University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Love should grow up like a wild iris
Since the beginning of human existence love has earned a meaning of pure bliss and wild passion between two people that cannot be broken. Through out time the meaning of love has had its slight shifts but for the most part, maintains a positive value. In the poem “Love Should Grow Up Like a Wild Iris in the Fields,” the author, Susan Griffin expresses that this long lost concept of love is often concealed by the madness of everyday life and reality. In the poem, Griffin uses many literary elements to help convey the importance of true love. The usage of imagery, symbolism, and other literary techniques really help communicate Griffins’ meaning that love is not joyous and blissful as its ‘s commonly portrayed but often broken by the problems in our everyday lives.
Through out the whole entire poem, Griffin uses a metaphor comparing a wild iris to love. Just like a wild iris, love can grow into something so beautiful and flourish so quickly with no limits on stopping. In the start of the poem Griffin says, “”Love should grow up like a wild iris in the fields, unexpected, after a terrible storm, opening a purple mouth to the rain, with not a thought to the future, ignorant of the grass and the graveyard of leaves around, forgetting its own beginning”, meaning that love should grow with no domestication and no boundaries just like a wild iris after a terrible storm (1-5). By using this metaphor the reader can really understand the value that love should flourish beautifully with no worries about its surroundings just as a wild iris does in an open field. This really gives the reader a mental image to help really grasp the emotional significance of how spontaneous and wild love should be.
In the second stanza Griffin introduces the reality of love. She uses symbolism and imagery to really portray how love is often neglected by the realities of everyday life. She starts the stanza with, “Love more often is to be found in kitchens at the dinner hour, tired out and hungry,” which gives the reader a completely different feeling in comparison to the metaphor with the iris growing in the wild fields (8-9). Dinnertime is often portrayed as “time with family”, but Griffin follows that line with, “tired out and hungry” giving the reader gets a negative connotation (9). Griffin is suggesting that love is “more often” to be portrayed to be this feeling of bliss but is really over powered by the problems of everyday life such as exhaustion and hunger to name the simplest. Love is not just represented by a marriage; you must fall in love with one another and continue that feeling but often times that is forgotten due to the common roadblocks in life. In the second stanza, Griffin portrays love as “houses where the walls record movements”, while in comparison to the wild iris whose love blossoms uncontrollably which cannot even be kept in a place with confined space without overgrowing (9-10).
This could symbolize that love cannot be suffocated or have boundaries and like an iris you must let love takes its course. The author continues to compare love to a house “while the cook is probably angry, and the ingredients of the meal are budgeted, while a child cries feed me now and her mother not quite hysterical says over and over, wait just a bit”, which really gives of a sense of turmoil after reading through it (11-13). Every situation the author talks about above is everyday stressor that couples in love commonly fight about whether it’s from budget to infants. For example, normally a happy wife enjoys cooking for the family and feeding the kids. Happy and joyous feelings are usually associated with this event. Griffin explains the cook as “angry…while the child cries feed me now”, giving off a very undesirable tone which can relate to how the burn for your partners love is often overpowered by the pandemonium of peoples everyday lives. In the first stanza Griffin really uses nature to explain love, where as in stanza 2 she uses the house and all the events that happen during “dinner hour” which really expresses the negative mood and tone while reading. It was a very abrupt change in the flow because it goes from a more free-flowing and positive tone to a fast-paced tone and sense of chaos towards the end of the second stanza.
The author uses the line “Love should grow up like a wild iris in the fields” on four separate occasions from start to finish in the poem. Each time used, Griffin changes the word play following the line, which each gives its own tone to it. The first time he used the line was in the first sentence that was quickly followed with the stanza that gave of a sense of beauty while comparing love to nature. The second time Griffin uses the line she follows it with “but does not” and then compares love to dinner hour, which portrays a tone of turmoil and sadness (7). The third and fourth time Griffin uses the line they are followed by “but never does” and “but doesn’t”, both giving off a very negative tone in comparison to the first time Griffin used the phrase in the first line (15 & 30). The author goes from explaining the ideal value of love and how it’s perceived in the first stanza and as each stanza passes she begins to reveal how love really is perceived. This literary technique definitely helps portray the reader grasp the meaning of the illusion of the ideal love versus reality.
In the final stanza, Griffins symbol of the wild iris takes on a whole new meaning as the “iris” of an eye. In relationship to the function of an eye, the iris of an eye can be a symbolic meaning that love is going to be perceived differently through every ones own view. A couple must be able to adjust with everyday misfortune that arises just as an iris of an eye does when it becomes too bright and needs to adjust to the sunlight. An effective technique Griffin used to contribute to the meaning of the poem is when she left the words “love should” on its own line near the end of the poem so it really catches the reader’s eye (29). In doing so, it gives the reader a visual almost as if the sentence is incomplete and the one reading should fill in what they think love should be. This directly relates back to the symbolism for the iris, which represents how all humans will perceive love differently through their point of view.
The society has always shaped the meaning of love as something so perfect and flawless that all must go through in there lifetime. Is there one universal definition for “true love”? Susan Griffins writing style plays a large factor in portraying the ideal meaning of love versus the truth behind love. Her use of metaphors to describe love is really effective, giving the reader a vivid image whether it was love flourishing wildly in the open or just confined in the walls of a house hidden by all the stress and everyday burdens of life. Love is in the eyes of the beholder. What do you
think love should be?