The poet utilizes examples of personification in ‘Flower On the Road‘ to speak about equality, diversity, and happiness. While the poem appears to be about two flowers discussing spring, more importantly, it discusses the importance of treating all life equally, no matter what size or seeming importance.
Explore Flower on the Road
‘Flower On the Road’ by Chitra Padmanabhan is a thoughtful poem that utilizes two personified flowers to speak about joy and diversity.
In the first lines of this piece, the first speaker, a bougainvillea plant, begins by describing how spring has come and it is growing along the road. It knows it is bringing joy to all those who pass by.
In the second half of the poem, a little flower pipes up, making sure it is heard over the seemingly more important beauty of the bougainvillea. The flower notes that, despite its tiny stature, is bringing joy to the world as well.
You can read the full poem here.
Structure and Form
‘Flower On the Road’ by Chitra Padmanabhan is a twenty-line poem that is contained within a single stanza of text. The poem is written in free verse. This means that the poet did not use a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. Despite this, readers will likely notice some examples of half-rhyme, assonance, and consonance in this piece.
This is a children’s poem. Even without this prior knowledge, the poet’s use of very short lines, simple words, and very easy-to-understand themes make it clear that this piece was written for a young reader.
Throughout this poem, the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Enjambment: can be seen when the poet cuts off a line before its natural stopping point. For example, the transition between lines two and three as well as four and five.
- Caesura: can be seen when the poet inserts a pause into the middle of a line. This can be accomplished through the use of punctuation or through a natural pause in a line. For example: “Wait, said the.”
- Personification: occurs when the poet imbues something nonhuman with human characteristics or abilities. In this case, the poet gives the flowers the ability to speak.
- Alliteration: occurs when the poet repeats the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, “Crimson” and “cream” in line three.
Spring has come,
on the edge of the kerb
In the poem’s first lines, the speaker begins by utilizing personification. This occurs when the poet imbues something nonhuman, like a flower or an animal, with the ability to do strictly human things. For example, a flower that can speak or an animal that can dance.
The first example of personification occurs when the “bougainvillea” speaks. This is a type of ornamental vine and part of the 4 o’clock family. It is native to eastern South America (from Brazil to Peru).
The flower tells the listener that “spring has come.” The flower notes that it is blooming in various colors and that it “bring[s] happiness / to all.” It is clear from these lines that the flower has one desire – to bring joy to the world through its beauty and form.
The poem goes on, bringing in the words of another “Little flower.” This flower is located on the “edge of the kerb” (read: “curb”). It uses the word “wait,” suggesting that it has something else to add to the discussion of spring. It doesn’t want to, despite its size, be passed over.
I, too, blossom
on the road!
The second flower, which is smaller than the bougainvillea, says that it too blossoms, even though it is small. The flower tries to describe the joy it brings to the world through a brief story. It describes how every now and then, a little child walks past and sees how the specific flower grows to her height. The young child can relate to this flower in a way that she cannot relate to the large blossoming swath of bougainvillea. The little flower makes the child smile, something that brings the flower joy and should add to the overall happiness of the season.
The poem ends with a rhetorical question that takes the form of an exclamation. The flower asks the bougainvillea if the joy they bring the child doesn’t make them “comrades / on the road.” Both flowers, despite their differences, make the world a happier place.
The main theme of this poem is happiness. This is followed by other themes like diversity. The little flower who speaks in the second half of the poem may not be as grand and wide-reaching as the bougainvillea is, but they are still capable of creating joy on a smaller scale.
The purpose of this poem is to define the variety of ways that joy can come into the world. It does not always need to take the grand, sweeping form of the bougainvillea. In some instances, it can be simpler, like the single small flower that only grows to the height of a young child.
There are two speakers in this poem. The first is a bougainvillea plant or a type of flowering vine. The second is a “little flower.” The poet does not reveal what species of flower the second speaker is. While this may take away from the reader’s ability to envision the two types of flowers speaking, it does not take away from the overall importance of the poem.
The meaning of this poem is that no matter one size, age, or appearance, they are equally capable of bringing joy into the world. No one should be looked down on or ignored just because they are smaller.
Readers who enjoyed this piece should also consider reading some related poems. For example:
- ‘May-Flower’ by Emily Dickinson – a short and direct poem that’s only twelve lines long. She depicts a flower through these short, punchy, and effective lines.
- ‘To an Early Daffodil’ by Amy Lowell – beautifully depict the daffodil in its environment. The speaker describes its green shoots that take in the rain from “sweeping showers.”
- ‘Spring’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins – describes the joys of spring against a backdrop of religious references to the Garden of Eden and sin.
Readers might also be interested in exploring 9 of the Most Beautiful Poems About Flowers.