How frail life is…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a metaphor from poet and novelist Jane Urquhart.

I admire the writing of Jane Urquhart, even though I don’t like it very much. I’ve read three of her novels — The Underpainter, The Stone Carvers and, more recently, Sanctuary Line. The writing is a bit too mannered for me, and too cold, although I see much to recommend it.

Sanctuary Line is set on a farm on the shores of Lake Erie, Ontario, revealing events in the lives of the members of one family, including a young woman who dies during a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Urquhart, who is also a poet, has an ear for metaphor. Here is one from the book that I liked, in particular:

How frail life is. We mow a meadow and kill a thousand butterflies. 

The image — a sort of elegant corollary to “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen ” — works perfectly for Sanctuary Line because the main character is an entomologist who spends her life studying butterflies. I also like the alliteration of mowing a meadow.

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