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Canoe , The Analysis

Author: Poetry of Isabella Valancy Crawford Type: Poetry Views: 445

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1My masters twain made me a bed

2Of pine-boughs resinous, and cedar;

3Of moss, a soft and gentle breeder

4Of dreams of rest; and me they spread

5With furry skins, and laughing said,

6"Now she shall lay her polish'd sides,

7As queens do rest, or dainty brides,

8Our slender lady of the tides!"

9My masters twain their camp-soul lit,

10Streamed incense from the hissing cones,

11Large, crimson flashes grew and whirl'd

12Thin, golden nerves of sly light curl'd

13Round the dun camp, and rose faint zones,

14Half way about each grim bole knit,

15Like a shy child that would bedeck

16With its soft clasp a Brave's red neck;

17Yet sees the rough shield on his breast,

18The awful plumes shake on his crest,

19And fearful drops his timid face,

20Nor dares complete the sweet embrace.

21Into the hollow hearts of brakes,

22Yet warm from sides of does and stags,

23Pass'd to the crisp dark river flags;

24Sinuous, red as copper snakes,

25Sharp-headed serpents, made of light,

26Glided and hid themselves in night.

27My masters twain, the slaughter'd deer

28Hung on fork'd boughs—with thongs of leather.

29Bound were his stiff, slim feet together—

30His eyes like dead stars cold and drear;

31The wand'ring firelight drew near

32And laid its wide palm, red and anxious,

33On the sharp splendor of his branches;

34On the white foam grown hard and sere

35On flank and shoulder.

36Death—hard as breast of granite boulder,

37And under his lashes

38Peer'd thro' his eyes at his life's gray ashes.

39My masters twain sang songs that wove

40(As they burnish'd hunting blade and rifle)

41A golden thread with a cobweb trifle—

42Loud of the chase, and low of love.

43"O Love, art thou a silver fish ?

44Shy of the line and shy of gaffing,

45Which we do follow, fierce, yet laughing,

46Casting at thee the light-wing'd wish,

47And at the last shall we bring thee up

48From the crystal darkness under the cup

49Of lily folden,

50On broad leaves golden ?

51"O Love! art thou a silver deer,

52Swift thy starr'd feet as wing of swallow,

53While we with rushing arrows follow;

54And at the last shall we draw near,

55And over thy velvet neck cast thongs—

56Woven of roses, of stars, of songs ?

57New chains all molden

58Of rare gems olden!"

59They hung the slaughter'd fish like swords

60On saplings slender—like scimitars

61Bright, and ruddied from new-dead wars,

62Blaz'd in the light--the scaly hordes.

63They pil'd up boughs beneath the trees,

64Of cedar-web and green fir tassel;

65Low did the pointed pine tops rustle,

66The camp fire blush'd to the tender breeze.

67The hounds laid dew-laps on the ground,

68With needles of pine sweet, soft, and rusty—

69Dream'd of the dead stag stout and lusty;

70A bat by the red flames wove its round.

71The darkness built its wigwam walls

72Close round the camp, and at its curtain

73Press'd shapes, thin woven and uncertain,

74As white locks of tall waterfalls.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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• “Said the Canoe” describes an evening by the fire of a group of Native Canadians who are singing about love and hunting while seeing to the deer and fish which they caught. This poem is spoken from the point of view of the canoe—a mode of transportation and word which were part of the Natives’ existence in Canada and which were adopted into the English language and as part of the Canadian experience. The Native Canadian hunters are quoted twice in the text (when they are singing about love), but the rest is all in the voice of the canoe.
The poem is structured around dichotomies (opposites):
Canoe (femininity)//hunters x canoe is associated from the beginning with feminine imagery, so that this poem provides us with a feminine perspective on a man’s world, on the world of the hunters. In the first stanza in particular, there are sexual allusions, which configure the canoe as a symbol of the female body. The canoe is described as “a soft and gentle breeder […] spread with furry skins.” Moreover, the hunters metaphorize the canoe as a “slender lady” and compare it to queens and “dainty brides.” This emphasizes the link between the canoe and the female body.
Because nineteenth-century Canada was fairly restrictive, women’s sexuality could not be freely expressed. So Crawford uses the persona of a canoe, an inanimate object, which she describes using feminine and sexually-charged imagery, as an outlet for expressing female sexuality.

| Posted on 2012-06-23 | by a guest

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