The Root

The Root

by Helen Hoyt

Love faded in my heart—
I thought it was dead.
Now new flowers start,
Fresh leaves outspread.
Why do these flowers upstart
And again the leaves spread?
Oh, when will it be dead—
This root that tears my heart!

Literary Analysis

“The Root” is a love poem. The theme and the figurative meaning of the poem is the re-emergence of dead love or the rousing of feelings for lost love. The title is also conveying the idea that although love is lost and it feels that it no longer exists in the lover’s heart, the roots of that love are still present.

The tone of the poem is melancholic and discontented. The speaker (who may or may not be the poetess) is a dejected lover, probably she is talking about her lost love and in the end asking why this love is reappearing in her heart. Thus, the mood or tone is amplifies the main idea of this poem.

The lone speaker seems to be addressing her point to someone in particular and trying to make a point by raising questions in the end. The poem begins as the speaker tells about her lost love which she might have forgotten and considered dead “Love faded in my heart—/ I thought it was dead.” She thought that she had reconciled with the circumstances. However, she again starts feeling the same emotions and attraction to her former lover. This is evident in the following lines: “Now new flowers start,/ Fresh leaves outspread.”

Hoyt used metaphors to indirectly compare the rebirth of the speaker’s dead love to “new flowers” and “Fresh leaves”. This means that the old lost love is rising again in her life as a fresh perspective and brings in new air. When she had lost all hope and positivity in love and felt dejected, love knocks at her door with new rays of light and hope.

She asks why it is happening again as “Why do these flowers upstart/ And again the leaves spread?” She says this because she is afraid that she might again undergo the similar experience, which tortured her in the past. She is not willing to face that teasing and hurting experience again.

She is confused as to why she is having feelings for that troublesome love that has given her nothing but disappointment. Then she desires that this love come to an end “Oh, when will it be dead—/ This root that tears my heart!” since the root of this love is still there in the form of memories, but at some point she starts feeling the same passionate love for her loved one who had left her.

Structural Analysis

The poem is a lyric poem, which contains two stanzas only. The metrical pattern is spondaic (a spondee has two adjacent stressed syllables) “Love faded in my heart—/ I thought it was dead.” The poem has a regular rhyme scheme with this pattern, ABAB:

    Love faded in my heart— A
    I thought it was dead. B
    Now new flowers start, A
    Fresh leaves outspread. B

There is no internal rhyme. However, enjambment is used in line 6, where an idea runs into the next line “Why do these flowers upstart/ And again the leaves spread?” The diction in this poem is simple, clear and in understandable figurative language.

There is no notable alliteration and assonance and repetition. Therefore, it lacks rhythm. On the other hand, hypotaxis is present in the entire text of this poem, as the main clause is about love and flowers that represents new love and its foundation in heart. Hence, this idea runs in the remaining lines as “Why do these flowers upstart /And again the leaves spread? /Oh, when will it be dead— /This root that tears my heart!” This poetic device helps in expressing the individual thoughts through the use of subordinate clauses, and amplify a central idea, providing a great deal of information about love.

Guidance for Usage of Quotes

This is a poem written by a dejected and disappointed lover who has lost her/his faith in love, who does not want to fall in love again because the previous love has hurt her/him a lot. Therefore, its verses can be used as quotes by dejected and depressed lovers to their beloveds on some special occasions in order to make them realize that they still love their beloveds, although, they have hurt them badly, even then they have new and fresh feelings:


    “Love faded in my heart—
    I thought it was dead.
    Now new flowers start,
    Fresh leaves outspread.”