“First Bone of a Woman” by Patricia Wellingham-Jones and “Afternoon in the Garden” are two poems that present the creation of the first woman and explore the nature of womanhood through the behavior, speech and descriptions of her. The authors addressed the story of creation differently through the use of alliteration, figurative language and symbol. “First Bone of a Woman,” describes in full detail the configuration of the female body as it is being constructed and focuses on the beauty and strength of her figure while “Afternoon in the Garden,” involves a complete and detailed version of the first woman’s day in the Garden of Eden and the meaningful discoveries she encounters that are not explored in other versions: “Then God created the woman: But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
And the lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (NIV Gen 2:18-24).
We begin reading “First Bone of a Woman” with a specific understanding that Wellingham-Jones is referring to the extraction of Adams rib to create his counterpart, Eve. “Flesh pads the jointed structure, soft skin covers the curves” is a specific example of Walders’ use of alliteration and figurative language to describe the smooth contour of a woman’s body as she is coming together piece by piece (Patricia Wellingham-Jones 6). The author’s repetition of sounds points the reader to importance of the actual physical structure that may otherwise be overlooked without the employment of such poetic device.
In many ways this is reminiscent of Davi Walders’ poem when she is referring to the apricot and describes the “sun on its flesh” (Walders 44-45). The repeated “s” and “c” sounds helps to communicate that the female body is feminine and light and should be thought of in a beautiful and fruitful fashion. As the sounds roll off of your tongue and as you read the works aloud you will find that they flow softly as the authors intend to describe the female figure. In some ways the author’s use of figurative language and symbol seem to be the strongest literary devices used in their poems to create unique portrayals of the early creation of woman and their role in womanhood. “Afternoon in the Garden” Walders describes the moment that the first woman shows her independence and uniqueness. Rather than seeing her choice to taste the fruit as a naïve and irresponsible choice that could lead to trouble, Walders presents the first woman’s decisions as thoughtful and experimental. Walders describes the first woman as she wonders through the garden on her exploration:
There’s that other fruit.
He calls it “apple”. I think
It’s not. It needs another name. (Davi Walders 41-43).
Walders begins to present the first woman as an individual capable of thought and decision and not merely made to be Adam’s entertainment. Although she is merely describing the picking and naming of fruit, this alludes to the idea that the first woman has a mind and ability to make judgments of her own to help satisfy her man. The fruits in this poem, apple and apricot symbolize a woman’s independence and her need for variation and excitement. This helps to support Walders’ exploration of womanhood as good and essential. The main character goes on to say: I’ll pluck one with the sun
On its flesh. It will not squash
Or stain, has no thorns. I’ll call
It “apricot”, bring an apple as well.
Then he will tell the difference.
A treat to share when he awakes.
Then I shall sing of the joy…
Of learning to be a good wife. (Walders 44-54)
Not only is Walders using this type of language of describing the fruits to show that she has conscious thoughts, but she also has the ability to use them to entice and pleasure her husband. The words, “I think: and “I’ll pluck one with the sun… on its flesh” clearly emphasizes the connection between the woman’s smooth body and alluring features as she explains she will bring the fruit to her husband to share as a treat together (Walders43-45). Walders is making a clear statement that a woman has the ability to make decisions, choose to go where she wants, when she wants and return in time to still make her husband happy after he has had his time to nap for the afternoon.
They both work together in the garden but they each have their own roles. She is not there to serve Adam as we have read in the Bible but more as her own person able to express independent thought and virtue. While he does the majority of the physical labor, she will go out and fill her need for change and difference and excitement while she explores her own identity and goes off to define their world as they are learning and growing each day both together and separately. If Walders did not state these words, “I think” and “on its flesh” we may not be able to conclude that she is so adamantly stating a woman has independent thoughts and deserves to be viewed as an asset to the future of our lives as we know them.
In contrast to “Afternoon in the Garden” the poem “First Bone of a Woman” in its literal description of the creation of the body, “The first bone of a woman shines with a spectral glow, knits itself to another until the framework brackets its form” (Wellingham-Jones 2-3). Wellingham-Jones is describing the formation of the body and the ability for each piece to easily connect from one to the next. This poems comes across as the strong, foundation of a female structure that not only has shape, but attractiveness necessary for a woman, while “Afternoon in the Garden” concentrates primarily on the discoveries that the first woman has during her explorations in the garden. “Soft skin covers the curves” is most certainly the author’s way of reminding the reader of a woman’s beauty and sexual attractiveness (Wellingham-Jones 6).
Without these lines the poem would read more like a blueprint to build a stick figure while the addition of these lines guides the audience to the sensual curves of a woman’s body. In many ways we forget that women are not only physical beings, both hard working and nurturing, but we are also loving and sensual being capable and requiring attention and affection. Patricia Wellington-Jones and Davi Walders approach their stories with unique and distinct voices. While Wellington Jones’ poem, “First Bone of a Woman” explores the creation of the female body as first understood by the biblical story presented to us in the story of Adam and Eve, she adds her own exciting idea that once the female body begun to take on its own shape it became an individual with a womanly nature and no longer would be reliant upon a man for her definition.
The man and the woman would complement each other. Davi Walders poem, “Afternoon in the Garden” explores the diversity of a woman and her abilities to make decisions and entertain herself as well as contribute to the growth and prosperity of the world. Walders depicts womanhood being expressed through exploration and contribution. Both poems present the creation of the first woman in a manner that the topic of womanhood can be viewed in a more substantial and important role than in other works available.
Courtney from Study Moose
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