Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Analysis of "A Long Dress" By Gertrude Stein

Original poem reprinted online here:  "A Long Dress" By Gertrude Stein
Originally read: October 30, 2013
More information about the Poet: Gertrude Stein

Cinquains.  The first stanza of the poem feels more of discussion on process, and the second stanza discusses more of the output of the process.

In the first stanza, the word, "current" is punned upon many times in order to show the flow and question it:

     There is the current that makes machinery,
     that makes it crackle
     what is the current that presents a long line and a necessary waist
     What is this current
     What is the wind, what is it.

Note the use of current that creates objects (machinery) and sound (crackle).  And from this the production is a "long line" (which the line itself is a pun) and a "necessary waist."  I think the key here is how the rhetorical questions work in this stanza.

The lines question what current is then proceeds to question what wind is.  Note, that this doesn't necessarily correlate, quite the opposite.  The speaker is taking a stance in such a short poem to differentiate between two ideas.  Also note that the questions aren't really questions syntactically, rather they are statements.

The second stanza of the poem plays more with color than language -- some don't add up though:

     Where is the serene length,
     It is there and a dark place is not a dark place,
     only a white and red are black, only a yellow and green are blue
     a pink is scarlet, a bow is every color.  A line distinguishes it.
     A line just distinguishes it.

For me, the "serene length" refers to the length of the "line" whatever line represents.  Furthermore, the line referring to "a dark place" is not a dark place deals more with interpretation -- reference versus color in which the speaker discusses color and how the mixture of colors in line three can create different colors white and red due to saturation, and yellow and green due to how the color is mixed.  In line 4, the single colors are redefined -- pink is scarlet.  Furthermore, the product like a bow can be every color.

This "line" distinguishes it -- even through another repetition and a line break.  How?  The line defines the distinction, probably.  Whatever line means (could mean line drawn in the sand, poetic line, arbitrary line, glass ceiling, etc.)

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