Earle Birney

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Please help me understand the poem "Winter Saturday" by Earle Birney.

The poem "Winter Saturday" by Earle Birney compares people who stay inside in the winter to moths being fooled into leaving their cocoons by artificial light.

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The poem "Winter Saturday" by Canadian poet Earle Birney is an extended metaphor that compares people coming out of their houses in the winter after a snowstorm to moths being fooled into emerging from their dormancy by the warmth and radiance of artificial light. This comparison is made on purpose...

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The poem "Winter Saturday" by Canadian poet Earle Birney is an extended metaphor that compares people coming out of their houses in the winter after a snowstorm to moths being fooled into emerging from their dormancy by the warmth and radiance of artificial light. This comparison is made on purpose by the author to show the similarities between the behavior of humans and that of nature. For example, on cold, snowy Saturdays in winter, most people prefer to stay inside their homes, much like caterpillars hibernating and storing food and energy inside a log. However, they can be confused or coaxed into coming out of their "Ford cocoons" for a time, sometimes sooner than they should, by the allure and excitement of a night on Main Street, just as moths are attracted, often to their own demise, to artificial light, thinking it to be a signal that it's time to be active. However, the city lights can't stay on, just as natural sunlight is scarce in winter; when they go out, they drive the people back into the warmth and safety of their homes, lonely and waiting for spring to come.

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The use of the moth metaphor by Earle Birney emphasizes the fact that the farmers of this community live their lives according to the natural rhythms of the year and the changing of the seasons. In a rural environment, the weather is king. And so, when the farmers venture out to town to socialize, it is only because the weather has allowed them to. Just as the moth can only emerge from the warmth and comfort of its chrysalis into the big old world outside when nature says it can, so the farmers can only venture forth from their homes when there's a let-up in the storm.

The artificial light of the town attracts the farmers as moths to a flame. Winter is approaching, and so there's precious little natural light during the daytime. In any case, as farmers they're incredibly busy during the day and so wouldn't have time for socializing. They go to the movies and then dance the night away. But the dance hall and the cinema must close, and so, without light and all it represents, the farmers must return to the safety and warmth of their homes, their "cocoons," waiting to "hatch" once more after the coming winter has passed.

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In his poem “Winter Saturdays,” Earle Birney uses simile and metaphor to compare the farmers to the stages of the moth’s life cycle. A winter storm is over and the farmers emerge from their homes to go into town. He says that they come out of the wood in other words, they leave their homes and move to their vehicles which the author compares to cocoons. The vehicles encircle the farmer’s while they drive into town. As dusk is arriving they are driving toward the lights of town being drawn as moths are to light. They see the landmarks such as the water tank along the way. When they arrive in town they “hatch” from their vehicles to meet others, see a movie or perhaps dance to the music in a bar. The night was not all that they anticipated and the farmers make their way back in chrysalis form, surrounded by the hard outer covering of their vehicles. They go home, where once again the wind is bringing in snow, perhaps not to emerge again until spring.

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