Introduction & Overview of The Forest

Susan Stewart
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The Forest Summary & Study Guide Description

The Forest Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on The Forest by Susan Stewart.

"The Forest" is the first poem in the collection The Forest (1995) by American poet Susan Stewart; it is her fourth book of poems. The premise of "The Forest" is that there are no longer any forests in the world, but the forest itself is also a metaphor (the use of one object or idea in place of another to suggest a likeness between the two) for the loss of the human connection to nature, which the speaker of the poem tries to recover by remembering what a forest is like.

Like much of Stewart's poetry, "The Forest" presents a challenge to the reader. The poem is intricately structured, with a pattern of repeated lines, like recurring images in a dream. It travels back and forth between the conscious and the unconscious mind; it does not present a straightforward, linear narrative. Its meaning cannot be fully grasped at first reading but must be teased out through repeated encounters with the poem. Stewart writes for an active rather than a passive reader, a reader who must make the effort to delve deeply into the poem to discern the poet's intent and meaning.

In her choice of a forest as her central metaphor, Stewart touches a deep vein in the Western cultural imagination, since forests have over the ages carried a range of associations in society and literature. The poem also has startling contemporary relevance, since, due to the ever-increasing demands of the global economy, the world's forests are vanishing at an alarming rate.

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This section contains 253 words
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The Forest from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.