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The Blue Booby James Tate - Essay Example

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The Blue Booby James Tate

The blue of its feet is the blue of the sky and the sea where it lives. It is a blue that holds a fascination for the bird: this blue is the best collectible(they gather the blue /objects of the world ) as well as a cherished gift (the blue satisfies her/ completely, has /a magical effect/on her). On the surface, the poem is about these birds and these birds only. No mention is made of men or women throughout, only an adroit suggestion in the line: "from her day of/ gossip and shopping", which hints at a woman, and turns the entire poem into a masterly metaphor.
The initial lines , with their alliteration of "The blue booby ... bare rocks", paints a picture of utter simplicity, of a bird living on unclad rocks, who "fears nothing": "It is a simple life:/ they live on fish,/ and there are few predators". A life without hunger or fear takes away most of the predicament that plagues the human situation, and the male bird is not particularly occupied with the many quandarys of attracting a mate: "the males do not/make fools of themselves/ chasing after the young/ladies". The simple, prose-like sentences convey just the right nuance of expression, and the use of the word "ladies", emphasizes the human comparison.
The simple expedient for the blue booby is to build a bower of love w...
ly empty package of harsh but very popular French cigarettes, probably left by an irresponsible male tourist, or blue-beaded jewelery lost by a woman exploring the island, or even pieces of blue serge, all valuable to the booby for its blueness, but all images evocative of human presence, each with a story of its own. For instance, the term Gaulois brings to mind the French "esprit gaulois"--the Gallic spirit, a lighthearted approach to life which does not believe in taking life too seriously, much like the blue booby.

Tate stays focused on the theme, and does not let the language carry him away, as happens with most lists of articles in poems. The prose poem style with each line of the list beginning with "a" helps keep a sense of cadence, while narrating the objects. The list is a characteristic part of the blue booby mating ritual, a simple offering whose only value lies in the color, in a stark contrast with the often expensive gifts given by men in order to please a existing or potential partner. The poet's tone here is remote, detached, yet amused, especially with the mention of the beaded string and empty cigarette packet.

In the next few lines, Tate talks about how the blue booby has become unconcerned with external demonstrations of virility down the millenniums: "replaces the need for/dazzling plumage;
in fact, in the past/ fifty million years / the male has grown/ considerably duller,/nor can he sing well".

There is no striking plumage in order to gain female attention like in other male birds. This is totally unlike his human counterparts, who, as men of the world, sometimes go to great lengths to gain visual appeal in the eyes of a woman or demonstrate entertainment skills in order to attract a mate.

In the next paragraph, Tate goes on to ...Show more


The Blue Booby" by James Tate is a metaphor for the mating rituals between man and woman. It is a remote, wistful, and almost amused look at how charming and uncomplicated life could be without the devices of civilization, if men and women only were in complete harmony with each other and their surroundings.
Author : lizzieohara
The Blue Booby James Tate essay example
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