Imagery and symbolism in Patience, Hard Thing!

There is more imagery in the sonnet than in its companion sonnets I Wake and Feel or To Seem the Stranger.


The ivy image is particularly visual, running right through the second quatrain. The lines:

‘Natural heart's ivy, Patience masks/ Our ruins of wrecked past purpose'

are memorable in their compactness. Ivy growing over some ruined wall or building is a common sight, hiding the extent of the damage, and actually making it look very picturesque. The image is extended into the next line with the ‘eyes' or berries and ‘sea of liquid leaves'.

Other images

  • Hearts grating, as opposed to distilling honey
  • Filling ‘his crisp combs' may have borrowed a little from Keats' Ode to Autumn - patience is all but personified
  • The ‘Purple eyes' and ‘liquid leaves' of the ivy image also have a Keatsian sensuousness to them.
Investigating Patience
  • Why should the ivy be described as a ‘sea of liquid leaves'?
  • Do you see anything symbolic in the ivy?
    • Or is it just an apt natural image?
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