An Annotation of John Crowe Ransom's Blue Girls

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An Annotation of John Crowe Ransom's Blue Girls

Simply put, Blue Girls is about beauty. The poem focuses on the realization and truthfulness that beauty undoubtedly fades. The speaker appeals to young girls, warning them to not put all their hope in their beauty, but to still utilize it before it diminishes.

Blue Girls

By John Crowe Ransom

Twirling your blue skirts, travelling the sward

Under the towers of your seminary,

Go listen to your teacher old and contrary

Without believing a word.

Tie the white fillets then about your hair

And think no more of what will come to pass

Than bluebirds that go walking on the grass

And chattering on the air.

Practise your beauty, blue girls, before it fail;

And I will cry with my loud lips and publish

Beauty which all our power shall never establish,

It is so frail.

For I could tell you a story which is true;

I know a lady with a terrible tongue,

Blear eyes fallen from blue,

All her perfections tarnished &endash; yet it is not long

Since she was lovelier than any of you.

The "your" in this poem signifies young adolescent girls attending school. While the moral of the poem could apply to anyone, he probably chose young girls as his audience because they are often the most aware and the most controlled by outward beauty. He also chose the color blue here, which can mean "intellectual" when speaking of a woman. So, "blue" could very well refer to the knowledge the girls hold, or it could just be the color of their skirts. I prefer the first meaning, especially since we find out that they are attending school in the next line. A sward is a grassy area of land, thus suggesting that the girls lead a carefree life of "twirling" and "travel...

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... his point across here: beauty does indeed fade away, so some other purpose in life is necessary.

In this poem, Ransom offers the girls three main lessons, which, although they seem contradictory, are really closely related:

(1) Beauty does fade.

(2) Use your beauty as much as you can before it fades.

(3) Have something in your life besides beauty, so that when it fades, you are not left with nothing.

He describes beauty as delicate and rare, unable to be established. He focuses on the lightheartedness of young girls, how they are caught up in beauty, and he warns them to be conscientious of the fact that their beauty will fade and that they cannot put all their hope on their beauty. At the same time, he encourages them to "practice" their beauty until it is gone, and he promises to celebrate that beauty as best he can, with all its value and frailty.

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