Metaphor in Patterns

Metaphor Examples in Patterns :

Patterns 14

"guarded from embrace..."   (Patterns)

Again, the softness of the speaker’s naked body is juxtaposed with the hard exterior of the dress she is wearing. The dress is literally figured as a prison “guarding” her from her desire. From this metaphor, the audience sees that the speaker is not only confined by social expectations but also trapped by them.

"asters..."   (Patterns)

Purple asters were laid on the graves of dead soldiers to symbolize the wish that things had turned out differently, that the soldiers were still alive. They were symbolic of not only death but the disbelief that accompanies death, the longing for a different outcome. The speaker imagines that the blue and yellow flowers of spring will be replaced by these asters. This metaphorically represents the speaker’s own transition from a young woman in the prime of her life to a woman with dashed hopes and nothing to anticipate but old age and death.

"Summer and in Winter I shall walk..."   (Patterns)

The speaker imagines herself walking through the garden in the future to show the lack of progression her life will have now that he is dead. The seasons in this line can be read as a representation of the periods in her lifespan. Summer represents adulthood; winter, old age. The absence of spring in this metaphor is a glaring image that suggests the woman’s youth is behind her. With the death of her lover, she has lost the prime of her life and been condemned to old age.

"blue and yellow flowers..."   (Patterns)

Notice how the blue and yellow flowers that seemed to signify the joy of spring at the beginning of the poem now seem out of place or mocking. The speaker’s experience of loss and inner sadness clashes with the environment she is in—a larger metaphor for her everyday experience in her society.

"white, morning sunlight,..."   (Patterns)

Notice that this description of the sunlight lacks the warmth and joy of the springtime garden. The “white” sunlight has connotations of cold brightness, or a harsh light that is unkind to the eyes. As soon as the speaker learns of her lover’s death, her “springtime” is replaced by this cold, sterile light. This signifies the moment in which her life shifts and she loses the promise of her future.

"What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!..."   (Patterns)

On a literal level, the speaker might be expressing that the gown is uncomfortable in the summer because it is hot and she cannot take it off to cool herself in the water; the gown prevents her from fulfilling her basic human needs. This exclamation also holds metaphorical meaning. The speaker cannot experience or enjoy summer, a representation of adulthood, because she is restricted by social constraints.

"marble basin,..."   (Patterns)

Although marble is a particularly hard substance, here it is aligned with the soft body against the stiff dress. This suggests that the dress is harder than the marble basin. Metaphorically this means that the social constraints on the speaker are more rigid than stone.

";..."   (Patterns)

The type of punctuation used in literature has a strong bearing on how we read words and phrases. In this case, the semicolon here indicates a close relationship between two independent clauses. This allows us to understand that the speaker considers there to be a very close association between herself and the blossoming lime tree—as the speaker weeps, the tree also weeps by dropping flowers. That the tree is in blossom also serves to suggest that the speaker views herself as also in full bloom, or in the prime of her life, ready for love.

"softness of a woman..."   (Patterns)

The speaker indicates a difference between her soft body and the the stiff gown that contains it. The stiff gown can be read as a metaphor for the rigid social structures in which she lives. She emphasizes the disconnect between the speaker’s internal self and the external world that dictates her life.

"stain..."   (Patterns)

The verb “to stain” generally means to damage or alter the appearance of something by transferring the color of one thing onto another. It can also mean to deprive something of lustre or color. The train’s ability to “stain” the gravel suggests that it is so heavy and full of color that it could seep into the ground. This paints the dress’s excess as something dangerous that can alter the natural world and deprive it of its beauty.

"softness..."   (Patterns)

If nothing around the speaker is soft, then that means everything is hard, rigid, and, by extension, structured. This suggests that the noun “softness” indicates a lack of structure, of freedom. Since our speaker sees no softness around her, we can see how this likely represents her desire to be individual, sensual, and free from the structures that have been imposed on her and that hold her in place.

"brocaded..."   (Patterns)

A “brocade” is a type of elaborately patterned fabric that generally has raised figures and designs stitched in gold and silver. The excessive pattern of the fabric of her dress underscores the rigid patterns within this speaker’s life.

"a plate of current fashion..."   (Patterns)

The lack of a subject in this sentence suggests that the speaker herself performs this role. In that case, “a plate of current fashion” provides an intriguing metaphor for how the speaker views herself. The noun “plate” in this context could apply to a meal, and since we have a time indicator (“current”) we can understand that plates are types of trends that pass and shift over time. The speaker sees herself as following the patterns prescribed by her society by making herself serve the dictates of fashion. That she trips in the shoes suggests that this is not natural behavior for her, that such impositions from society act against her individual self.

"figured..."   (Patterns)

If something has been “figured,” it has been adorned with ornamental designs and patterns. The adverb “richly” emphasizes how intricate these designs and patterns are. Like the patterned garden, the speaker herself is also a patterned figure, moving through the various structures and patterns in her garden, and, by extension, in her life.