Loneliness: An Interpretation
The poem, “Loneliness” by Laura Cortes talks about the universal experience of loneliness. The poem narrates the experience of a man who lives in the highlands and whose business is growing apples. The first stanza provides the background of the man and the setting. In the poem, the man lives in a stone house in the mountains. Literally, this means that the man has built his house in the highlands or in a farm where he grows apples. The house is said to be surrounded by memories and ghosts, making it an old house.
This denotes that some people used to live in the house, and once shared memories but now they have either left (serve as “memories”) or passed away (“ghosts”). The second stanza expresses the man’s situation. He is alone and has no one to talk to. In his lonely times he talks to the trees. The line, “but he would never leave them alone” (8) means that although the apples cannot reply, the man never leaves them and keeps on speaking to them. It also states how long the apples have lived. Since the apples have been around for forty years, the man is probably in his 60s or 70s.
The third stanza depicts the life of the man. During his youth he had forty hands or twenty men helping him. During that time he had wonderful harvests that made him wealthy. This could likewise be the peak of his career as a businessman, and the happiest time of his family life. The last line that says, “with the young and united family smiling” denotes the time when his children were young and the family was complete. The last stanza talks about what happens to the man after forty years. This time, both he and the apple trees are tired and old. The man is tired from life while the trees are tired from bearing fruits.
Both of them are thus tired from the harvests they made but they still look forward to another harvest, another season that will soon come. Figuratively, the central idea of the poem is expressed through a metaphor. The man in the poem is indirectly compared to his apple trees. Symbolically, the apples, with their fresh scent, represent the man’s youth and life. Like the apple trees that have their peak harvest, the man also experiences the peak of his life, but just like the apples that grow old and wither with time, the man reaches old age and becomes solitary.
As stated in the first stanza, he lives in a house of stone amid the mountains. The stone house reflects his wealth and stature, while the mountains could represent the solitude and loneliness he suffers from. There is semblance between him and the apple trees. Like the apple trees which are once bountiful in harvest, the man in his youth used to have everything, a nice house, a happy and united family, a stable business as represented by the forty hands that help him. However, as expressed in the second stanza, he is alone now, and has no one to talk to but his trees.
In the third stanza, the man’s family is described as a “united family” during his youth, which suggests that now his loved ones are gone, they have either left him and moved to another place, or have passed away. This mainly causes the man to feel lonely. The last stanza expresses the tiredness and oldness of both the man and the apples. Again, the comparison is expressed between their present condition and their waiting for the next harvest. The “harvest” in the last line could mean not only the harvesting of apples but the coming of a new season, a new life which is beyond the life he has lived on earth.