Explore From the Garden
Summary of From the Garden
The poem takes the reader through the speaker’s need to separate her “beloved” from their words and thoughts. She encourages this person to come with her to the garden to see the lilies, the view, and quiet their words. They need quiet time and a few moments to contemplate one another and life itself.
You can read the full poem here.
Structure of From the Garden
‘From the Garden’ by Anne Sexton is an eighteen line poem that is contained within a single stanza of text. The lines do not follow a specific rhyme scheme, nor do they conform to a metrical pattern. But, there are examples of half-rhyme at the ends of, and within the lines, of ‘From the Garden’.
Half-rhyme, also known as slant or partial rhyme, is seen through the repetition of assonance or consonance. This means that either a vowel or consonant sound is reused within one line, or multiple lines of verse. For instance, “yachts” and “clocks” in lines eight and ten and “me” and “lilies” in lines five and six.
Poetic Techniques in From the Garden
Sexton makes use of several poetic techniques in ‘From the Garden’. These include alliteration, anaphora, enjambment, and caesura. The first, alliteration, occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. For example, “slowly steering” in line nine and “Come” in lines seventeen and eighteen. This is also a great example of repetition, and how emphasis through repetition can be created.
Sexton also makes use of anaphora, or the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of multiple lines, usually in succession.For instance, “We,” which begins lines one and two, as well as “Come” that starts lines seventeen and eighteen.
Caesura occurs when a line is split in half, sometimes with punctuation, sometimes not. The use of punctuation in these moments creates a very intentional pause in the text. A reader should consider how the pause influences the rhythm of one’s reading and how it might proceed an important turn or transition in the text. There is a great example in line fifteen. It reads: “and your bad words. Spit out”.
Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. There are examples throughout ‘From the Garden’. For instance, the transitions between lines five and six and twelve and thirteen.
Analysis of From the Garden
In the first lines of ‘From the Garden’ the speaker begins by addressing her “beloved”. This person is distracted, consumed by their own thoughts, words and intentions. It is her intention to pull them out of that space and into her own. She wants them to come to her, and go with her to consider “the lilies”.
The garden will be their place of respite from too “little faith” and talking “too much”. They need some time to be together quietly and relearn one another.
She makes a point to tell this person that they are overthinking, over-speaking, and spending too much time focused outwardly. They need time for quiet contemplation. So, she concludes, they should come with her to “watch / the lilies open in such a field”.
In the next lines of ‘From the Garden’, the speaker describes what they’re going to see when they get to the field/garden. There are lilies “growing there like yachts”. This is an interesting simile as alludes to something grand. It also speaks to the starkness of the lilies against their field, just as a yacht appears against the blues of the water.
The simile is expanded and made even more meaningful in the next lines. She speaks of how they direct themselves. They don’t have “nurses or clocks” to tell them what to do or when to do it. Instead, they exist as themselves and in control of themselves, again, like a yacht.
Sexton reuses the word “consider” in the next lines, alluding to the quiet contemplation she is looking for. The “view” should be of interest to them as well. From the garden, they can see “a house where white clouds / decorate the muddy halls”. This is a larger metaphor for life itself and the mix of good and bad, peace and strife.
In the last lines of ‘From the Garden,’ the speaker concludes the poem by telling her listener to again put away their words. They don’t need “good words” or “bad words”. The two need to cast these words out “like stones”. They can be thrown into the distance, away from their life together and their relationship. The “stone” in these lines is transformed into the pit of a fruit in the final two.
She asks this person to come and “eat [her] pleasant fruits”. Eat, she demands them, after spitting out the stone at the centre. Then, there will be nothing but pleasure left for them to enjoy together. The repetition of “Come here” in the second to last line brings in some stronger emotions that weren’t present in the first lines. There is passion in her words that is reflected in the sexually loaded phrase “pleasant fruits”.