Musings of an Oak
How can it be that ones so small,
and briefly blooming in the mind of loam
can rise with will, and climb, not fall
beyond their roots, eyes full, to roam
with those still few who came before,
paths of the soul most rarely seen
through silent wood and crashing shore.
To further truths.
And then return with deeper eyes
to stand where their first steps were tred
amidst grey walls beneath my boughs
I see again their verdant blooms
with richer tones, and sharper edges.
In my poem Musings of an Oak, there are many literary elements that give insight into the meaning of the poem. One of the first aspects of the poem that allow for a deeper reading is the structural elements of the poem. Musings of an Oak begins with the form of an English sonnet but at line eight the poem shifts into free verse. In this poem this change of structure serves to show the observed transition point in the maturation of the students from wide eye innocence to a deeper wisdom. Another structural facet that facilitates a deeper reading is the use of distinctly shorter lines. Lines eight and fourteen are both distinctly shorter than the other lines of the poem, emphasizing their importance to the larger poetic meaning. In this case it shows the importance of the students’ journeys to find truth and deeper wisdom while also highlighting the overall theme of growth in the work itself. Though the structural elements together give a better understanding of the meaning of the work as a whole, other literary devices are essential in understanding Musings of an Oak.
In addition to structural elements extended metaphor was used to add a deeper meaning to Musings of an Oak. Throughout the poem the students that the narrator sees are compared to blooming flowers. This gave comparison gave a different impression of the students than what otherwise could have been achieved. This metaphor gave to the students observed a sense of fleeting vibrancy, of a brief period of time experienced to the fullest. This idea is what I believe encapsulates the college experience, especially when narrator describing the students lives for hundreds of years. The idea of the students being blooming flowers also ties into the poem’s overarching theme of growth and development as plants are one of the most poignant literary symbols of growth. This idea of growth as a theme of the work is reinforced by the diction of the poem itself.
The diction in Musings of an Oak is also crucial to the understanding of the poem. Many of the words used in the poem are purposefully botanic, evoking the thoughts and images of growth and maturation that are essential to an understanding of this poem. The use of these words also serves to reinforce the fact that the narrator of the poem is itself a plant, and as such it uses these words because they fall within its paradigm. For the narrator that is the only way it can explain what it is witnessing through terms that it understands.