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Critical Analysis of Amy Lowell's "Patterns"

Critical Analysis of Amy Lowell's "Patterns"

Breaking the "Patterned" Mold

When one hears the words, " I sink on a seat in the shade," they will most likely form a visual image in their head, such as a person sitting under a tree. Amy Lowell, an imagist, uses sharp images, precise wording, and figurative speech as a means of poetic expression to arouse the senses of the reader. In "Patterns," Amy Lowell explores the hopeful liberty of women in the early 20th century through a central theme. A woman’s dream of escaping the boundaries that society has placed on her dissipates when she learns of her lover’s untimely death. Of the many images in this poem, the constant motions of the flowers and water drops, the dress the woman is wearing, and her daydreams of her lover are most crucial in developing this theme of freedom.

In the beginning of the poem, as well as throughout the work, the speaker describes daffodils and other types of flowers moving freely in the wind. Using imagery to appeal to the reader’s sense of sight, these flowers are given motion, and they are described as, "…blowing," and "Flutter[ing] in the breeze,". This creates a sense of freedom and flexibility. The woman in the poem, presumably Amy, wishes to be like the moving flowers, carefree and jaunty. In the second stanza of the poem, the woman begins to describe the water in the marble fountain. The, "…plashing of water drops," and, "…plopping of the water drops," describe liquid in motion. The fact that she notices such little details in a fountain shows how intent the woman is on being free and able to move about as she pleases. The unconstrained movement of the flowers and the water manifest a way of life that the woman would like to live. What is keeping her from the liberation that she longs for?

The images in the poem name the binding dress as the culprit, but upon reading deeper into the signs of the imagery, one will find that there is a more complicated reason for her misery. The "…stiff, brocaded gown" is mentioned many times throughout the poem. Of course, back in that time, the woman was not only in a rigid, uncomfortable dress in the heat of summer, but she was also most likely wearing a corset. The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary gives the definition of brocaded as,...

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