A piece in bloom

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camels

Senior Member
Farsi
I am reading W.E.Henley's poem. I was wondering what does he mean by : "Madam Life's a piece in bloom"

"Madam Life's a piece in bloom
Death goes dogging everywhere:
She's the tenant of the room,
He's the ruffian on the stair."

Does he mean the bloom itself? Don't you say "piece of bloom" in English?

I would appreciated your help.
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Remember this is a poem, and in poetry you'll find many words used in unconventional, non-literal ways. 'Piece' is indeed an unusual word here, but I'd say Henley is simply saying that Life is alive, blooming, and that we only have it for a while (like a tenant) and that Death is always waiting for us (on the stair).


    BE speakers may find the second line inadvertently amusing - for reasons I can't go into here. :eek:
     

    exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    BE speakers may find the second line inadvertently amusing - for reasons I can't go into here. :eek:
    This poem is by William Ernest Henley, a British nineteenth-century poet, best known for Invictus. Is this another example of the innocence of British poets, like Browning's famous mistake about a piece of nun's clothing?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'd say that Life is being compared to a brothel-keeper or prostitute*; and that "piece" has this meaning from the OED:
    b. A woman or girl; in later use usu. derogatory, with connotation of a woman regarded as a sexual object.[...]
    *See meaning 2 in the WRF dictionary definition of "madam":
    a woman who runs a brothel.

    --------

    Added
    : I found the text of the whole poem here.
     
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    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Having read the whole poem (which I guess I should have done earlier) I tend to agree with Loob. It (nearly) all makes sense now.
     
    Last edited:
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