The wire circled,
and earth removed,
thorns did grow,
beneath solid sand,
cool iron flowed,
across the trees,
while sentries stood,
with trumpet horns,
and there within,
the unseen grew,
and all collapsed,
within the walls.
This poem looks at the idea of preparing for one thing, but encountering another. It looks at the idea of taking precautions for one concern, while another goes unseen.
In the poem, there is a person with a home. The person is fearful of a home break in. Because of this, the person takes precautions to protect their home. The idea, is that the person wants to protect themselves from a potential harm.
At the same time, the person gets ill. They get an unexpected disease and their physical condition suffers. While the person took many steps to protect themselves against a perceived threat, an unperceived threat ended up causing them harm. In the poem, the person’s efforts to protect themselves from harm turned out to be futile.
Although the poem examines the idea of futile efforts, it doesn’t imply that the efforts were inherently futile. The efforts were directed in a wise way, however, another wise way was ignored. An analogy might be a knight in battle wearing chest armor, but having no helmet. The chest armor is good and was a good thing to prepare. The helmet was important too, but just not considered.
In terms of form, all lines of the poem are three words long. The poem is one stanza of twelve lines.
In the first line, The wire circled, the person has a chain link fence put up around their property.
In the second line, and earth removed, the person has ditches dug along the front of their property to make it so vehicles can only come down their driveway.
In the third line, thorns did grow, the person plants thorny plants.
The fourth line, beneath solid sand, relates to the third line and says that the plants were planted beneath windows. The windows are solid in that they are the type that are difficult to break.
The fifth and sixth lines say, cool iron flowed, across the trees. The cool iron are locks and the trees are the person’s doors.
The seventh and eighth lines say, while sentries stood, with trumpet horns. The sentries are various sensors, such as motion sensors. These sensors are connected to an alarm system which are the trumpet horns.
The ninth through eleventh lines talk about the disease the person has. The disease was within the person, and not like the threat the person perceived from the outside. The disease was unseen in that the person did not feel it growing and it was not something they thought to protect themselves against. The disease takes a physical toll on the person (and all collapsed).
The twelfth line relates the irony of the situation. The person built walls to protect themselves from the outside, and yet they are damaged from the inside. The walls were ineffective at protecting them from the threat that occurred.
As related above, this poem relates to the idea of preventing negative things. It looks at the notion that a person can go to great lengths to protect themselves from one type of negative thing, while something they did not consider can cause them harm. The poem does not say that the protective measures were bad, just that they were not the right kind for what the person encountered.
Although this poem looks at home protection and illness, the same sort of idea could be applied to other situations. For example, a person might go to great lengths to protect their home from fire, only to have their house flood. Or, a person might spend a lot of time learning how to repair their car, only to have something in their home break. The same idea can be applied to many situations where efforts are directed to one place but they turn out to have been needed in another.