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Anne Michaels "Women On a Beach"
Transcript of Anne Michaels "Women On a Beach"
“Light chooses white sails, the bellies of gulls.”
“At dusk you are a small soft heap, a kind of moss.
In the moonlight, a boulder of women.”
Poetic Verbal-Visual Collage
by: Ryan Sandarage
Anne Michaels is a famous Canadian novelist and poet born in Toronto, Ontario. The author is known for her novel Fugitive Pieces, her poems "Miner's Pond" and "The Weight of Oranges."
In the poem, "Women On a Beach," Anne Michaels uses a variety of imagery of three women to evoke an impression of the sunset. The poem contrasts between the environment and the description of the three women, which harmonizes the nature and women as one.
"The beach glows grainy under the sun's copper pressure, air the colour of tangerines."
“Your three bodies form a curving shoreline”
“One of you is sleeping, the wind's finger on your cheek like a tendril of hair.”
“Night exhales its long held breath.”
The quotation starts with the use of literal imagery to describe the colour of the beach sand's copper glow. The second part of the quotation is a metaphor for sunset, "air the colour of tangerines." This is an example of figurative imagery. The author is making the comparison of the colour of the air to that of the colour of tangerines describing the sunset. The images chosen for this collage was of sunsets with the orange hue of the sky and glow of the beach compared with a tangerine.
The quotation begins with a personification when it describes "light choosing white sails," which is applying a human trait to the light. This a figurative meaning used as a metaphor to compare the colour of the underside bellies of seagulls visible from the beach to the sails. The one few times imagery is used without the context of women. The images chosen contrast between the white sails and view of seagulls from the beach.
This quotation has a symbolic of meaning of how the curves of the three women sitting on the beach blending with the curves of the shoreline. The quote suggests symbolically that women and nature are one because the quotation tries to blur the contrast between the women and the natural environment and if they were one entity. The images used show the curves of the body and shoreline. The focal image is to represent how the women and the nature appear as one.
Women On a Beach
Light chooses white sails, the bellies of gulls.
Far away in a boat, someone wears a red shirt,
a tiny stab in the pale sky.
Your three bodies form a curving shoreline,
pink and brown sweaters, bare legs.
The beach glows grainy under the sun's copper pressure,
air the colour of tangerines.
One of you is sleeping, the wind's finger
on your cheek like a tendril of hair.
Night exhales its long held breath.
Stars puncture through.
At dusk you are a small soft heap, a kind of moss.
In the moonlight, a boulder of women.
This sentence describes one of the women calmly sleeping on the beach. This quotation features a lot of figurative imagery such as personification used to the wind calmly moving across the cheek. It is also followed by a simile comparing the women's cheek being brushed by the hair giving a relaxing atmosphere in the poem. The pictures chosen are meant to recreate the feeling of the calming movement of hair across the women's cheek.
Once again, Anne Michaels continues to use personification, in this case to describe the changing environment from dusk to night. The comparison used by the author of the night exhaling a "long held breath" is figurative imagery meant to describe the slow transition between the times of day. Once the "breath" has been completed exhaled it symbolizes the night. The images seen below show this slow transition with the sun being just visible above the horizon.
This quotation is the final stanza of the poem which uses a lot of figurative language to tie into the theme. The first sentence uses a metaphor comparing women to a soft heap of moss enjoying the transition from dusk to dark, which is the author blending the women into the environment. The second sentence is also a metaphor comparing women to a boulder, which symbolically suggest the women being one with the natural environment, in this case the moon in the night sky.