Wednesday, February 26, 2014



My desire
is always the same; wherever Life
deposits me:
I want to stick my toe
& soon my whole body
into the water.
I want to shake out a fat broom
& sweep dried leaves
bruised blossoms
dead insects
& dust.
I want to grow
It seems impossible that desire
can sometimes transform into devotion;
but this has happened.
And that is how I've survived:
how the hole
I carefully tended
in the garden of my heart
grew a heart
to fill it.

Alice Walker


  1. The theme of this poem is no matter where you are in life be ambitious and humble yourself. I feel as though this poem jumped around a lot which keep it interesting. the way the poem was written you could actually picture some one going the all the changes as the poem changes.

    In the poem “Desire”, by Alice Walker, the speaker explains how his or her desire is consistently changing throughout their life, and eventually reaching a point where they have finally filled the space of desire in their heart. The overall message of this poem is how desire can sometimes continue to persist through an individual despite if the person has already attained their desire. The claim “I want to stick my toe and soon my whole body into the water” shows how an average individual will not be satisfied with the fulfillment of their first desire and keep on pushing further. This idea is stressed in Carson’s “Losing the Edge” when she states “change of self is loss of self”. If most people only had few desires in their life than the change in oneself would be much more minimized, but according to Walker and Carson, this is simply not the case because desire is prevalent in most societies. However, towards the conclusion of this poem the speaker states that through much “tending”, an individual, including the speaker, can fill in the space that their heart has desired.

    Similar to Carson’s main method of argument, Alice Walker’s poem incorporates the use of metaphor to more exemplify a point she tries to prove. Alice Walker describes the heart in terms of a garden that is mended by the owner and the how it is kept is based on the what the owner chooses to “grow” (or in this case how he chooses to grow). Walker poses through her well crafted metaphor how desire often leaves a hole in one’s heart which is a similar to a plant which comes and goes. In nutshell, it exemplifies the “come and go” nature of desire and how it can never truly be satisfied as Carson argues. However, the speaker of Alice Walker poem has found something which of the impossible …….. the speaker has found the final piece to fill the hole in their garden. In other words, to speak more concretely, the speaker has found devotion to fill in the gaps of one’s heart which are caused by the fickleness component of desire. More importantly, to bring things into perspective, Walker’s method of metaphor and symbolism to provide support for her opinion on desire really almost mirrors Carson’s same tactics in order to prove her arguments with her text.

    Finally, another concluding idea Walker tries to leave the reader is the contrast between desire and devotion. The speaker states how difficult it can be to transform a person’s desire into devotion. In a sense, although we haven’t designated desire as a positive or negative action, devotion manages to embody a more positive inflection regardless. If a person is unable to stop “desiring”, then another possibility is to take on a role of devotion, and simply focus on a positive, longterm goal for their life. By doing this, the speaker states that he or she “survived” and with delicate work, was able to fill in the gaps of their heart. This idea of devotion, mixed with the intricate metaphors in the poem demonstrates the impact desire has within a society and how it develops a person’s character.

    Thought Provoking Questions

    1. Is it a positive concept or a negative concept to have desire in your lifestyle, or does it always depend on the circumstances? How does Walker view “desire” in her poem?

    2. How do you differentiate between the words desire and devotion?

    3. Is there a point in time where a person will simply stop “desiring”, or is it a continuous, never-ending cycle of always wanting?


  2. The poem “Desire” by Alice Walker:

    Other Sources Displaying Examples of Desire

    This song displays the negative aspects of desire going along with our theme:

    Buddhist views over the idea of desire in society:

    Another view from Buddhism:

    Speaks about Plato’s view of desire, stating that desire is basically a lower level of thinking.