Discuss why Hughes’ poem is short, but very effective in its brevity. | Online Homework Aiders

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In her poem, “Patterns,” Amy Lowell writes about a young woman excited to be engaged to an Army officer, only to receive a letter telling her that her fiancé has been killed in battle. The poem’s title becomes a key element in interpreting this woman’s feelings upon hearing this tragic news. The poem is set just after she has received this letter as she holds it to her chest and walks through the elaborate garden on her property. The garden is arranged in shapes and mazes, all that form a pattern in the ways the rows of flowers and shrubs have been planted. As she walks through the garden’s patterned pathways, the young woman realizes that her life has been a kind of pattern itself, full of actions and outcomes that were expected of her. Born into obvious wealth, there were expectations that a young woman of her position were expected to follow. The narrator says,

I walk down the patterned garden paths

In my stiff, brocaded gown.

With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,

I too am a rare

Pattern. As I wander down

The garden paths. (Lines 4-9)

Thompson 2

The narrator seems to feel that her life has been somewhat preordained by the position and status into which she was born. The setting for “Patterns” appears to be the eighteenth or nineteenth century, as the woman’s attire consists of a long formal brocade gown during the daytime, and her hair is described as powdered, a fashionable practice for that time in history. She speaks of her life and how the patterns of simply being rich young woman with society’s expectations would have changed and how she would have been taken away from her oppressive life when she got married. She says,

In a month he would have been my husband.

In a month, here, underneath this lime,

We would have broke the pattern;

He for me, and I for him,

He as Colonel, I as Lady,

On this shady seat. (Lines 48-53)

But, as the events in the poem indicate, this will never happen. She will never marry her Colonel and move away from the trappings of the luxurious estate; they will never “have broke the pattern” (Line 50). He will never be able to take her away, because the war has taken him from her, as she has just discovered in the letter she carries with her as she strolls through the garden. The pattern will remain in her life until someone else can free her.

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