The Complex Realities of Love: Idealism vs Everyday Turmoil

Categories: Metaphor


Since the dawn of humanity, love has been revered as a sublime connection, an unbreakable bond marked by pure bliss and wild passion. Over time, the concept of love has encountered nuanced shifts, yet it predominantly maintains its positive value. Susan Griffin's poem, "Love Should Grow Up Like a Wild Iris in the Fields," delves into the notion that this idealized love often succumbs to the tumult of everyday life and its harsh realities. Griffin employs various literary elements, including metaphors, symbolism, and tone shifts, to convey the message that love, initially seen as joyous and unbounded, becomes entangled and obscured by the challenges of daily existence.

Metaphor of the Wild Iris

Throughout the poem, Griffin artfully employs the metaphor of a wild iris to encapsulate the untamed growth of love. Similar to the wild iris, love can evolve into something beautiful and flourish rapidly, unrestricted by any limitations. Griffin vividly describes, "Love should grow up like a wild iris in the fields, unexpected, after a terrible storm, opening a purple mouth to the rain, with not a thought to the future, ignorant of the grass and the graveyard of leaves around, forgetting its own beginning" (1-5).

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This metaphor provides readers with a mental image, illustrating the emotional significance of love's spontaneity and wild nature.

Reality of Love

In the second stanza, Griffin introduces the stark reality of love. Utilizing symbolism and imagery, she paints a picture of love often neglected by the intricacies of daily life. Griffin juxtaposes the idealized image of love with the exhaustion and hunger prevalent during dinner hours, challenging the conventional portrayal of love as a blissful experience.

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She states, "Love more often is to be found in kitchens at the dinner hour, tired out and hungry" (8-9). The author suggests that love, commonly associated with joy, is overshadowed by the trials of everyday life, such as exhaustion and hunger.

Furthermore, Griffin symbolizes love as "houses where the walls record movements," implying that love, like the wild iris, should not be confined or suffocated; it must be allowed to grow freely. The poet continues by portraying scenarios of chaos during the dinner hour: "while the cook is probably angry, and the ingredients of the meal are budgeted, while a child cries feed me now and her mother not quite hysterical says over and over, wait just a bit" (11-13). Griffin illustrates that everyday stressors, from budgeting to attending to a crying child, often overwhelm the idealized notions of love, creating a tone of turmoil and chaos in the poem's second stanza.

Shift in Tone

One of the remarkable aspects of Griffin's poem is the abrupt shift in tone from the first stanza's positivity to the second stanza's chaos and turmoil. The poet masterfully captures the impact of everyday stressors on the perception of love, challenging the idyllic portrayal set in the initial verses.

Repetition of "Love Should Grow Up Like a Wild Iris in the Fields"

Griffin strategically repeats the line "Love should grow up like a wild iris in the fields" four times throughout the poem, each time altering the subsequent wording. This repetition marks the evolution of the phrase's meaning, transitioning from an idealized vision to a more negative and realistic portrayal of love. The first instance conjures images of beauty and spontaneity, while subsequent repetitions, such as "but does not" and "but doesn't," introduce a progressively negative tone (7, 15, 30). The repetition serves to underscore the contrast between the idealized and real perceptions of love, effectively engaging readers and prompting them to reflect on the illusion of ideal love versus reality.

Symbolism of the Wild Iris as the Iris of an Eye

In the final stanza, Griffin introduces a new layer of symbolism, portraying the wild iris as the iris of an eye. The iris, known for adjusting to varying light conditions, symbolizes that love is perceived differently through individual viewpoints. Griffin employs an effective technique by isolating the words "love should" on its own line, creating a visual impact that prompts readers to contemplate their unique interpretation of love (29). This visual device aligns with the symbolism of the iris, emphasizing that human perception influences the understanding of love.


Griffin's exploration of the societal shaping of love challenges the existence of a universal definition for "true love." Her unique writing style plays a pivotal role in portraying the dichotomy between idealized and realistic aspects of love. Through metaphors, symbolism, and shifts in tone, Griffin urges readers to consider their personal understanding of love. In the end, the poem serves as an invitation to reflect on the complexities inherent in defining what love should be.

Additional Information

Beyond the structural analysis, it is essential to consider Griffin's keen exploration of societal influences on the perception of love. The poet's unique writing style, marked by vivid metaphors and poignant symbolism, contributes significantly to portraying the complexities of love. Additionally, Griffin encourages readers to contemplate their individual perspectives on love, emphasizing the subjective nature of this profound emotion.

Updated: Jan 11, 2024
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The Complex Realities of Love: Idealism vs Everyday Turmoil. (2016, Mar 06). Retrieved from

The Complex Realities of Love: Idealism vs Everyday Turmoil essay
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