To Paint A Water Lily

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In “To Paint a Water Lily” by Ted Hughes, the speaker describes the challenges an artist must face in depicting an image’s complex and real meaning. Although the subject of the painting is a water lily, the speaker spends most of the poem describing the scene around the lily. The duality of nature is explored, as the calmness of the pond and the water lily is juxtaposed by the “death cries” and “”battle-shouts” that occur next to the plant (10, 9). The water lily is not to be viewed as just a lily, but as one piece of the activity that occurs beside it. The speaker describes the scene as “a green level of lily leaves/Roofs the pond’s chamber and paves the flies’ furious arena,” because he views the water lily as a shelter for the actions that occur beneath it and a ground for activity that occurs above it (1-3). Furthermore, by claiming it possesses “two minds,” nature is described as a coexistent entity that has multiple layers that unfold its true meaning (4). The use of visual imagery and alliteration while describing the lily’s leaves and petals reflects a viewer’s appreciation of the lily’s beauty--the most prominent feature that can be seen by the painting’s observer.…show more content…
He focuses on an insignificant fly, but describes its movement as “stand[ing] in space to take aim” or “bullet[ing] by; similarly, other creatures are buzzing with activity, as the “battle-shouts” and “death-cries” pierce the air (3, 6, 9-10). The use of auditory imagery is indicative of the speaker’s view that nature is a complete sensory experience, not just a visual one. Although these noises are unnoticed by the casual viewer, it is the artist's job to portray the scene as if it is unfolding right in front of him--death-cries and

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