Despite the numerous developments in technology and science that have contributed in the human’s favor serving the purpose of facilitating our life and in discovering places past the milky way striving to perceive our identity and to satisfy our hearts with knowledge of the unknown; Carol Ann Duffy certifies that man is nevertheless imprisoned in this prison called life.
An apple’s soft thump on the grass, somewhen
in this place. What was it? Beauty of Bath.
What was it? Yellow, vermillion, round, big, splendid;
already escaping the edge of itself,
like the mantra of bees,
like the notes of rosemary, tarragon, thyme.
Poppies scumble their colour onto the air,
now and there, here, then and again.
the heart’s impulse to cherish; thus,
a woman petalling paint onto a plate –
cornflower blue –
as the years pressed out her own violet ghost;
that slow brush of vanishing cloud on the sky.
And the dragonfly’s talent for turquoise.
And the goldfish art of the pond.
And the open windows calling the garden in.
This bowl, life, that we fill and fill.
The poem begins with a soft image of an apple falling, providing the reader a first-hand experience in an orchard. The poet then continues to specify his details of the apple combining visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile images ” Yellow, vermillion, round, big, splendid”. All these images contribute to the reader with a more realistic and ecstatic experience. ” already escaping the edge of itself “; the apple is observed to be in its full ripe state that it gives us the image that were the apple to be on the tree for any longer, it would burst out of itself, and therefore it was the perfect moment for the “apple’s soft thump on the grass”.
The poet than compares this fully ripe apple that is almost about to burst with “mantra of bees”, an auditory image, coupled with “notes of rosemary, tarragon, thyme./ Poppies scumble their colour onto the air” all of which facilitates us with a realistic view of an orchard and the poet further uses these images to articulate the beauty of nature and its many wonders time and time immemorial for she uses “now and there, here, then and again” to depict the constant unchanging and perpetuate beauty of nature. The poet cries; “Alive-alive-oh” suggesting the ecstasy and joy she feels in observing the orchard and the “heart’s impulse to cherish ” suggesting that she feels alive and heartily cherished also implying the fact that she might have not being so alive and fresh or joyful until now. This indication provides us with the past of the poet and hints at what might follow in the succeeding stanzas.
She then bears a personal tone, ” a woman petalling paint onto a plate” in which the “woman” could possibly signify the poet herself and “petalling” is indeed a combined word that generally gives the image of a woman painting in the orchard. As much as the poet celebrates nature and share its joy, she also uses imagery to indicate a bleak, darker meaning. “years pressed out her own violet ghost” carries a far more personal note with violet possibly indicating the time of day being dusk and thereby this visual imagery of the violet sky at dusk is synonymous with the woman who has now grown old as she is swept away in this tide of time. This imagery is further affirmed through the next line where she is now feeble and old and therefore her brush paints very slowly on the paper and her old age is probably signified through the “vanishing cloud” indicating separation, distanced and drawing to an end.
There is once again a shift of tones in the latter part from that of a melancholic to a more realistic tone through the imagery of nature. The poem in last line; “”the bowl, life, that we fill and fill” is a metaphor for life that enlightens its readers with the true realization of reality. She compares our life that is adorned by numerous facilities, people and joy to a fish bowl; imprisoned and no escape.
The poet discloses us the reality of life, that regardless of the many things we strive to achieve; “fill and fill”, we are all confined and restricted, imprisoned by the society in many ways such as traditions, rules, regulations, procedures, customs, culture and even people and from which, escape is inevitable. This as opposed to the beauty of nature and the joy it gives, is the bitter truth of life and thereby realizing this reality of life, the poet seem to indulge herself in the wonders of nature.