Saturday, February 11, 2006

poetry for the ages

because I'm a feminist and have been too absorved by other sillinesses
today a poem:
My Sisters, O My Sisters
Nous qui voulions poser,
image ineffaceable
Comme un delta divin
notre main sur le sable
Anna de Noailles
Dorothy Wordsworth, dying, did not want to read,
“I am too busy with my own feelings,” she said.
And all women who have wanted to break out
Of the prison of consciousness to sing or shout
Are strange monsters who renounce the treasure
Of their silence for a curious devouring pleasure.
Dickinson, Rossetti, Shappho – they all know it,
Something is lost, strained, strained in the poet.
She abdicates from life or like George Sand
Suffers from the mortality in an immortal hand,
Loves too much, spends a whole life to discover
She was born a good grandmother, not a good lover.
Too powerful for men: Madame de Stael.
Too sensitive:Madame de Sévigné, who burdened where she meant to give.
Delicate as that burden was and so supremely lovely,
It was too heavyfor her daughter, much too heavy.
Only when she built inward in a fearful isolation
Did any one succeed or learn to fuse emotionWith thought.
Only when she renounced did Emily
Begin in the fierce lonely light to learn to be.
Only in the extremety of spirit and the flesh
And in renouncing passion dis Shappho come to bless.
Only in the farewells or in old age does sanity
Shine through the crimson stains of their mortality.
And now we who are writing women and strange monsters
Still search our hearts to find the difficult answers,
0Still hope that we may learn to lay our hands
More gently and more subtly on the burning sands.
To be through what we make more simply human,
To come to the deep place where poet becomes
woman,Where nothing has to be renounced or given over
In the pure light that shines out from the lover,
In the warm light that brings forth fruit and flowerA
nd that great sanity, that sun, the feminine power.

In “May Sarton - A Self-Prortrait”, W.W. Norton & Company 1982


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