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Metaphor in Porphyria's Lover

Metaphor Examples in Porphyria's Lover:

Porphyria's Lover

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"As a shut bud that holds a bee,..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

Bees and flower buds have a mutually beneficial relationship: bees land on flowers to drink their nectar, collect pollen on their feet, and then spread that pollen to fertilize other flowers. A bud that would shut and trap a bee would forsake this relationship. Therefore, a shut bud might slowly open, or nervously open to make sure the bee was actually dead; if it were not, the bee might attack the bud. In using this metaphor, the speaker compares the manner in which he opens his murdered lover’s eyes to a bud opening after it had betrayed a bee. However, the speaker might be so careful not because he is worried about Porphyria attacking him, but because he is worried about what he will find in her eyes; perhaps a look of shock or anger over his betrayal, or the disfiguration that occurs when someone is strangled.

"pale..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

Notice that paleness speaks back to the title of the poem and the woman’s name as well. Those infected with Porphyria are pale. This would suggest that the speaker is pale “for love of her,” and in this sense the woman has infected him with this lovesick disease. This reading makes her the predator in this relationship. However, pale skin is also a typical sign of an unsatiated mythological vampire, which would suggest that the speaker’s love has turned him into a predator with his desire for her.

"Made my heart swell, and still it grew..."   (Porphyria's Lover)

The image of the speaker’s heart swelling and growing may be a veiled metaphor for his sexual arousal. While the use of “heart” suggests a rising feeling of love, the scene carries carnal connotations, particularly in the previous mentions of “passion” and “feast.” The speaker’s next choice of action underscores the thematic connection between violence and sexual desire, both expressions of power.

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