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Updated: Dec 8, 2020


Patricia Kathleen Page also known as P. K. Irwin was born on 23 November 1916 in Swanage in Dorset, England and brought up on the Canadian prairies. She was a poet, novelist, playwright, prose writer, script writer, essayist and visual artist. Her poems first appeared in periodicals in the late 1930s, and later in Ronald Hambleton’s anthology Unit of Five (1944). Her first book was a romantic novel, The Sun and the Moon (1944), which she published under the pseudonym Judith Cape. She published her first solo book of poetry, As Ten, as Twenty (1946), under her real name.

Her visual art is exhibited in several permanent collections in Canada, including the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery on Ontario as P. K. Irwin. Throughout her career Page has maintained a style of poetry in keeping with the modernist influences developed during her association with the Montreal Preview group of poets in the 1940s. During that time Montreal was the center of Canadian literary activity.

Page also reaches out for a reality beyond the visible world. In an interview Page responds to the suggestion that her work expresses a belief in “multiple selves”. She received numerous awards, including the Oscar Blumenthal Award for Poetry (1944, Chicago), the Governor General’s Award for Poetry (1954), the Terasen Lifetime Achievement Award (2004). The National Film Board of Canada produced a film on her poetry, Still Waters – The Poetry of P. K. Page (1991). Page died on the 14th January, 2010 in Oak Bay, British Columbia.


The snails have made a garden of green lace: broderieanglaise from the cabbages, chantilly from the choux-fleurs, tiny veils- I see already that I lift the blind upon a woman's wardrobe of the mind. Such female whimsy floats about me like a kind of tulle, a flimsy mesh, while feet in gumboots pace the rectangles- garden abstracted, geometry awash- an unknown theorem argued in green ink, dropped in the bath. Euclid in glorious chlorophyll, half drunk. I none too sober slipping in the mud where rigged with guys of rain the clothes-reel gauche as the rangy skeleton of some gaunt delicate spidery mute is pitched as if listening; while hung from one thin rib a silver web- its infant, skeletal, diminutive, now sagged with sequins, pulled ellipsoid, glistening. I suffer shame in all these images. The garden is primeval, Giovanni in soggy denim squelches by my hub, over his ruin shakes a doleful head. But he so beautiful and diademed, his long Italian hands so wrung with rain I find his ache exists beyond my rim and almost weep to see a broken man made subject to my whim. O choir him, birds, and let him come to rest within this beauty as one rests in love, till pears upon the bough encrusted with small snails as pale as pearls hang golden in a heart that know tears are a part of love. And choir me too to keep my heart a size larger than seeing, unseduced by each bright glimpse of beauty striking like a bell, so that the whole may toll, its meaning shine clear of the myriad images that still- do what I will-encumber its pure line.


Lace - delicate fabric made of yarn or thread in an open weblike pattern.

Broderieanglaise - open embroidery, typically in floral patterns, on fine white cotton or linen.

Chantilly - a delicate silk, linen or synthetic bobbin lace in black or white.

Choux-fleurs - Cauliflower

Veil - a piece of fine material worn by women to protect or conceal the face.

Tulle - lightweight, very fine, stiff netting.

Mesh - loosely woven or knitted fabric that has many closely spaced hole.

Sequin – a small shiny disc sewn on to clothing for decoration.


The snails in the garden decorated it like a green lace with white work embroidery from cabbages, synthetic bobbin lace from cauliflowers and some tiny veils. This made the poet to picturize women’s armoire empty in her head. Women’s wardrobe of mind enlightens that a garden blemished by snails becomes the prefecture of a woman. The pleasant female idea inside her floats like a close netting which can be easily broken. The word ‘tulle’, ‘a flimsy mesh’ states the beauty of the destructed garden seen from the poet’s eyes. The poet’s feet in gumboots are placed quickly in the garden rectangle tails. The garden which never cares what is happening around flooded with water in angles and shapes. Those rain water accumulated as Green inks, form unknown theorems designed by a soaked place like Euclid’s geometry (The most prominent mathematician of Greco-Roman antiquity best known for his treatise on geometry)who is found among these glorious green inks like partially intoxicated with alcohol. The poet is also not in sober state slipped inside the mud where the rain is fixed. The clothes wrapped around tripped in an awkward way. The long skeleton of desolate weak spider sets its place in sliver web for listening to its prey, failed. when its small spiderling sink with shiny pulled ellipsoid like web.

She feels painful distress in all these things. In the garden full of emotions, Giovanni Bellini (renaissance Italian) raised in her mind with a wet jeans. He shakes his cheerless head to get over his ruin made by the rain. But, he is so beautifully crowned with his long Italian hands collapsed with it. The poet finds the pain of him exist beyond her rim. She feels sad to see a broken man who made subject for her desire. She asks the birds to sing for him, so that he would find peace inside the garden’s beauty like men who find peace of their life through love. Sing till fruits upon the branches of the tree gets decorated with those small snails like pearls. A heart full of love knows that tears are part of it. What is life if nothing ‘tears’ you apart, tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of love etc….

She wants the birds to sing for her too to make her heart larger than the present (intoxicated), the vision which forgets to give attention to all glimpses of beauty. So that she believes, she can enjoy everything by paying attention to the whole nature. The images will be frozen in her mind shining with meaning will make her do what she will, which gets in the way with the same purity.

(There is so much beauty in nature but we fail to stand and stare. Garden in home will helps us to sit and admire)


Dorothy Barenscott

The Canadian Encyclopedia

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