Natalie Safir's "Matisse's Dance" Analytical Essay by serendipity

Natalie Safir's "Matisse's Dance"
This paper discusses Natalie Safir's poem based on the Impressionist masterpiece, Matisse's "The Dance", which depicts a ring of five naked women dancing on a mound of fertile green grass.
# 48976 | 1,615 words | 0 sources | 2004 | US
Published on Feb 20, 2004 in Literature (Poetry) , English (Analysis) , Art (Painting)

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


This paper explains that this poem serves as an extended caption or a lyrical description of "The Dance," not as a feminist or psychoanalytic, symbolic interpretation of that painting in spite of those elements contained within the poem. The author points out that Safir's description of the movement and momentum in the painting corresponds directly to Matisse's images of the women, whose spiral dance brings the painting to life.The paper stresses that Safir's diction parallels Matisse's painting in its simplicity; a tone of simultaneous joy and anxiety is apparent in both the painting and the poem that describes it.

From the Paper:

"The "spirals of glee" that Safir perceives refers to the circular energy created by the spiral dance. While a spiral dance has feminist and pagan implications, this description is not arbitrary. Matisse's "Dance" is no tango but a female-centered ritualistic circular dance. It may or may not be fertility-related; Matisse's women are painted with such little detail that indeed several of them may be pregnant. In a similarly subtle fashion, Safir suggests pregnancy in her poem. One of the women's torsos is a "green-burning torch," indicating the potential life within. The poet's reference to "ripeness" also hints at possible pregnancy: "grass mounds curve ripely." However, these poetic elements are literal renderings of Matisse's own symbolism. Safir directly refers to the "grass mounds" that "curve ripely beneath." Her description of the grass, while it is innuendo for female sexuality and pregnancy, is actually just that: a description of the grass. Even the line "Breasts swell and multiply" is a formal interpretation of Matisse's painting. The artist does depict breasts, and the women's bodies are deliberately ambiguous as far as whether they are pregnant or not."

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Natalie Safir's "Matisse's Dance" (2004, February 20) Retrieved June 07, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Natalie Safir's "Matisse's Dance"" 20 February 2004. Web. 07 June. 2023. <>