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Earle Birney Writing Styles in Vancouver Lights

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"Vancouver Lights" is a meditative-descriptive lyric. In five irregular stanzas, Birney uses a kind of visual prosody to map the poem and to embody the poem's subjects. His inter- and intra-sentence spacings makes for a kind of staccato reading experience: we read the poem in the same way that the light and darkness Birney describes appear to him. Similarly, his enjambed lines emphasize the overlapping of the natural and the human worlds.

The poem's descriptive elements utilize concrete imagery and symbolic metaphors to depict a turbulent sea and busy, chaotic city. The active verbs—"wimples," "wraps," "sucks," "webs," "vault," "climb," "falter," "halt"—used to describe the light and darkness in the first stanza echo the ebb and flow of the sea described in the second stanza. Light and darkness themselves symbolize the flow of time and the alternating currents of hope and despair throughout human history. Many of the...

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This section contains 433 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Vancouver Lights Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Vancouver Lights from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.