Introduction & Overview of The Forest by Susan Stewart

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 For Further Reading 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 252 words
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Poetry for Students
The Forest from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.