Themes in The Garden

Political Change from Collaboration: In the final lines of the poem, the speaker pleads with the wind to clear the heat away. This can be interpreted literally; the speaker needs respite from the heat. It can also be read metaphorically; the speaker pleads for a force to remove what is oppressing her. In this reading, the wind can be interpreted as an avenue for social and political change.

Women’s Resistance Despite Oppression: The way the speaker describes both the rose’s resilience as well as her own capabilities reveals a belief in her own strength. Therefore the rose serves as a metaphor for the strength of the speaker’s character. Seen through the lens of feminist criticism, the fact that the rose is still able to grow in the rock is telling of the strength and resilience of the speaker.

Themes Examples in The Garden:

The Garden 4

"of your path..."   (The Garden)

The poem ends with the speaker asking the wind to change her situation, to turn over the oppressive heat and free her and the fruits in the garden. While this could be a beautiful expression of the experience of summer heat, this changing wind could also be read as a metaphor for social or political change. The speaker asks for an external source to remove the oppression that prevents them from moving.

"heat..."   (The Garden)

If one interprets the rose as a representation of women, then the oppressive heat can be seen as a metaphorical representation of the patriarchal society that prevents women from achieving their potential. As the speaker claims in the previous stanza, she could “break a tree” if it were not for the heat. Metaphorically, the speaker claims that she has the strength and ability to achieve impossible feats, but she cannot break this “heat” without external help.

"rock..."   (The Garden)

H.D.’s poetry is an example of Imagism, a literary movement in the early 20th century that used sharp language to create clear images. Imagists would focus on all of the elements and details of a single object in order to capture the object’s essence. Here, the speaker describes this rose using metaphors and sharp language to reveal an unseen essence: the rose is hard, strong, and resilient even though it is perceived as delicate.

"hard..."   (The Garden)

This poem can be read as a social protest poem against female and minority oppression and a patriarchal society. In this reading, the supposedly delicate rose is actually strong enough to break stone emphasizing the power of those who are socially underestimated. In this metaphor, the speaker points out that despite their perception as delicate, “roses,” or women, are strong enough to break stone.