blogA Work of Artifice

The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning.
But a gardener
carefully pruned it.
It is nine inches high.
Every day as he
whittles back the branches
the gardener croons,
It is your nature
to be small and cozy,
domestic and weak;
how lucky, little tree,
to have a pot to grow in.
With living creatures
one must begin very early
to dwarf their growth:
the bound feet,
the crippled brain,
the hair in curlers,
the hands you
love to touch.

Marge Piercy

In English class, we’ve been looking over this specific poem, about a bonsai tree that is contained and controlled to fit a certain role. But really, when we talk about the bonsai tree, we’re talking about two different subjects, (1) females, all types of girls are the bonsai tree and (2) humans are the bonsai tree.

So while we were discussing this poem, I was also analyzing it myself and saw that to me, the bonsai tree is you. And when I say ‘you’ I don’t me just you, the reader, but also me, and everybody else. And the gardener is the people in your life that shape you (and here, I’m saying in a negative way) into the person you are today. And then, we discussed the gardener, the class agreed that the gardener was our society, molding the people in it to a certain size and shape.

How I interpret this poem is that you (AKA me, you, we, her, him, and them) are the bonsai tree and we’re born into this world completely wild and free and as we grow, the opinions and actions of the people we interact with cripple and restrict us into what our society wants us to be. And from the point of view that society is the gardener, then society is crippling us. but the thing is we are our society, so wouldn’t that make us cripple and shape ourselves into what we want? Yet we have so many distorted versions of what we think we want. What I mean is, if we, as a whole, are the gardener, shaping ourselves, individually into what we want to be, why can’t we accept ourselves the way we are, as “80 feet tall”?

So why is it that there’s so much talk in this world of acceptance of the ‘real’ you, yet it’s so hard for us to accept ourselves the way we are or the way others are naturally? And I hate to say it, but I’m guilty of this, I’ve done a few things to myself to make society accept me (or things that I think will help me become accepted). Of course there’s a difference between growing and changing and learning to make yourself a better person and just not being satisfied ever with yourself, but why can’t the majority of us accept ourselves, flaws and all, and then choose to try and make ourselves better? I feel like our society has become so superficial and corrupt in the way we think and what we find acceptable. And I feel like a lot of other people think this too, but yet we don’t change that about our society.

So my question is, how do we learn to accept ourselves the way we are, without all the restrictions that we and our society put on us? And my second question is, does any of this make any sense to anybody besides myself? Because it’s very late and I wouldn’t know.

– Thoughts of a very sleepy lindsay