Walking on "Patterns"

Essay by Chicherina February 2005

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In "Patterns" by Amy Lowell the speaker's attitude shifts from being sensual and accepting to being angry and frustrated. Narrator notes how she walks up and down the patterned garden- paths after time and after time following the same arrangement. The developing anger and frustration over the course of the poem towards patterns that cannot be broken is relative to the theme; patterns are an omnipresent element of life that, as the narrator experienced it, become very limiting and separating from real happiness and love.

The tone of the poem is not consistent, and alters as the poem progresses. In the beginning of the poemnarrator depicts paths to be gorgeous, and rare, just as she, and that within a pattern, she is extraordinary. It is all careful and planned, and it will promise same fine flowers every time. But then as she reaches the lime tree she is reminded of something that still hurts her heart, and what makes her angry and upset, the fact that those safe and secure patterns can also destroy one's dreams, and passion, which doesn't leave the narrator, is aroused by the unjustness.

By choosing the words such as "patterns," "arrayed," "never stops," "up and down," and also such as "stiff," "brocade," "guarded" all convey a restrained tone. The attitude towards what seems to be an arranged ordered kind of life that thus results in stiffness, brocade, and so on, is not uncontrolled at first. The narrator called these arranged patterns beautiful flowers blossoming and trees tall and green and sun brightly shining. The tone shift is seen when narrator mentions a struggle between passion and stiff brocade. It sets her going in the new direction more guided by heart than by sense, just as she turns to the memories of the times...