree. The poet may actually be holding the metaphoric person/tree in his hands as it sways toward him, allowing its essence to invade him. The poem’s imagery in metaphorical terms seems easy yet passionate, living yet inanimate, tender yet strong, and soft yet seething.
“The tree has grown into my breast.
The branches grown out of me like arms.”
In the second stanza, the poet speaks to what is referred to as the child. The mossy tree looks very young and seems tall. The poet describes the violets, which seem very fragile even in the wind, surrounding the tree. To the world, this playful talk is nothing but foolishness. Often, this simple joy is lost to the adult, but here it spreads to the narrator.
“A child-so high-you are
And all this is folly to the world.”
There is an alternate interpretation of the poem based on Greek mythology since Pound himself did not depict a clear meaning of his poem to the readers. It is the story of Daphne and Apollo. Apollo loved Daphne, and Daphne detested him. Apollo pursued Daphne relentlessly. Daphne begged her father to transform her so that Apollo could never recognize her, and that is what her father agreed to. The skin of the girl transformed into bark, along with the hair becoming leaves. Her arms were transformed into branches, and her feet became rooted to the ground. Apollo embraced the branches, but alas, the branches shrank away from him.
“The tree has entered my hands,
The sap has ascended my arms,
The tree has grown in my breast –
The branches grow out of me, like arms.”
The poet narrates that the girl is very much different and indeed special. No other girl has this specific vegetation grown on her body, be it imaginative.
The poet says that this is when the girl needs to stand up and show the world that she is as capable as others are in performing any task that she is assigned. When the poet states, “You are violets with wind above them,” the poet clarifies that it is now impossible for the girl to take a step downwards.
A Girl: Tone
This poem is based on ancient mythology, but it can also be said that through this poem, he wanted to share a message which is more definitive. Something that was very clear in his mind. As though he had lived a similar situation: falling in love with a girl who does not love him the same way, so she vanishes into the world, almost as though she is part of a landscape. The poem comes across a conversation, which is not difficult to understand, and the short use of words does help in a better understanding of the poem. No one really knows what Pound actually wanted to say in his poem, if it was all about mythology or something more personal or a message for society.
In this poem, we observe two different points of view. Daphne narrates the start of the poem. She is describing her feelings when being transformed. That is for the first five lines. Daphne’s transformation is something more than just becoming a tree; it can also represent a girl wanting to break free, to escape her life, just like a poem, a way of putting everything on hold and expressing in a different way what we feel about things.
Ezra Pound chose to employ a split narration in this poem. We come across the first five lines of the poem, and it seems that it is Daphne who is narrating the whole poem. In these lines, we come across Daphne’s description of her transformation. However, it is likely that according to Pound, the second part of the poem is from the perspective of Apollo. Even though Pound kept the ancient Greek mythology while writing the poem, it is worth mentioning that there are other various interpretations of this poem.
The ﬁrst narrator could be an older child detailing her ﬁgurative transformation into a tree, letting her imagination run wild. Pound avoided using any rigid structures throughout the poem and hence made the poem easy to understand as a conversation between two narrators. The free verse that Pound uses makes this poem whimsical and free from a sort of mythological factor; a child’s imagination is not constrained by any structure, just like the poem, which is also devoid of the same.
According to Pound, it is the right of every boy or girl who is born with a deformity to remain happy. As the vegetation keeps on growing on her body, the world tortures her more and more to the extent that the girl is disheartened. Critics, over the course of years, have continued with the real purpose and real interpretation of the poem by stating that the true interpretation of the poem is depicted through mythology or it might just be a lesson on the imagination of childhood.
Updated by Anjali Roongta on April 19, 2023
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