U4 AP Q1 in-class essay

In the poem “Plants”, Olive Senior takes on the persona of a speaker that seems to know a greater truth and reveals the nefarious deeds of plants that happen right under our noses. However, this is simply a literary vessel to underscore the complexity of plants that most don’t realise.

Senior’s choice of diction within the first sentence sets the tone of the poem. The uncommon connection between the words plants and deceiving hooks the reader in. Normally a plant might have descriptors such as green, large, or beautiful. However, in this instance the author chooses to personify plants, giving it a human-like characteristic, something which will become a theme within this poem. Furthermore, with these initial three words, Senior embeds the idea that there is more to plants than we the reader knows.

Throughout the poem, Senior utilises a series of literary devices to overly emphasize and dramatize the existence of plants. Firstly, the structure creates these mini cliffhangers into epic reveals. This is achieved primarily through the use of enjambment. For example, “we must infer/a sinister” cuts off at infer. The reader likely questions what is next to come. What must we infer? Then the narrator hits us with his answer. Similar structuring is found in almost every line. This repeated use nears the point of ridiculousness, perhaps to say that the narrator’s words on not to be taken completely seriously.

The narrator uses a vast assortment of dramatic warfare diction to impart to the reader what is otherwise simply plant biology in a fantastical manner. By painting these wild images, she effectively grabs the reader’s attention and directs it toward the underlying facts. His description of a mangrove tree is a prime example. She writes, “armies of mangrove/on the march”. Mangrove trees are uniquely known for the way they display their roots above water. As such, though she is personifying the plant, it is a befitting descriptor. The narrator continues this technique to talk about seedlings, burrs, and flowers, things readers likely take for granted, and unveils compelling information about them.

Ultimately, what I believe the narrator aimed to do through his dramatization of plant life, was to plants (no pun intended) an appreciation for the intricacies of plant life we typically look over. Olive Senior creates absurd depictions of plants to activate the imagination of the reader. Through this the reader gleams some of the truths of plants in her narrative and perhaps comes value the flowers on their windowsill as more than just a pretty thing.

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