What is the impact of beginning the poem with a question in “The Heart of the Tree” by Henry Cuyler Bunner? What is the figure of speech used here?
When the poet begins the poem with a question, as an immediate effect it leaves the readers pondering on what might be the answer. It makes us curious to know the perspective from which the poet sees it.
In our present poem, ‘The Heart of the Tree’, the question ‘What does he do who plants a tree?’ is rather simple and common. We all know that the man who plants a tree also helps other people and animals live on earth. But we get interested to find out something new that the poet might bring to the regular argument. And Bunner does so by arguing that the man ‘plants a friend of the sun and sky’, ‘plants a flag of breezes free’ and so on. This new perspective of thought is what we are amazed at. And the poet is successful in doing so by opening the poem with a question.
The figure of speech used here is rhetorical question. For all figures of speech used here please visit this link: Figure of Speech / Poetic Devices in the poem ‘The Heart of the Tree’?
The poet starts the stanza with a question because the poet wants to make the reader curious to know about the things the planter does while planting a tree. He compels the reader to stop and think about the act of planting trees seriously.
The poet starts each stanza in the poem with a question because the poet wants to make the readers curious and is trying to develop suspense among the readers. He is trying to awaken the readers and is compelling them to stop and think over the way of afforestation which is the only way to keep our mother earth healthy.
The poet begins each stanza with the question, “What does he plant who plants a tree?” The answer given each time delineates the importance of trees in different spheres of human life. This repetition of the same question at the beginning of each stanza is intentionally done to create curiosity or anxiety in the readers to know more about the benefits of planting a tree.
This technique of raising a question and then immediately providing an answer to the question is called Hypophora or Antiphora.