As far as linguistics is concerned with the study of human language. And as it is known for anyone who is specialised in the field, it is divided into branches that consist of semantics which is the study of meaning at the level of words and concepts, at the second stage comes semiotics which means the use of symbols ,images to convey meaning, and thirdly we have pragmatics where meaning is understood through the context. So our attempt in this essay is the study of Ezra Pound’s poem ‘The Garden ‘from three perspectives, semantically, semiotically and pragmatically.
“The Garden” is a free verse poem written by Ezra Pound. It was first published in 1913 in the collection “Poetry: A Magazine of Verse”, then as part of his collection “Lustra” in 1916. The poem is comprised of four stanzas.(Alexander).
When reading the poem at a first glance the reader may notice that Pound is describing a young woman who has been born into the wealth of society and has grown up isolated from it. In the first stanza the poet compares the young woman to a softy length. Then the silk is loose, much like the young woman who seem to be lost. Next, the poet refers to the woman’s mental state. “She is dying piece-meal of a sort of emotional anaemia”. So, anaemia is a condition to feel weak and tired and suggests the lack of vitality.
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In the second stanza, the poet is referring to a number of lower class children ‘rabble fifthly, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor”. Besides, the following line states that “they shall inherit the earth “which refers to the aristocratic category in Britain. Ezra Pound then makes a direct referencing to the woman’s excessive boredom when he says “her boredom is exquisite and excessive “. Thus, the poem ends with the women’s desire to speak to somebody.
In other words, Ezra Pound uses a number of literary techniques such as: symbols, simile and metaphor. At the beginning of the poem we can remark that the poet uses a SIMILE, the very first line ” like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall”, the poet here compares one of the poem’s protagonists ( the young lady ) to an exquisite material which is silk.”. The image of the silk blowing up against a wall is pregnant, somehow, with a power which only grows the more familiar the image becomes.” (Sarah, Tuesday, March 1, 2011) . Therefore, throughout the poem we learn that the woman, who is the basis of the comparison, is one of noble youth walking along a path in Kensington Gardens. Pound ends the stanza with a metaphor, this time directed at the woman’s mental state. “She is dying piece-meal, of a sort of emotional anaemia”.
In more specific term, anaemia is a condition in which red blood cells in your body are lacking, causing the sufferer to feel weak and tired. So that, in the poem the protagonist appears to feel totally tired of her position. The woman is also described as emotionally anaemic which suggests the death of the upper class. Stanza two introduces the “rabble” of the lower class. So, these three lines symbolise the dying aristocracy by the contrast to the “unkillable infants of the very poor”. For instance, the use of paradox in semiotic terms is stated in the forth stanza. Yet, the intensive desire of the lonely woman to speak to someone is morally and socially unacceptable for a woman of noble status to associate with anyone outside her own class.
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As far as the pragmatic interpretation is concerned, the poet came to evoke his hidden messages. The title itself “The Garden” may refer to the biblical belief “The Garden of Eden”. Furthermore, pound uses many words that have a hidden meaning such as” Anaemia” .This latter, suggests the death of the upper class. Moreover, in the third stanza the phrase “In her is the end of breeding” there’s a nice double meaning here. “The end of breeding” because she lacks the vitality to produce another generation, and so her class of people will die out, but also because she shows the result of elegance.
The next line states that “They shall inherit the earth”. Here, the poet is referring to the fall of aristocracy in Britain at that time, when contrasted with the increase of the lower classes. Then, “The “exquisite and excessive” boredom is that carried by generation upon generation of women who are familiar with the sound of men’s hearts shattering” (Alexander) .So, the forth stanza handle the fear of the woman and therefore the indiscretion must be committed ‘I will commit that indiscretion’.
To sum up, we may say that this poem is talking about a young woman who has been born into the wealth of society. And has grown up isolated from it. She has absolutely everything and yet she longs for something more. She is bored of being proper and feels just like a shadow. For instance, the analysis of the poem into three different perspectives (semantic, semtiotic and pragmatic) allows us to go further in order to understand a poem from different angles.
Alexander, T. (n.d.).
_Comment on Ezra Pound’s poem_. Retrieved from http://www.helium.com/items/2260126-poetry-analysis-the-garden-by-ezra-pound
Sarah, J. (Tuesday, March 1, 2011).
_Talking about poems just for the pleasure of it._
Froula, Christine. A Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems. New York Doubleday & Co., Inc.