Stripping Room

LINE NOTES

Title: For clarification of the literal process of stripping tobacco and the various grades of the leaves--trash, flyings, lugs, bright, red and tip—see Link 1 and 2 at the bottom. However, this suggests not only taking the clothes of a body (a relatively harmless act), but also the more destructive stripping of skin from a body, leaving "splintered bone."

3--barrel stove: for curing the tobacco?

what are the chalk figures?

4-5—metaphor: leaves falling from trees to ground (or is this more specifically the tobacco plants?) = season (person. as an angel? or an animal?) folding in its wings.

season ending, death

5-8—while literally describing the stripping of the plants, the imagery and figures are intriguing

5-6— "veined, elastic" figuratively suggests that the strippers reach their hands "into" (not "out to" or simply "to" something (limb? arm?) alive (even human?) to pull off the outer skin

6-7—the workers touch "shadows," not something substantial but rather a dark reflection (with the symbolic overtones)

7-8—the shadows literally must be the dark leaves of the tobacco plant, but in a simile they are compared to fingers stretching from what was once splintered bone and ash. How do fingers reach out from "splintered bone and ash"? and what does "the dark of the Continent" mean? Yes, the leaves are dark and are the product of the land, but why is "Continent" capitalized? (obviously for some symbolic meaning, but what is it?)

9-11—a personified Autumn is restless as it prepares to retire for the night (the ending [dying] of the season); the personified moon rises to search the "empty fields" with a flash light. If "roosts" are the places where birds rest or sleep, is what might be resting in this figure be any tobacco plant left in the field and not yet harvested? Or does the figurative roost here refer to the tobacco barn?

12-15 The harvesting process is nearing its end in the stripping room ("dust" and "dwindling" may acquire symbolic significance by the time we reach line 16)

14-15 "lugs and flyings" are inferior grades of tobacco leaves (those growing nearer to the ground on the plant stalk)

15-16 while literally "let the bounty / of the long days slip so easily through their hands" denotes the workers--at the end of the long, laborious harvesting process—efficiently finish their tasks and move the desired product ("the bounty") to its conclusion, the phrase symbolically suggests that they allow the important things in life ("the bounty") to elude them, almost as if through negligence or apathy ("slip so easily through their hands").

 

Linked Item 1: the various grades of the leaves from machine patent

Link 2: UK Extension Service--Stripping Burley Tobacco into Grades