The Color Purple


Has anyone else noticed the repeated use of Purple?  I’ve got it in 274, 307, and 310.  In 274 she uses it as the life that flows through her, I think:

I’d give – to live that hour – again

the purplein my Vein

307 is more ambiguous, not really signifying what she means by “the purple well.”  In fact, the whole stanza is very resistant, and I have no complete solution as to what it means:

A hallowed thing – to drop a life

Into the purple well –

Too plummetless – that it return –

Eternity – until –

After reading 274, I’m going to read the “purple well” as having something to do with life-force.  These lines also seem to suggest sexual imagery, should the purple refer to blood again, and “hallowed” is a lot like “hollowed,” is the purple well her feminine organs?–the place that a male would “drop a life” into?  Does the “too plummetless” signify the fact that her virginity keeps all life from coming out of it?  This would indicate that she does not give life, but she does keep her purple life force for herself, preserving herself.  Her virginity stands in opposition to the “bliss” that she imagines.  It’s not a happy thing–it’s solemn as she states in line 1, but she prefers it to the deflation of the other state.

Poem 310 sides “purple” with an out of reach Heaven:

Her teazing Purples – Afternoons –

The credulous – decoy –

Enamored – of the Conjuror –

That spurned us – Yesterday!

With this kind of reading of the color purple, it would make Heaven a place that holds more life–or the stuff that life depends on to exist–than anywhere on Earth.  It becomes a drug that it “teazes” her with, feeding an addiction without offering satisfaction–or it is the decoy that the “Conjuror” teazes her with, provoking her to madness in a way.  The use of “Conjuror” instead of “God,” and the context of the issues from 273 and 307, 310 could refer to a state of love instead of the religious Heaven (also notice she puts Heaven in quotations).  This would make the Conjuror a man who uses love, symbolized by heaven, to make her more alive than ever, but who also takes away that love, tantalizing her as if she were a play toy, loving her one day and spurning her the next.



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