I was actually surprised by how easily I understood, and related to, this poem. Probably because of how explicit Ms. Piercy was about the whole suppression theme. Basically her whole poem boils down to this: the little bonsai tree would have had enormous potential to become a strong and thriving organism, but the gardener, thinking he was making it into what it was naturally meant to be, prunes it and keeps it small in an attractive little pot, telling it how lucky it should feel to be given so many good advantages. The poem finishes, very cleverly and accurately, saying that “with living creatures one must begin very early to dwarf their growth.” Otherwise, they would just get too powerful and out of hand, right? But my favorite part of this poem was the title, “A Work of Artifice.” It fit so perfectly as a description of the gardener’s efforts: a work of deception using cleverness or subtlety. Perfect.
Now obviously Piercy did not get this upset about a literal bonsai tree, although it is a very good analogy. It was describing women’s rights, which, until very recently, were treated exactly like that little bonsai tree. Women were expected to be “domestic and weak.” They were meant to fit into the perfect, loyal housewife stereotype, and shame on any woman who tried to become more than that. I don’t blame Piercy for creating such a sarcastic and pointed statement, though. I think it is clever and a good indication of the strong-willed woman’s side of the old story.
I have to say that even I get a little upset when I have to think about the misogynistic beliefs some people used to, and still, have. Actually, I get really upset. I hate it when people discount a woman just for being a woman, especially when there are plenty of men out there who are not useful in any way and are less than intelligent. I also hate when there are women that are classified as feminist for ANY defenses or pro-women statements they make, but men are never classified as masculinist (and it IS a word, even if Word tells me it’s not) even when some of them are brave enough to say EVERY DAY that they are better than women. I live to prove those kinds of people wrong. Sorry for being born with the wrong set of chromosomes! Not. Anyways, I am done with my rant. This poem just brought the whole idea up for me again. And Piercy pretty much said it in the perfect words, so I am glad I chose to read this poem…and get my diatribe out there, even if it’s not going anywhere.