Is there any figurative language (similes, metaphors, personification, symbols) in the poem "Smalltown Dance" by Judith Wright and what is their effect ?
Smalltown Dance by Judith Wright.
Two women find the square-root of a sheet.
That is an ancient dance:
arms wide: together: again: two forward steps: hands meet
your partner's once and twice.
[Now that you have an answer, the majority of the poem was deleted in respect of Wright's active copyright. Staff]
The referenced poem, Smalltown Dance by Judith Wright has several metaphors. The poem features a sheet – or the operation of folding it – which it describes as a dance. The dance begins with “arms wide: together: again: two forward steps: hands meet” and the reader can just imagine the steps of the dance and at the end “spread arms: then close them” leaves the reader with no illusions as the dance ends.
There is definite confusion within the poem and the poet is conflicted. The sheets are referred to as “high-scented walls” in the second verse but "they wrapped and comforted” bringing an element of personification but only briefly as we return to the “clean corridors of hiding.” Furthermore,… "saying, Your sins too are made Monday-new” is personification as the sky – the “ roof with blue”- encourages what is apparently a child - to "see ahead.” This figurative language gives the second verse a reminiscent quality, remembering a world of possibilities when there is still a change to "run,run!".
Life, however, develops a “fence” and opportunities to “get out” are few. The sheets are representative of the effort to get away as they “struggle from the peg” but do not “travel far.” Life restricts the women’s movement but there is no money for travel and “where danger lies” personifies danger as if it is tangible and more than just a possibility so it is better to “keep things orderly.”
The use of metaphor in the last verse does give closure to any thought of “those beckoning roads.” Closing the cupboard door is significant as dreams must remain dreams and reality returns.