Ezra Weston Loomis Pound, the great expatriate American poet and critic, used his iconic Imagism to write the poem ‘A girl’ where he used the mythical characters of Apollo and Daphne to showcase the creative imaginations of a girl from two different perspectives; an older child and an adult, where the girl transforms herself into a tree.
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BY EZRA POUND
The tree has entered my hands,
The sap has ascended my arms,
The tree has grown in my breast-
The branches grow out of me, like arms.
Tree you are,
Moss you are,
You are violets with wind above them.
A child – so high – you are,
And all this is folly to the world.
Analysis of Pound’s “A Girl”
In the poem ‘A girl’, Ezra Pound used two mythical characters as the leading flow of the poem. The first one was the myth of Apollo, the Sun God, and the second was Daphne, a nymph. When it comes to Apollo, the Sun God, there is a traditional myth that he insulted Eros (or Cupid, which is his Roman name) saying that he was unworthy of his (Eros) bow and arrow which were warlike. In anger, Eros threw two arrows, each separately for Apollo and Daphne, the nymph.
The poet has emphasized on Eros’s emotions behind his actions, in throwing two separate arrows at both of them. An arrow that would make Apollo fall in love with Daphne while an arrow of hatred that would make Daphne loath Apollo, making Apollo suffer. While this story has a strong mythological perspective, and a clear intention by Pound to deliver a specific message to the poem, there are many contemporary interpretations.
There might be a chance that the first narrator is an older child detailing her transformation into a tree in a figurative way, letting her imaginations run wild in the process. On the other hand, the second stanza can be understood from the perspective of an adult, who feels that she should escape into the reverie, reminding the girl that even if the world thinks of her figurative transformation and more importantly her rampant imaginations as “folly”, she shouldn’t let anything dampen her creative side of imagination.
The poet uses “A child—so high—you are/and this is folly to the world” to portray Apollo’s anguish following Daphne’s transformation into a tree just to express the loathing that she possessed for Apollo. The poem opens a vast space for the readers to use their creative perspective to understand the tone of the story and see the poem from different, and versatile angles.