‘‘The Taxi’’ is a poem that has nothing to do with a cab and yet everything to do with it. The word taxi is not once mentioned in the poem; rather, the reader experiences the speaker’s thoughts and sights as the cab carries her away through the streets of an unidentified city. This is a poem about the pain of leaving; in abstraction, the taxi becomes the cause of the pain, pulling the speaker farther and farther away from the object of her love and passion. So although this poem never mentions a taxi, the title gives the taxi a significance that the speaker does not have to explain. The title is used to give the reader an image—a woman being driven away in a cab, looking out the rear window and watching the distance between herself and her lover increase.
The title literally provides the vehicle of this poem, whereas the first three lines provide the direction that the taxi is taking. The speaker uses the first person singular pronoun to tell the reader that she is the one in the cab. She is the one who is leaving. The speaker also uses the pronoun ‘‘you’’ to announce that not only is she traveling from one location to another but that she is leaving someone behind. The speaker is not focused on where she is or where she is going but on what she has been torn away from. She is longing for something she cannot take with her. This inability to take someone with her completely transforms the world around her. Whereas the world was very much alive, presumably, in the presence of this person she is leaving, the world now feels dead. There is no rhythm to the world where there once was a strong beat that stirred her passions. Life is now dull in comparison.
In the fourth line, the speaker begins to convey how much she misses the object of her affections. She uses unusual images of stars and wind that uniquely express her pain. Without directly describing how much pain she is suffering, she is able to express her agony through images of sharpness. Stars protrude from the night skies, reflecting back to the speaker her own voice as she cries out for her lover.
In the fifth line, the wind appears to swallow her cries in its folds or to snag them on its sharp edges as the speaker continues to cry out to the one she loves. She is longing for this unnamed person from whom she is being carried away. But the images of the stars, which are so far away, and the wind, which has no form, are not comforting. The stars and wind lack the ability to empathize with her needs.
Though she does not mention the cab she is riding in, she does mention, in the sixth line, the effect it is having on her. As she is being carried away in the cab she has the illusion that it is not her body that is moving through space but rather the streets of the city that are rushing up and quickly passing by her. This gives the impression that she is stationary while the earth moves under her. Not only does this line provide an image, it also offers an insight into what the speaker is feeling. She is distressed because she does not want to leave her lover, while for some unstated reason she is compelled to depart. In the eighth line the speaker emphasizes again how her lover is being torn away from her.
Lines 9 and 10 continue to describe the pain that the speaker experiences as she leaves her lover. On top of everything else that she is feeling, the city lights now hurt her eyes. This most likely is a way of expressing the tears that are blurring her eyes. The speaker’s eyesight becomes so impaired that she can no longer see her lover. This could be a reflection of the speaker’s inability to see her lover physically because of the distance that has come between them, or on the psychological level, the inability to recapture a vision of her lover because it pains her to do so.
In the last two lines of this poem, the speaker asks why she should leave her lover, when leaving causes so much anguish. Again, in the last line, the speaker uses a sharp image to emphasize the pain she suffers every time she leaves. She ascribes to the night jagged edges upon which she has been stabbed.
Poetry for Students, Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Poetry, Volume 30, Amy Lowell, Gale Cengage Learning, 2009