By personifying nature, Lorde establishes that nature’s indifference to human presence thus makes it immune to human cultural maladies like racism. From the beginning of the poem, the narrator describes natural elements as “hid[ing] a longing or confession,” thus marking it as a safe refuge where she can trust her secrets (Lorde line 2). Similarly, describing how “tree mosses point the way home” describe nature as a guide to home, a place of serenity, safety, and comfort (Lorde line 5). This personification all works to convey that nature provides an escape for the narrator, contrasting with the harshness attributed to human racism later on in the poem.
The most significant aspect of personification, however, lies where she describes “sneeze-weed and ox-eye daisies/not caring I am a stranger/making a living choice.” (lines 10-11) By personifying nature as “not caring,” Lorde acknowledges that nature is apathetic to human presence and existence, existing apart from them (Lorde line 10). This quality of apathy to humans is what allows nature to exist outside of human racism and other harmful human cultural institutions; nature cares little about humans, and thus cares little to discriminate amongst them or fall prey to human notions. Furthermore, the narrator only experiences racism when humans are mentioned in the poem, supporting this notion. But while nature cannot act onto humans, since it is apathetic to their existence, Lorde argues that humans can act onto nature, since...
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...oem, one very similar to what Lorde had written in the first two stanzas. The mention of the “one” Vermont poem is especially significant, as it implies that all of their poems are essentially the same, suggesting a uniformity of experiences among travelers, that the vast majority of travelers experience the same tranquility. Yet, the speaker’s experiences with nature are uniquely different, as her experience is tainted by racism that is inescapable even in the beauty of Vermont nature. Thus, because of her position in society, she isn’t allowed the same access to nature as every other traveler, making it impossible for her to write that “one Vermont poem” while still staying true to her experiences.
Lorde uses personification, imagery, and her title to juxtapose humans and nature, exploring how racism denies marginalized people of access to the tranquility of nature.
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