m o o R A e n O f O â€? n w O
i rg v
f l o o ina w
m s ’ e
It was disappointing not to have brought back in the evening some important statement, some authentic fact. Women are poorer than men because—this or that. Perhaps now it would be better to give up seeking for the truth, and receiving on one’s head an avalanche of opinion hot as lava, discoloured as dish-water. It would be better to draw the curtains; to shut out distractions; to light the lamp; to narrow the enquiry and to ask the historian, who records not opinions but facts, to describe under what conditions women lived, not throughout the ages, but in England, say in the time of Elizabeth. For it is a perennial puzzle why no woman wrote a word of that extraordinary literature when every other man, it seemed, was capable of song or sonnet. What were the conditions in which women lived, I asked myself; for fiction, imaginative work that is, is not dropped like a pebble upon the ground, as science may be; fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in mid-air by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings, and are attached to grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.
I went, therefore to the shelf where the histories stand and took down one of the latest, Professor Trevelyan’s History of England. Once more I looked up Women, found in “position of,” and turned to the pages indicated. “Wife-beating,” I read, “was a recognised right of man, and was practiced without shame by high as well as low. . . . Similarly,” the historian goes on, “the daughter who refused to marry the gentleman of her parents’ choice was liable to be locked up, beaten and flung about the room, without any shock being inflicted on public opinion. Marriage was not an affair of persona affection, but of family avarice, particularly in the ‘chivalrous’ upper classes. . . . Betrothal often took place while one or both of the parties was in the cradle, and marriage when they were scarcely out of the nurses’ charge.” That was about 1470, soon after Chaucer’s time. The next reference to the position of women is some two hundred years later, in the time of the Stuarts. “It was still the exception for women of the upper and middle class to choose their own husbands, and when the husband had been assigned, he was lord and master, so far at least as law and custom could make him. yet even so,” Professor Trevelyan concludes, “neither Shakespeare’s women nor those of authentic seventeenth century memoirs, like the Verneys and the Hutchinsons, seem wanting in personality and character.” Certainly, if we consider it, Cleopatra must have had a way with her; Lady Macbeth, one would suppose, had a will of her own; Rosalind, one might conclude, was an attractive girl. Professor Trevelyan is speaking no more than the truth when he remarks that Shakespeare’s women do not seem wanting in personality and character. Not being a historian, one might go even further and say that women have burnt like beacons in all the works of all the poets from the beginning of time—Clytemnestra, Antigone, Cleopatra, Lady Macbeth, Phédre, Cressida, Rosalind, Desdemona, the Duchess of Malfi, among the dramtists; then among the prose writers: Millamant, Clarissa, Becky Sharp, Anna Karenina, Emma Bovary, Madame de Guermantes—the names flock to mind, nor do they recall women “lacking in personality and character.” Indeed, if woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance; very various; heroic and mean; splendid and sordid; infinitely beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as a man, some think even greater. But this is woman in fiction. In fact, as Professor Trevelyan points out, she was locked up, beaten and flung about the room.
A very queer, composite being thus emerges. Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact she was the slave of an boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger. Some of the most inspired words, some of the most profound thoughts in literature fall from her lips; in real life she could hardly read, could scarcely spell, and was the property of her husband. It was certainly an odd monster that one made up by reading the historians first and the poets afterwards—a worm winged like an eagle; the spirit of life and beauty in a kitchen chopping up suet. But these monsters, however amusing to the imagination, have no existence in fact. What one must do to bring her to life was to think poetically and prosaically at one and the same moment, thus keeping in touch with fact—that she is Mrs. Martin, aged thirty-six, dressed in blue, wearing a black hat and brown shoes; but not losing sight of fiction either—that she is a vessel in which all sorts of spirits and forces are coursing and flashing perpetually. The moment, however, that one tries this method with the Elizabethan woman, one branch of illumination fails;; one is held up by the scarcity of facts. One knows nothing detailed, nothing perfectly true and substantial about her. History scarcely mentions her. And I turned to Professor Trevelyan again to see what history meant to him. I found by looking at his chapter headings that it meant “The Manor Court and the Methods of Open-field Agriculture...The Cistercians and Sheep-farming ...The Crusades...The University...The House of Commons...The Hundred Years’ War...The Wars of the Roses...The Renaissance Scholars...The Dissolution of the Monasteries...Agrarian and Religious Strife...The Origin of English Sea-Power...The Armada...” and so on. Occasionally an individual woman is mentioned, an Elizabeth, or a Mary; a queen or a great lady. But by no possible means could middle-class women with nothing but brains and character at their command have taken part in any one of the great movements which, brought together, constitute the historian’s view of the past. Nor shall we find her in any collection of anecdotes. Aubrey hardly mentions her. She never writes her own life and scarcely keeps a diary; there are only a handful of her letters in existence. She left no plays or poems by which we can judge her. What one wants, I thought-and why does not some brilliant student at Newnham or Girton supply it?-is a mass of information; at what age did she marry; how many children she had as a rule; what was her house like; had she a room to herself; did she do the cooking; would she be likely to have a servant? All these facts lie somewhere, presumably, in parish registers and account books; the life of the average Elizabethan woman must be scattered about somewhere, could one collect it and make a book of it. It would be ambitious beyond my daring, I thought, looking about the shelves for books that were not there, to suggest to the students of those famous colleges that they should re-write history, though I own that it often seems a little queer as it is, unreal, lop-sided; but why should they not add a supplement to history? calling it, of course, by some inconspicuous name so that women might figure there without impropriety? For one often catches a glimpse of them in the lives of the great, whisking away into the background, concealing, I sometimes think, a wink, a laugh, perhaps a tear. And, after all, we have lives enough of Jane Austen; it scarcely seems necessary to consider again the influence of the tragedies of Joanna Baillie upon the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe; as for myself, I should not mind if the homes and haunts of Mary Russel Mitford were closed to the public for a century at least. But what I find deplorable, I continued, looking about the bookshelves again, is that nothing is known about women before the eighteenth century. I have no model in my mind to turn about this way and that. Here am I asking why women did not write poetry in the Elizabethan age, and I am not sure how they were educated; whether they were taught to write; whether they had sitting-rooms to themseleves; how many women had children before they were twenty-one; what, in short, they did from eight in the morning till eight at night. They had no money evidently; according to Professor Trevelyan they were married whether they liked it or not before they were out of the nursery, at fifteen or sixteen very likely. It would have been extremely odd, even upon this showing, had one of them suddenly written the plays of Shakespeare, I concluded, and I thought of that old gentleman, who is dead now, but was a bishop, I think, who declared that it was impossible for any woman, past, present, or to come, to have the genius of Shakespeare. He wrote to the papers about it. He also told a lady who applied to him for information that cats do not as a matter of fact go to heaven, though they have, he added, souls of a sort. How much thinking those old gentlemen used to save one! How the borders of ignorance shrank back at their approach! Cats do not go to heaven. Women cannot write the plays of Shakespeare. Be that as it may, I could not help thinking, as I looked at the works of Shakespeare on the shelf, that the bishop was right at least in this; it would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for nay woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare. Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, wha towel dhal happened had Shakespeare a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably-his mother was an heiress-to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Ltin—Ovid, Virgil and Horace—and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right. That escapade sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door. Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the universe, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practising his art on the
boards, exercising his wits in the streets, and even getting access to the palace of the queen. Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home. She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to schoo. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter— indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly, but was careful to hide them or set fire to them. Soon, however, before she was out of her teens, she was to be betrothed to the son of a neighboring wool-stapler. She cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father. Then he ceased to scold her. He begged her instead not to hurt him, not to shame him in this matter of her marriage. He would give her a chain of beads or a fine petticoat, he said; and there were tears in his eyes. How could she disobey him? How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove hr to it. She mad eup a small parcel of her belongings, let herself down by a rope one summer’s night and took the road to London. She was not seventeen. The birds that sang in the hedge were not more musical than she was. She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face. The manager—a fat, loose-lipped man—guffawed. He bellowed something about poodles dancing and women acting-no woman, he said, could possibly be an acress. He hinted-you can imagine what. She could get no training in her craft. Could she even seek her dinner in a tavern or roam the streets at midnight? Yet her genius was for fiction and lusted to feed abundantly upon the lives of men and women and the study of their ways. At last-for she was very younng, oddly ike Shakespeare the poet in her face, with the same grey eyes and rounded brows-at last Nick Greene the actor-manager took pity on her; she found herself with child by that gentleman and so-who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?-killed herself one winter’s night and lies buried at some cross-roads where the omnibuses now stop outside the Elephant and Castle. That, more or less, is how the story would run, I think, if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had Shakespeare’s genius. But for my part, I agree with the deceased bishop, if such he was-it is unthinkable that any woman in Shakespeare’s day should have had Shakespeare’s genius. For genius like Shakespeare’s is not born among laboring, uneducated, servile people. It was not born in England among the Saxons and the Britons. It is not born today among the working classes. How, then, could it have been born among women who's work began, according to Professor Trevelyan, almost before they were out of the nursery, who were forced to it by their parents and held to it by all the power of law and custom? Yet genius of a sort must have existed among the working classes. Now and again an Emily Brontë or a Robert Burns blazes out and proves its presence. But certainly it never got itself on to paper. When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Brontë who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to. Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman. It was a woman Edward Fitzgerald, I think, suggested who made the ballads and the folk-songs, crooning them to her children, beguiling her spinning with them, or the length of the winter’s night ball. This may be true or it may be false-who can say?-but what is true in it, so it seemed to me, reviewing the story of Shakespeare’s sister as I had made it, is that century would certainly have gone crazed, shot herself, or ended her days in some lonely cottage outside the village, half witch, half wizard, feared and mocked at. For it needs little skill in psychology to be sure that a highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty. No girl could have walked to London and stood at a stage door and forced her way into the presence of actor-managers without doing herself a violence and sufferingg in anguish which may have been irrational-for chastity may be a fetish invented by certain societies for unknown reasons—but were none the less inevitable. Chastity had then, it has even now, a religious importance in a woman’s life, and has so wrapped itself round with nerves and instincts that to cut it free and bring it to the light of day demands courage of the rarest. To have lived a free life in London in the sixteenth century would have meant for a woman who was poet and playwright a nervous stress and dilemma which might well have killed her. Had she survived, whatever she had written would have been twisted and deformed, issuing from a strained and morbid imagination. And undoubtedly, I thought, looking at the shelf where there are no plays by women, her work would have gone unsigned. That refuge she would have sought certainly. It was the relic of the sense of chastity that dictated anonymity to women even so late as the nineteenth century. Currer Bell, George Eliot, George Sand, all the victims of inner strife as their writings prove, sought ineffectively to veil themselves by using the name of a man. Thus they did homage to the convention, which if not implanted by the other sex was liberally encouraged by them (the chief glory of a woman is not to be talked of, said Pericles, himself a much-talked-of-man), that publicity in women is detestable. Anonymity runs in their blood. The desire to be veiled still possesses them. They are not even now as concerned about the health of their fame as men are, and , speaking generally, will pass a tombstone or a signpost without feeling an irresistible desire to cut their names on it, as Alf, Bert or Chas. must do in obedience to their instinct, which murmurs if it sees a fine woman go by, or even a dog, Ce chien est à moi. And, of course, it may not be a dog, I thought, remembering Parliament Square, the Sièges Allée and other avenues; may be a piece of land or a man with curly black hair. It is one of the great advantages of being a woman that one can pass even a very fine negress without wishing to make an Englishwoman of her.
it may be a piece of land or a man with curly black hair. It is one of the great advantages of being a woman that one can pass even a very fine negress without wishing o make an Englishwoman of her. That woman, then, who was born with a fist of poetry in the sixteenth century, was an unhappy woman, a woman at strife against herself. All the conditions of her life, all her own instincts, were hostile to the state of mind which is needed to set free whatever is in the brain. But what is the state of mind that is most propitious to the act of creation, I asked. Can one come by any notion of the state that furthers and makes possible that strange activity? Here I opened the volume containing the Tragedies of Shakespeare. What was Shakespeare’s state of mind, for instance, when he wrote Lear and Antony and Cleopatra? It was certainly the state of mind most favourable to poetry that there has ever existed. But Shakespeare himself said nothing about it. We only know casually and by chance that he “never blotted a line.” Nothing indeed was ever said by the artist himself about his state of mind until the eighteenth century perhaps. Rousseau perhaps began it. At any rate, by the nineteenth century self-consciousness had developed so far that it was the habit for men of letters to describe their minds in confessions and auto-biographies. Their lives were also written, and their letters were printed after their deaths. Thus, though we do not know what Shakespeare went through when he wrote Lear, we do know what Carlyle went through when he wrote the French Revolution; what Falubert wen tthrough when he wrote Madame Bovary; what Keats was going through when he tried to write poetry against the coming of death and the indifference of the world. And one gathers from this enormous modern literature of confession and self-analysis that to write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer’s mind whole and entire. Generally material circumstances are against it. Dogs will bark; people will interrupt; money must be made; health will break down. Further, accentuating all these difficulties and making them harder to bear is the world’s notorious indifference. It does not ask people to write poems and novels and histories; it does not need them. It does not care whether Flaubert finds the right word or whether Carlyle scrupulously verifies this or that fact. Naturally, it will not pay for what it does not want. And so the writer, Keats, Flaubert, Carlyle, suffers, especially in the creative years of youth, every form of distraction and discouragement. A curse, a cry of agony, rises from those books of analysis and confession. “Mighty poets in their misery dead:-that is the burden of their song. If anything comes through in spite of all of this, it is a miracle, and probably no book is born entire and uncrippled as it was conceived. But for women, I thought, looking at the empty shelves, these difficulties were infinitely more formidable. In the first place, to have a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a sound-proof room, was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble, even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Since her pin money, which depended on the good will of her father, was only enough to keep her clothed, she was debarred from such alleviations as came even to Keats or Tennyson or Carlyle, all poor men, from a walking tour, a little journey to France, from the separate lodging which, even if it were a miserable enough, sheltered them from the claims and tyrannies of their families. Such material difficulties were formidable; but much worse were the immaterial. The indifference of the world which Keats and Flaubert and the rmen of genius have found so hard to bear was in her case not indifference but hostility. The world di not say to her as it said to them, Write if you choose; it makes no difference to me. The world said with a guffaw, Write? What’s the good of your writing? Here the psychologists of Newnham and Girton might come to our help, I thought, looking again at the blanks paces on the shelves. For surely it is time that the effect of discouragement upon the mind of the artist should be measured, as I have seen a diary company meausr the effect of ordinary milk and Grade A milk upon the body of the rat. They set two rats in cages side by side, and of the two one was furtive, timid and small, and the other was glossy, bold and big. Now what food do we feed women as artist upon? I asked, remembering, I suppose, that dinner of prunes and custard. To answer that question I had only to open the evening paper and to read that Lord Birkenhead is of opinion-but really I am not going to trouble to copy out Lord Birkenhead’s opinion upon the writing of women. What Dean Inge may be allowed to rouse the echoes of Harley Street with his vociferations without raising a hair on my head. I will quote, however, Mr. Oscar Browning, because Mr. Oscar Browning was a great figure in Cambridge at one time, and used to examine the students at Girton and Newnham. Mr. Oscar Browning was won't to declare “that the impression left on his mind, after looking over any set of examination papers, was that, irrespective of the marks he might give, the best woman was intellectually the inferior of the worst man.” After saying that Mr. Browning went back to his rooms—and it is this sequel that endears him and makes him a human figure of some bulk and majesty— he went back to his rooms and found a stable-boy lying on the sofa—“a mere skeleton, his cheeks were cavernous and sallow, his teeth were black, and he did not appear to have the full use of his limbs. . . . ‘That’s Arthur’ [said Mr. Browning]. ‘He’s a dear boy really and most high-minded.’” The two pictures always seem to me to complete each other. And happily in this age of biography the two pictures often do complete each other, so that we are able to interpret the opinions of great men not only by what they say, but what they do. But though this is possible now, such opinions coming from the lips of important people must have been formidable enough even fifty years ago. Let us suppose that a father from the highest motives did not wish his daughter to leave home and become writer, painter or scholar. “See what Mr. Oscar Browning says,” he would say; and there was not only Mr. Oscar Browning; there was the Saturday Review; there was Mr. Greg— the “essentials of a woman’s being,” said Mr. Greg emphatically, “are that they are supported by, and they minister to, men”—there was an enormous body of masculine option to the effect that nothing could be expected of women intellectually. Even if her father did not read out loud these opinions, any girl could read them for herself; and the reading, even in the nineteenthenth century, must have lowered her vitality, and told profoundly upon her work. There would always have been that assertion—you cannot do this, you are incapable of doing that—to protest agains, to overcome. Probably for a novelist this germ is no longer of much effect; for there have been women novelists of merit. But for painters it must still have some sting in it; and for musicians, I imagine, is even now active and poisonous in the extreme. The woman composer stands where the actress stood in the time of Shakespeare. Nick Green, I thought, remembering the story I had made about Shakespeare’s sister, said that a woman acting put him in mind of a dog dancing. Johnson repeated the phrase two hundred years later of women preaching. And here, I said, opening a book about music, we have the very words used again in this
words used again in this year of grace, 1928, of women who try to write music. “of Mlle. Germaine Tailleferre can only repeat Dr. Johnson’s dictum concerning a woman preacher, transposed into terms of music. ‘Sir, a woman’s composing is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.’” So accurately does history repeat itself. Thus, I concluded, shutting Mr. Oscar Browning’s life and pushing away the rest, it is fairly evident that even in the nineteenth century a woman was not encouraged to be an artist. ON the contrary, she was snubbed, slapped, lectured and exhorted. Her mind must have been strained and her vitality lowered by the need of opposing this, of disproving that. For here gain we come within range of that very interesting and obscure masculine complex which has had so much influence upon the woman’s movement; that deep-seated desire, not so much that she shall be inferior as that he shall be superior, which plants him wherever one looks, not only in front of the arts but barring the way to politics too, even when the risk to himself seems infintesimal and the suppliant humble and devoted. Even Lady Bessborough, I remembered, with all her passion for politics, must humbly bow herself and write to Lord Granville Leveson-Gower: “. . . notwithstanding all my violence in politics and talking so much on that subject, I perfectly agree with you that no woman has any business to meddle with that or any other serious business, farther than giving her opinion (if she is ask’d).” And so she goes on to spend her enthusiasm where it meets with no obstacle whatsoever upon that immensely important subject, Lord Granville’s maiden speech in the House of Commons. The spectacle is certainly a strange one, I thought. The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more interesting perhaps than the story of that emancipation itself. An amusing book might be made of it if some young student at Girton or Newnham would collect examples and deduce a theory— but she would need thick gloves on her hands, and bars to protect her of solid gold. But what is amusing now, I recollected, shutting Lady Bessborough, had to be taken in desperate earnest once. Opinions that one now pastes in a book labelled a cock-a-doodle-dum and keeps for reading to select audiences on summer nights once drew tears, I can assure you. Among your grandmothers and great-grandmothers there were many that wept their eyes out. Florence Nightingale shrieked aloud in her agony. Moreover, it is all very well for you, who have got yourselves to college and enjoy sitting-rooms—or is it only bed-sitting-rooms? —of your own to say that genius should disregard such opinions; that genius should be above by caring what is said of it. Unfortunately, it is precisely themes or women of genius who mind most what is said of them. Remember Keats. Remember the words he had cut on his tombstone. Think of Tennyson; think—but I need early multiply the instances of the undeniable, if very, unfortunate, fact that it is the nature of the artist to mind excessively what is said about him. Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others. And this susceptibility of theirs is doubly unfortunate, I thought, returning again to my original enquiry into what state of mind is pos propitious for creative work, because the mind of an artist, in order to achieve the prodigious effort of free whole and entire the work that is in him, must be incandescent, like Shakespeare’s mind, I conjectured, looking at the book which lay open at Antony and Cleopatra. There must be no obstacle in it, no foreign matter unconsumed. For though we say that we know nothing about Shakespeare’s state of mind, even as we say that, we are saying something about Shakespeare’s state of mind. The reason perhaps why we know so little of Shakespeare— compared with Donne or Ben Jonson or Milton—is that his grudges and spites and antipathies are hidden from us. We are not held up by some “revelation” which reminds us of the writer. All desire to protest, to preach, to proclaim an injury, to pay off a score, to make the world the witness of some hardship or grievance was fired out of him and consumed. Therefore his poetry flows from him free and consumed. Therefore his human being got his work expressed completely, it was Shakespeare. If ever a mind was incandescent, unimpeded, I thought, turning again to the bookcase, it was Shakespeare’s mind.
-gnikcoM srab UB
DL uH ni
YDD KAW l r u H IF DL
-worC gn ta sdrib s coM
BUDDY MockWAKE Hurlingbars FIE
BUDD CrowWA Ebirds at HurlELD ing Crow- MockHurl- birds at ingb Mockinging B bars CrowBUDDY irds at birds at WAK F MockMockingbars ingba If we were
created in God’s image Then when God was a child he smooshed ﬁre ants with his ﬁngertips and avoided tough questions. There are ways around being the go to person everybody, even for ourselves, even when the answer is clear. Like the holy water the gentiles drank, before they realized
is the release of all hope for a better past.
I thought those were chime shells in your pocket so I chucked a quarter at it hoping to hear some part of you respond on a high note you acted like I was hurling crowbirds at mockingbars and abandoned me for not making sense. Evidently, I don’t experience things as rationally as you do. For example, I know mercy, when I have enough money to change the jukebox at a gay bar … somebody’s gotta change that shit.
You know mercy whenever someone shoves a stick of morphine straight up your into your heart Goddamn, it felt amazing the days you were happy to see me. So I smashed a beehive against the ocean to try and make our splash last longer. Remember all the honey it had me lookin like a jellyﬁsh, ape. You? You, walked off the water in a porcupine of light Strands of gold drizzled out to the tips of your wasps
Hurl- Crowing CrowE- Hurlbirds birds at ELD ing Mocking- M DY bars CrowAKEBUDD birds at WA FIELD HurlMocking Crowingb bars birds at MockingBUDDY bars Y WAKEBUDDY KEWAK HurlFIELD FIELD Hurl- F ing Crowbirds at ing ars MockingThis. This is an apology letter to the both of us. for how long it took me to let things go. It was not my intention to make such a production of the emptiness between us. Playing tuba on the tombstone of a soprano to try and keep some dead singer’s perspective alive. It’s just that.... I could’ve sworn you had sung me a love song back there. And that you meant it.
But I guess some people just chew with their mouth open.
So I ate earplugs alive with my throat. Hoping they’d get lodged deep enough inside the empty spots, that I wouldn’t have to hear you leaving. So I wouldn’t have to listen to my heart keep saying, all my eggs were in a basket of red ﬂags, all my eyes to a bucket of blindfolds. and then covered with the muzzles and the gauze.
You know, I didn’t mean to speed so far and off trying to drive your nickels to the well when you were happy to let them wishes drop. But, I still show up for gentlemen practice. In the company of lead dancers, hoping, their grace will get stuck in my shoes. Is that a handsome shadow on my breath, sweet woman? Or is it a cattle call at a school of ﬁsh. Still, Dance with with me Less like a waltz for panic, and more for the way we hoped to swing. That night we took off everything and we were swinging for the fences. Don’t hold it against my love you know,
l r u H -worC -worC gn-i ta sdrib ta sdrib g n i k c o M -kcoM srab -wor ni YDDUB -EKAW ta sdrib D DLEIF -kcoM -lruH -worC g srabgni ta sdrib g n i k c o M DUB srab -EK YDDUB -EKAW DLEIF DLEIF -lruH -w t a s gni -gnikcoM You know, I wanna breathe deeper than this. I didn’t mean to look so serious. I didn’t mean to act like a ﬁlthy ﬂoor. Didn’t mean to turn us both into some cutting board. But there were knives stuck in the words where I came from. Too much time in the back of my words. I pulled knives from my back, and my words. I cut trombones from the moment you slipped away.
I know it left me looking like a knife ﬁght, lady, I know it left me feeling like a shotgun shell. You-know-I-know-I-might’ve-gone-and-lost-my-breath. But I wanna show you how I found my breath to death. It was buried under all the wind instruments hidden in your castanets. Goddamn, if you ever wanna know how it felt when you left, if you ever wanna come inside. Just knock on the spot, where I ﬁnally hit stop, playing musical chairs, with your exit signs.
YDDUB -kcoM ruH -EKAW s r a b g n i DLEIF
YDDUB w o r -EKAW t a s d r i b -lruH EIF -kcoM -worC g i ta sdrib srabgni-gnikcoM DUB srab w o r YDDUB W -EKAW t a s d r i b ruH DLEIF rC gni -kcoM rib s r a b g srabgni I’m gonna cause you a miracle, when you see the way I kept God’s image alive. FORGIVENESS.
Is for anybody, that needs a safe passage through my mind.
If I really was created in God’s image. Then when God was a boy, he wanted to grow up to be a man, a good man. And when God was a man, a good man, he started telling the truth in order to get honest responses. He’d say, “Yeeaahh, I know! I should’ve wore my cross. But I don’t want to scare the gentiles off.”
Just as there was a first instant when someone rubbed two sticks together to make a spark, there was a first time joy was felt, and a first time for sadness. For a while, new feelings were being invented all the time. Desire was born early, as was regret. When stubbornness was felt for the first time, it started a chain reaction, creating the feeling of resentment on the one hand, and alienation and lonliness on the other. It might have been a certain counterclockwise movement of the hips that marked the birth of ecstasy; a bolt of lightning that caused the first feeling of awe. Or maybe it was the body of a girl named Alma. Contrary to logic, the feeling of surprise wasn’t born immediately. It only came after people had enough time to get used to things as they were. And when enough time had passed, someone felt the first feeling of surprise, someone, somewhere else, felt the first pang of nostolgia.
It’s also true that sometimes people felt things and, because there was no word for them, they went unmentioned. The oldest emotion in the world may be that of being moved; but to describe it–just to name it–must have been like trying to catch something invisible. (Then again, the oldest feeling in the world might simply have been confu sion.) Having begun to feel, people’s desire to feel grew. They wanted to feel more, feel deeper, despite how much it sometimes hurt. People became addicted to feeling. They struggled to uncover new emotions. It’s possible this is how art was born. New kinds of joy were forged, along with new kinds of sadness: The eternal disappointment of life as it is; the relief of unexpected reprieve; the fear of dying.
Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist. There are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written, or a painting no one has ever painted, or yet describe takes place,a new feeling enters the world. And then, the heart surges, and absorbs the impact.
paradox; rage is explosive and spontaneous, one of the strongest emotions, while tender is delicate and not strong.
repetition in form and phrasing. when read aloud you are “gulping” air after each period. ready for the relief of the next, longer sentence (this could be considered the “soft season” of the poem.)
the hard season will split you through. do not worry. you will bleed water. do not worry. this is grief. your face will fall out and down your skin and there will be scorching. but do not worry. [ keep speaking the years from their hiding places.] keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you have died. [ keep the rage tender.] because the soft season will come. it will come. loud. ready. gulping. both hands in your chest. up all night. up all of the nights. to drink all damage into love.
-therapy from salt by nayyirah waheed
the short sentence use causes the reader to take a breath after each period and causes shorter, almost panicked breaths when read aloud.
this creates a literal split in the sentence.
personification, as if memories are hiding.
hyberbole to add to the personality of the â€œhard seasonâ€? that is a theme until the mention of the soft season after shift 2.
shift repetition reassurances human actions agressive terms alliteration
We Were Emergencies
(Glory, glory, hallelujah, when I lay my, my burden down. Glory, glory, hallelujah, when I lay my, my burden down. Shut up! Shut up!)
We can stick anything in to the fog y'all, make it look like a ghoost. But tonight (tonight) let's not become tragedies. We are not funeral homes with pro-pane tanks in our win-dows, lookin' like, cemeteries. Cemeteries are just the earth's way of not letting gooo. LET GOOO. Tonight. Poets. Let's turn our wrists so far backwards, the razor blades in our pencil tips can't get a good angle on all that beauty inside. STEP INTO THIS. With your airplane parts, move forward. And repeat after me with your heart. (repeat after me with your heart)
I NO LONGER NEED YOU TO FUCK ME AS HARD AS I HATED MYSELF.
Make love to me, like you know I am better than the worst thing I ever did-go slow. I'm new to this. But I have seen nearly every city from a rooftop, without jumping. I have realized that the moon, did not have to be full for us to love it. That we are not tragedies stranded here beneath it. That if our hearts really broke, every time we fell from love, I'd be able to offer you confetti by now. But hearts don't break y'alllll, they bruise and get better. We were never tragedies, we were emergencies. You call 911, tell'em I'm having a fantastic time. (tell’em I’m havin a fantastic time, go on). (We did iiiiitt.) (Why don’t you listen? God can use you, anyway, Lord, anytime. Why don’t you let go? God can use you, anyway Lord, anytime.)
What I Am Not. My brother and I used to play a game. I’d point to a chair.
THIS IS NOT A CHAIR, I’d say. Bird would point to the table.
THIS IS NOT A TABLE. THIS IS NOT A WALL, I’d say. THAT IS NOT A CEILING. We’d go on like that.
IT IS NOT RAINING OUT. MY SHOE IS NOT UNTIED. Bird would yell. I’d point to my elbow.
THIS IS NOT A SCRAPE. Bird would lift his knee.
THIS IS ALSO NOT A SCRAPE! THAT IS NOT A KETTLE! NOT A CUP! NOT A SPOON! NOT DIRTY DISHES!
We denied whole rooms, years, weathers. Once, at the peak of our shouting, Bird took a deep breath. At the top of his lungs, he shrieked:
“I! HAVE NOT! BEEN! UNHAPPY! MY WHOLE LIFE!” “But you’re only seven,” I said.
to dwell on persistently or tediously in speaking or writing 1. to acknowledge as true, just, or proper; admit: 2. to acknowledge (an opponent's victory, score, etc.) before it is officially established 3. to grant as a right or privilege.
Marvin Gaye sang the National anthem at the 1983 NBA All-Stars game.
a comparison in which an idea or a thing is compared to another thing that is quite different from it.
(clonazepam) is a benzodiazepine. Clonazepam affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced. Clonazepam is also a seizure medicine, also called an anti-epileptic drug. Klonopin is used to treat certain seizure disorders (including absence seizures or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome) in adults and children.
Giving us the hope that was left hanging in the first line.
You’ll meet someone, she’ll be who she / claims to be, and she can dance.
In referencing the 1983 NBA All-Stars game and the rescue of the National Anthem we see the poem dwell on the past, but quickly move to future:
So therefore, we know that nervousness lies in the Google search threaded through the poem.
When I’m nervous I know enough to touch and count.
There is also an understanding that things take time and practice, using counting as a means to get to a stabilized form:
By teaching us about the google search in the beginning we then know that he is adding twelve to surpass the territory of individuals we learned of earlier in the poem.
Help / plus twelve.
The poem then references this later, by saying:
“help” Google only recognizes eleven times...
Throughout this poem lie themes of idealized time, and numerals as a guides. The number theme originating at Eleven, as in:
simple past tense and past participle of sling. sling: 1. a device for hurling stones or other missiles that consists, typically, of a short strap with a long string at each end and that is operated by placing the missile in the strap, and, holding the ends of the strings in one hand, whirling the instrument around in a circle and releasing one of the strings to discharge the missile. 2. a slingshot. 3. a bandage used to suspend or support an injured part of the body, commonly a bandage suspended from the neck to support an injured arm or hand.
Stop Long Enough Mike Young When I rinse my hands I flip the light, hoping for electric conduct. Google only recognizes “help” eleven times in a row for its autocomplete. After eleven, you’re in the territory of individuals. Walking head bowed, mouth harp slung. Thank you again for checking us out. Luxury sedan from an outdated oil crisis conceded re: snow. Stars next to see emails. Some people, you’ll never be able to place who they remind you of. They make remembering off. When I’m nervous I know enough to touch and count. All my windows are a mess. Plan to be the only thing I love today or what? Ain’t got forever. One more person watching Marvin Gaye rescue the National Anthem. First somebody starts a clapalong, and then years later someone listens to a digitized analogy of that clapalong and thinks Damn, great idea. And I could say the nickname of anyone and a story to go along. Stop loving blank faced bullshit. In 1983, an NBA All-Star buys an Almond Joy before the game. Marvin Gaye tucks a handkerchief just right. Someone ignores Facebook long enough to perfect a gesture, and I’m thinking space heater in the hot tub? Klonopin? Popular bridge? Top hits for “easiest suicide” are takeout hope spiels. Stop walking without holding hands. Stars on and off. Help plus twelve. You’ll meet someone, she’ll be who she claims to be, and she can dance. Other things inside the video: Marvin’s sunglasses, the mustache of a Trailblazer. A pioneer in any field of endeavor.
caesura the caesuras play with the theme of time, delaying a start, hoping, delaying a thought, a plan. The placement of the caesuras leaves a want for more, in both the language and in the reader’s mind. The purposefulness of the caesuras placement show the intention of the writer XXXXXX
main theme points time / order everyday actions / things definition / reference to
In these sentences lie the main points of this poem. Stop loving blank / faced bullshit. Becoming an obvious point where earlier lines (After eleven, you’re in the territory / of individuals.) meet lines about to be revealed (Top hits for “easiest suicide” are takeout hope spiels). shift
This also begins to mimic in form, repeating a Google search, an on and off theme (Specifically dealing with light). A didactic Stop, and Help begin to Play together from the beginning, Stop appearing in the title and Help before the first shift mimicking what has come before, and what will come after.
In referencing everyday actions (i.e. flip the light or checking emails) Young gives the reader something they are familiar with, giving a familiar place inside the abstract language. Referencing popular websites (Facebook and Google) creates a sort of familiarity which become self aware references when he says “They make remembering / off”. In the end realizing this was a video all along, we realize he is referencing how everyone shares their everyday amongst everyone. Facebook, Google, and email connecting all sorts of people in different ways. Google saving searches, Facebook giving multiple outlets to connect, and email being a way to directly reach someone.
14 Lines From Love Letters Or Suicide Notes Doc Luben
1. Donâ€™t freak out.
2. We both know this has been coming for a long time.
3. Iâ€™ve been staying awake at night
wondering if I should tell you.
4. I bought the kind of crackers you can eat, they are in the hall cupboard.
5. Now that we have watched all the episodes of
True Blood, I do not know what else to do next.
6. I always imagined this would happen
without warning. Like suddenly, on a cliffside but this is the kind of thing where waiting for the time to be right would just mean waiting forever.
7. Iâ€™ve just been too afraid, for too long.
8. I came home on Tuesday and found all of
the chairs I own stacked in a tower in the center of my kitchen. I donâ€™t know how long they had been like that, but it can only be me that did it. Itâ€™s the kind of thing a ghost might do to prove to the living that he is still there. I am haunting my own apartment.
9. My grandmother was still alive when I was
5 years old, and she asked me to check and see if the iron was hot enough yet, and, so, I pressed my hand against it and it was red and screaming for hours. 25 years later she would still sometimes apologize in the middle of conversations, “I feel so bad about making you touch the iron,” she’d say as though it had just happened. I cannot imagine how we forgive ourselves for all the things we didn’t say until it was too late. But how else do you tell if something is hot, but to touch it?
10. I keep imagining my furniture in your apartment.
11. I wonder how many likes this will get on Facebook.
12. My dad always used to tell the same joke,
but I canâ€™t remember the punchline.
13. I was 8 years old, and it took 3 weeks,
three 8-year old weeks..imagine..to gather everything that I would need to be Batman. Rope, boomerang, a mardi gras mask with the beads cut off. I didnâ€™t have a cave near my house so I buried them all in a bundle under the ivy. For years after I tried to find that spot again. The ivy grew too fast. I searched in so many spots it seemed impossible that I had missed one. But I never found it. How can something be there, and then not be there? How do we forgive ourselves for all the things we did not become?
14. I never had the courage to buy bright
green sheets. I wanted them but thought they were too brash, even with no one to see them. I bought a set yesterday and put them on the bed. I knew you would like them.
The Bell Jar
20 A fresh fall of snow blanketed the asylum grounds—not a Christmas sprinkle, but a manhigh January deluge, the sort that snuffs out schools and offices and churches, and leaves, for a day or more, a pure, blank sheet in place of memo pads, date books and calendars. In a week, if I passed my interview with the board of directors, Philomena Guinea’s large black car would drive me west and deposit me at the wrought-iron gates of my college. The heart of winter! Massachusetts would be sunk in a marble calm. I pictured the snowflaky, Grandma Moses villages, the reaches of swampland rattling with dried cattails, the ponds where from and horn-pout dreamed in a sheath of ice, and shivering woods. But under the deceptively clean and level slate the topography was the same, and instead of San Francisco or Europe or Mars I would be learning the old landscape, brook and hill and tree. In one way it seemed a small thing, starting, after a six months’ lapse, where I had so vehemently left off. Everybody would know about me, of course. Doctor Nolan had said, quite bluntly, that a lot of people would treat me gingerly, or even avoid me, like a leper with a warning bell. My mother’s face floated to mind, a pale, reproachful moon, at her last and first visit to the asylum since my twentieth birthday. A daughter in an asylum! I had done that to her. Still, she had obviously decided to forgive me. “We’ll take up where we left off, Esther,” she had siad, with her sweet, martyr’s smile. “We’ll act as if all this were a bad dream.” A bad dream. To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream. A bad dream. I remembered everything. I remembered the cadavers and Doreen and the story of the fig tree and Marco’s diamond and the sailor on the Common and Doctor Gordon’s wall-eyed nurse and the broken thermometers and the Negro with his two kinds of beans and the twenty pounds I gained on insulin and the rock that bulged between sky and sea like a gray skull. Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind of snow, should numb and cover them. But they were part of me. They were my landscape. “A man to see you!” The smiling, snow-capped nurse poked her head in through the door and for a confused second I thought I really was back in college and
this spruce white furniture, this white view over trees and hills, an improvement on my old room’s nicked chairs and desk and outlook over the bald quad. “A man to see you!” the girl on watch had said, on the dormitory phone. What was there about us, in Belsize, so different from the girls playing bridge and gossiping and studying in the college to which I would return? Those girls, too, sat under bell jars of a sort. “Come in!” I called, and Buddy Willard, khaki cap in hand, stepped into the room. “Well, Esther.” We stood there, looking at each other. I waited for a touch of emotion, the faintest glow. Nothing. Nothing but great, amiable boredom. Buddy’s khaki-jacketed shape seemed small and unrelated to me as the brown posts he had stood against that day a year ago, at the bottom of the ski run. “How did you get here?” I asked finally. “My mother’s car.” “In all this snow?” “Well,” Buddy grinned, “I’m stuck outside in a drift. The hill was too much for me. Is there anyplace I can borrow a shovel?” “We can get a shovel from one of the groundsmen.” “Good.” Buddy turned to go. “Wait, I’ll come and help you.” Buddy looked at me then, and in his eyes I saw a flicker of strangeness—the same compound of curiosity and wariness I had seen in the eyes of the Christian Scientist and my old English teacher and the Unitarian minister who used to visit me. “Oh, Buddy,” I laughed. “I’m all right.” “Oh, I know, I know, Esther,” said Buddy hastily. “It’s you who oughtn’t dig out cars, Buddy. Not me.” And Buddy did let me do most of the work. The car had skidded on the glassy hill up to the asylum and backed, with one wheel over the rim of the drive, into a steep drift. The sun, emerged from its gray shrouds of cloud, shone with a summer brilliance on the untouched slopes. Pausing in my work to overlook that pristine expanse, I felt the same profound thrill it gives me to see trees and grassland waisthigh under flood water—as if the usual order of the world has shifted slightly, and entered a new phase. I was grateful for the car and the snowdrift. It kept Buddy from asking me what I knew he was going to ask, and what he finally did ask, in a low, nervous voice, at the Belsize afternoon tea. DeeDee was eyeing us like an envious cat over the rim of her teacup. After Joan’s death, DeeDee had been moved to Wymark for a while, but now she was among us once more.
“Wait, I’ll come and help you.” Buddy looked at me then, and in his eyes I saw a flicker of strangeness—the same compound of curiosity and wariness I had seen in the eyes of the Christian Scientist and my old English teacher and the Unitarian minister who used to visit me. “Oh, Buddy,” I laughed. “I’m all right.” “Oh, I know, I know, Esther,” said Buddy hastily. “It’s you who oughtn’t dig out cars, Buddy. Not me.” And Buddy did let me do most of the work. The car had skidded on the glassy hill up to the asylum and backed, with one wheel over the rim of the drive, into a steep drift. The sun, emerged from its gray shrouds of cloud, shone with a summer brilliance on the untouched slopes. Pausing in my work to overlook that pristine expanse, I felt the same profound thrill it gives me to see trees and grassland waist-high under flood water—as if the usual order of the world has shifted slightly, and entered a new phase. I was grateful for the car and the snowdrift. It kept Buddy from asking me what I knew he was going to ask, and what he finally did ask, in a low, nervous voice, at the Belsize afternoon tea. DeeDee was eyeing us like an envious cat over the rim of her teacup. After Joan’s death, DeeDee had been moved to Wymark for a while, but now she was among us once more. “I’ve been wondering . . .” Buddy set his cup in the saucer with an awkward clatter. “What have you been wondering?” “I’ve been wondering . . . I mean, I thought you might be able to tell me something.” Buddy met my eyes and I saw, for the first time, how he had changed. Instead of the old, sure smile that flashed easily and frequently as a photographer’s bulb, his face was grave, even tentative—the face of a man who often does not get what he wants. “I’ll tell you if I can, Buddy.” “Do you think there’s something in me that drives women crazy?” I couldn’t help myself, I burst out laughing— maybe because of the seriousness of Buddy’s face and the common meaning of the word “crazy” in a sentence like that. “I mean,” Buddy pushed on, “I dated Jaon, and then you, and first you . . . went, and then Joan . . .” With one finger I nudged a cake crumb into a drop of wet, brown tea. “Of course you didn’t do it!” I heard Doctor Nolan say. I had come to her about Joan, and it was the only time I remember her sound-
ing angry. “Nobody did it. She did it.” And then Doctor Nolan tol dme how the best of psychiatrists have suicides among their patients, and how they, if anybody, should be held responsible, but how they, on the contrary, do not hold themselves responsible . . . “You had nothing to do with us, Buddy.” “You’re sure?” “Absolutely.” “Well,” Buddy breathed. “I’m glad of that.” And he drained his tea like a tonic of medicine. “I hear you’re leaving us.” I fell into step beside Valerie in the little, nurse-supervised group. “Only if the doctors say yes. I have my interview tomorrow.” The packed snow creaked underfoot, and everywhere I could hear a musical trickle and drip as the noon sun thawed icicles and snow crusts that would glaze again before nightfall. The shadows of the massed black pines were lavender in that bright light, and I walked with Valerie awhile, down the familiar labyrinth of shoveled asylum paths. Doctors and nurses and patients passing on adjoining paths seemed to be moving on casters, cut off at the waist by the piled snow. “Interviews!” Valerie snorted. “They’re nothing! If they’re going to let you out, they let you out.” “I hope so.” In front of Caplan I said good-bye to Valerie’s calm, snow-maiden face behind which so little, bad or good, could happen, and walked on alone, my breath coming in white puffs even in that sun-filled air. Valerie’s last, cheerful cry had been, “So long! Be seeing you.” “Not if I know it,” I thought. But I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure at all. How did I know that someday—at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere—the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again? And hadn’t Buddy said, as if to revenge himself for digging out the car and his having to stand by, “I wonder who you’ll marry now, Esther.” “What?” I’d said, shoveling snow up onto a mound of blinking against the stinging back shower of loose flakes. “I wonder who you’ll marry now, Esther. Now you’ve been,” and Buddy’s gesture encompassed the hill, the pines and the severe, son-gabled buildings breaking up the rolling landscape, “here.” And of course I didn’t know who would marry me now that I’d been where I had been. I didn’t know at all.
But I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure at all. How did I know that someday—at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere—the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn’t descend again? And hadn’t Buddy said, as if to revenge himself for digging out the car and his having to stand by, “I wonder who you’ll marry now, Esther.” “What?” I’d said, shoveling snow up onto a mound of blinking against the stinging back shower of loose flakes. “I wonder who you’ll marry now, Esther. Now you’ve been,” and Buddy’s gesture encompassed the hill, the pines and the severe, son-gabled buildings breaking up the rolling landscape, “here.” And of course I didn’t know who would marry me now that I’d been where I had been. I didn’t know at all. “I have a bill here, Irwin.” I spoke quietly into the mouthpiece of the asylum pay phone in the main hall of the administration building. At first I suspected the operator, at her switchboard, might be listening, but she just went on plugging and unplugging her little tubes without batting an eye. “Yes,” Irwin said. “It’s a bill for twenty dollars for emergency attention on a certain date in December and a checkup a week thereafter.” “Yes,” Irwin said. “The hospital says they are sending me the bill because there was no answer to the bill they sent you.” “All right, all right, I’m writing a check now. I’m writing them a blank check.” Irwin’s voice altered subtly;. “When am I going to see you?” “Do you really want to know?” “Very much.” “Never,” I said, and hung up with a resolute click. I wondered, briefly, if Irwin would send his check to the hospital after that, and then I thought, “Of course he will, he’s a mathematics professor—he won’t want to leave any loose ends.” I felt unaccountably weak-kneed and relieved. Irwin’s voice had meant nothing to me. This was the first time, since our first and last meeting, that I had spoken with him and, I was reasonably sure, it would be the last. Irwin had absolutely no way of getting in touch with me, except by going to Nurse Kennedy’s flat, and after Joan’s death Nurse Kennedy had moved somewhere else and left no trace. I was perfectly free. Joan’s parents invited me to the funeral. I had been, Mrs. Gilling said, one of Joan’s best friends. “You don’t have to go, you know,” Doctor Nolan told me. “You can always write and say it would be better not to.” “I’ll go,” I said, and I did go, and all during the simple funeral service I wondered what I thought I was burying. At the altar the coffin loomed in its snow pallor of flowers—the black shadow of something that wasn’t there. The faces in the pews around me were waxen with candlelight, and pine boughs, left over from Christmas, sent up sepulchral incense in the cold air. Beside me, Jody’s cheeks bloomed like good apples, and here and there in the little congregation I recognized other faces of other girls from college and my home town who had known Joan. DeeDee and Nurse Kennedy bent their kerchiefed heads in a from pew. Then, behind the coffin and the flowers and the face of the minister and the faces of the mourners, I saw the rolling lawns of our town cemetery, knee-deep in snow now, with the tombstones rising out of it like smokeless chimneys. There would be a black, six-foot-deep gap hacked in the hard ground. That shadow would marry this shadow, and the peculiar, yellowish soil of our locality seal the wound in the whiteness, and yet another snowfall erase the traces of newness in Joan’s grave. I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.
The doctors were having their weekly board meeting—old business, new business, admissions, dismissals and interviews. Leafing blindly through a tatty National Geographic in the asylum library, I waited my turn. Patients, with accompanying nurses, made their rounds of the stocked shelves, conversing, in low tones, with the asylum librarian, an alumna of the asylum herself. Glancing at her—myopic, spinsterish, effaced—I wondered how she knew she had graduated at ll, and, unlike her clients, was whole and well. “Don’t be scared,” Doctor Nolan had said. “I’ll be there, and the rest of the doctors you know, and some visitors, and Doctor Vining, the head of all doctors, will ask you a few questions, and then you can go.” But in spite of Doctor Nolan’s reassurances, I was scared to death. I had hoped, at my departure, I would feel sure and knowledgeable about everything that lay ahead—after all, I had been “analyzed.” Instead, all I could see were question marks. I kept shooting impatient glances at the closed boardroom door. My stocking seams were straight, my black shoes cracked, but polished, and my red wool suit flamboyant as my plans. Something old, something new . . . . But I wasn’t getting married. There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice—patched, retreaded and approved for the road, I was trying to think of an appropriate one when Doctor Nolan appeared form nowhere and touched me on the shoulder. “All right, Esther.” I rose and followed her to the open door. Pausing, for a brief breath, on the threshold, I saw the silver-haired doctor who had told me about the rivers and the Pilgrims on my first day, and the pocked, cadaverous face of Miss Huey, and eyes I thought I had recognized over white masks. The eyes and faces all turned themselves toward me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.
Would you believe in what you believe in if you were the only one who believed it? Kanye West
Nothing Like The First Time Watsky
The first time I ate avocado, was so amazing, that I came and that was the first time that I came, so the only thing I can compare it to is the taste of avocado pretty much the same. the first time I got high I ran into my friends bedroom and I hung onto each corner of the mattress because I knew, that I would be flung into space if I didn't hold tight two years before that I went to my first concert, I was high all night and the first time someone clap for me on stage I floated three inches off the pavement walking home. Only one girl has ever really wrapped my stomach into pretzels, She didn't give me butterflies she gave me pterodactyls, I'm talking terrible internal bruising And the first time I kissed her was like the first time I saw fireworks which was like the sky first kissing me in the eyeballs–in high school the self defense counselor taught us that we can defend ourselves against a rapist by sticking a thumb into the corner of his eye socket and popping it out like a grape–babe, for the chance to be with you I would pop my own eyeballs out and say, “here, I only have eyes for you,” And so everywhere you went you carry me around in your pocket, and every time you pulled out a handful of loose change I get to wink at you and a thousand miles away you would think of how charming I am me weaving blindly through LA traffic you in some bullshit other place. But you shouldn't leave first times until the end of summer because you went off to college, years passed I realized I was the only one calling anymore and that first kiss hardened into the last. My love, retarded preserved a pterodactyl in a tar pit, the music over before it started. A lost guitar pick, I stopped trying to match it searching for that magical attachment, because marriages are not fucking Disney. Yo–bad marriages are sand castles. Good marriages are mcdonald's hamburgers; you can leave a good marriage on a plate in the sun for 50 years and it stays pretty much the same. The key, I hear, is to fight routine, to make the smallest moments gleam and mean something and if you ever feel yourself fading face paint your old and aging jaded creased up cheeks gold plated with a jar of first time and if you need a youthful spruce up just grab a tube of that noob juice and lube up and if you're hurting just rub the good stuff where you're burning, but a word of warning– first time tends to make the bad times worse and there's the rub it doesn't make things better, just louder, amplifies a murmur er er great is greater greater is greaterer and broke his broker, bone is.. boner it's not a perfect formula but the first time that I kissed you the door of your crappy civic already half open you said, “I'm glad you did that,” and I have a feeling that for you it wasn't a first time it was this one time but I will remember that moment for the rest of my life if I have to arm wrestle all timers for it and if I ever get a chance to kiss you again, you know a second time, I'm going to stick my tongue out and lick you right across your face, because I've already kissed you but I've never liked you and you'll say, “Uck, why did you do that?” and I’ll say, “Hey sexy, did someone slap you across the face with a banana slug or is that a big shiny trail of first time on your cheek? Maybe we can go back to my place and get some first time on the sheets. It's worth it, after all there's nothing like the first time–the first time is always perfect
hyperbole repetition metaphor A
excerpt from: milk and honey rupi kaur
he only whispers i love you as he slips his hands down the waistband of your pants this is where you must understand the difference between want and need you may want that boy but you certainly donâ€™t need him
consonance / assonance / alliteration
didactic epizeuxis definition / reference to
excerpt from: milk and honey rupi kaur
you treat them like they have a heart like yours but not everyone can be as soft and as tender you donâ€™t see the person they are you see the person they have the potential to be you give and give till they pull everything otu of you and leave you empty
i had to leave i was tired of allowing you to make me feel anything less than whole
you were the most beautiful thing i’d ever felt till now. and i was convinced you’d remain the most beautiful thing i’d ever feel. do you know how limiting that is. to think at such a ripe youn age i’d experienced the most exhilarating person i’d ever meet. how i’d spend the rest of my life just settling. to think i’d tasted the rawest form of honey and everything else would be refined and synthetic. that nothing beyond this point would add up. that all the years beyond me could not combine themselves to be sweeter than you. -falsehood
excerpt from: milk and honey rupi kaur
i am confident i am over you. so much that some mornings i wake up with a smile on my face and my hands pressed together thanking the universe for pulling you out of me. thank god i cry. thank god you left. i would not be the empire i am today if you had stayed. but then. there are some nights i imagine what i might do if you showed up. how if youw alked into the room this very second every awful thing you’ve ever done would be tossed out the closest window and all the love would rise up again. it would pour through my eyes as if it never really left in the first place. as if it’s been practicing how to stay silent so long only so it could be this loud on your arrival. can someone explain that. how even when the love leaves. it doesn’t leave. how even when i am so past you. i am so helplessly brought back to you.
he isn’t coming back whispered my head he has to sobbed my heart -wilting
excerpt from: milk and honey rupi kaur
do not bother holding on to that thing that does not want you -you cannot make it stay
you must enter a relationship with yourself before anyone else
accept that you deserve more than painful love life is moving the healthiest thing for your heart is to move with it
excerpt from: milk and honey rupi kaur
it is part of the human experience to feel pain do not be afraid open yourself to it -evolving
lonliness is a sign you are in desperate need of yourself
you are in the habit of co-depending on people to make up for what you think you lack who tricked you into believing another person was meant to complete you when the most they can do is complement
do not look for healing at the feet of those who broke you
excerpt from: milk and honey rupi kaur
if you were born with the weakness to fall you were born with the strength to rise
perhaps the saddest of all are those who live waiting for someone theyâ€™re not sure exists -7 billion people
Anthracite Sayeed Jones A voice mistook for stone, jagged black fist thrown miles through space, through doors of dark matter. Heard you crack open the field’s skull where you landed. Halo of smoke ruined the sky and you were a body now naked and bruised in the cratered cotton. Could have been a meteorite except for those strip-mined eyes, each a point of fossilized night. Bringing water and a blanket, I asked, “Which of your lives is this, third or fifth?” Your answer, blues a breeze to soak my clothes in tears. With my palm pressed to your lips, hush. When they hear you, they will want you. Beware of how they want you; in this town everything born black also burns.
caesura the caesuras play with the theme of time, delaying a start, hoping, delaying a thought, a plan. The placement of the caesuras leaves a want for more, in both the language and in the readerâ€™s mind. The purposefulness of the caesuras placement show the intention of the writer XXXXXX
dark / blackness imagery consonance (c / k) definition / reference to
Possibly about a babyâ€™s birth during slavery on cotton fields. and you were a body now Bringing water and a blanket everything born black
Like Lilly Like Wilson Taylor Mali
I’m writing the poem that will change the world, and it’s Lilly Wilson at my ofﬁce door. Lilly Wilson, the recovering like addict, the worst I’ve ever seen. So, like, bad that the entire eighth grade started calling her Like Lilly Like Wilson Like. Until I declared my classroom a Like-Free Zone, and she could not speak for days. But when she ﬁnally did, it was to say, Mr. Mali, this is...so hard. Now I have to think before I ... say anything. Imagine that, Lilly. It’s for your own good. Even if you don’t like ... it. I’m writing the poem that will change the world, and it’s Lilly Wilson at my ofﬁce door. Lilly is writing a research paper fo rme about how homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children. So I’m writing the poem that will change the world, and it’s Like Lilly Wilson at my ofﬁce door. She’s having trouble ﬁnding sources, which is to say, ones that back her up. They all argue in favor of what I thought I was against. And it took four years of college, three years of graduate school, and every incidental teaching experience I have ever had to let out only,
Well, that’s a really interesting problem, Lilly. But what do you propose to do about it? That’s what I want to know. And the eighth-grade mind is a beautiful thing; LIke a new-born baby’s face, you can often see it change before your very eyes. I can’t beieve I’m saying this, Mr. Mali, but I think I’d like to switch sides. And I want to tell her to do more than just believe it, but to enjoy it! That changing your mind is one of the best ways of ﬁnding out whether or not you still have one. Or even that minds are like parachutes, that it doesn’t matter what you pack them with so long as they open at the right time. O God, Lilly, I want to say, you make me feel like a teacher, and whoc ould ask to feel more than that? I want to say all this but manage only, Lilly, I am like so impressed with you! So I ﬁnally taught somebody something, namely, how to change her mind. And learned in the process that if I ever change the world, it’s going to be one eighth grader at a time.
The Impotence Of Proofreading
Has this ever happened to you? You work very horde on a paper for English clash and still get a glow raid (like a D or even a D=) and all because you are the liverwurst spoiler in the whale wide world. Yes, proofreading your peppers is a matter of the utmost impotence. This is a problem that affects manly, manly students. I myself was such a bed spiller once upon a term that my English torturer in my sophomoric year, Mrs. Myth, said I would never get into a good colleague. And that’s all I wanted, just to get into a good colleague. Not just anal community colleague– because I’m not the kind of guy who would be happy at just anal community colleague. I need to be challenged, menstrually. I need a place that can offer me intellectual simulation. I know this probably makes me sound like a stereo, but I really felt I could get into an ivory legal colleague. So if I did not improvement, gone would be my dream of going to Harvard, Jail, or Prison (in Prison, New Jersey). So I got myself a spell checker and figured I was on Sleazy Street. But there are several missed aches that a spell chukker can’t can’t catch catch. For instant, if you accidentally leave out word, your spell exchequer won’t put it in you. And God for billing purposes only you shoudl have serial problems with Tori Spelling, your spell Chekhov might replace a word with one you had absolutey no detention of using. Because what do you want it t douche? It only does what you tell it to douche. You’re the one sitting in front of the computer scream with your hand on the mouth going clit, clit, clit. It just goes to show you how embargo one careless little clit of the mouth can be. Which reminds me of this one time during my Junior Mint. The teacher took teh essay I had written on A Sale of Two Titties– I am cereal–and she read it out loud in front of all my assmates. It was the most humidifying experiene of my life, being laughed at like that pubically. So do yourself a flavor an follow these two Pisces of advice: One: There is no prostitute for careful editing, no prostitute whatsoever. And three: When it comes to proofreading, the red penis your friend.
extended met XXXXXX
Variations on the Word Love Margaret Atwood
This is a word we use to plug holes with. It's the right size for those warm blanks in speech, for those red heartshaped vacancies on the page that look nothing like real hearts. Add lace and you can sell Love is the filler word for when we don’t know what it. We insert it also in the one empty to say. space on the printed form that comes with no instructions. There are whole magazines with not much in them but the word love, you can rub it all over your body and you can cook with it too. How do we know it isn't what goes on at the cool debaucheries of slugs under damp pieces of cardboard? As for the weedLove is the cure-all, do-all. Love can do anything, seedlings nosing their tough snouts up and be for anyone. It is a product, something to sell. among the lettuces, they shout it. Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising their glittering knives in salute.
Then there's the two of us. This word is far too short for us, it has only four letters, too sparse to fill those deep bare vacuums between the stars Love is an intimate bond between persons. that press on us with their deafness. It's not love we don't wish to fall into, but that fear. This word is not enough but it will have to do. It's a single vowel in this metallic silence, a mouth that says O again and again in wonder and pain, a breath, a finger grip on a cliffside. You can Love is a choice. hold on or let go.
These are repetition in multiple ways. Both have the basic form of using an adjective at the end of a line and employing enjambment. The theme between these two is synonymous, love is a space filler. it “plugs” and is “insert[ed]”.
consonance (th) (t) (s / c)
repetition slant rhyme imagery hyperbole litotes
r e t p a h c e v fi f l o o w a " n i n g r w i v o s ' e n o f o m "a roo
I had come at last, in the course of this rambling, to the shelves which hold books by the living; by women and by men; for there are almost as many books written by women now as by man. Or if that is not yet quite true, if the male is still the voluble sex, it is certainly true that women no longer write novels solely. There are Jane Harrison’s books on Greek archaeology; Vernon Lee’s books on aesthetics; Gertrude Bell’s books on Persia. There are books on all sorts of subjects which a generation ago no woman could have touched. There are poems and plays and criticism; there are histories and biographies, books of travel and books of scholarship and research; there are even a few philosophies and books about science and economics. And though novels predominate, novels themselves may very well have changed from association with books of a different feather. The natural simplicity, the epic age of women’s writing, may have gone. Reading and criticism may have given her a wider range, a greater subtlety. The impulse towards autobiography may be spent. She may be beginning to use writing as an art, not as a method of self-expression. Among these new novels one might find an answer to several such questions. I took down one of them at random. It stood at the very end of the shelf, was called Life’s Adventure, or some such title, by Mary Carmichael, and was published in this very month of October. It seems to be her first book, I said to myself, but one must read it as if it were the last volume in a fairly long series, continuing all those other books that I have been glanceng at—Lady Winchilsea’s poems and Aphra Behn’s plays and the novels of the four great novelists. For books continue each other, in spite of our habit of judging them separately. And I must also consider her—this unknown woman—as the descendant of all those other women whose circumstances I have been glancing at and see what she inherits of their characteristics and restrictions. So, with a sig, because novels so often provide an anodyne and not an antidote, glide one into torpid slumbers instead of rousing one with a burning brand, I settled down with a notebook and a pencil to make what I could of Mary Carmicheael’s first novel, Life’s Adventure. To begin with, I ran my eye up and down the page. I am going to get the hang of her sentences first, I said, before I load my memory up with blue eyes and brown and the relationship that there may be between Chloe and Roger. There will be time for that when I have decided whether she has a pen in her hand or a pickaxe. So I tried a sentence or two on my tongue. Soon it was obvious that something was not quite in order. The smooth gliding of sentence after sentence was interrupted. Something tore, something scratched; a single word here and there flashed its torch in my eyes. She was “unhanding” herself as they say in the old plays. She is like a person striking ab match that will not light, I thought. But why, I asked her as if she were present, are Jane Austen’s sentences not of the right shape for you? Must they all be scrapped because Emma and Mrs. Woodhouse are dead? Alas, I sighed, that it should be so. For while Jane Austen breaks form melody to melody as Mozart form song to song, to read this writing was like being out at sea in an open boat. Up one went, down one sank. This terseness, this short-windedness, might mean that she was afraid of something; afraid of being called “sentimental” perhaps; or she remembers that women’s writing has been called flowery and so provides a superfluity of thorns; but until I have read a scene with some car, I cannot be sure whether she is being herself or some one else. At any rate, she does not lower one’s vitality, I thought, reading more carefully. But she is heaping up too many facts. She will not be able to use half of them in a book of this size. (It was about half the length of Jane Eyre.) However, by some means or other she succeeded in getting us all—Roger, Chloe, Olivia, Tony and Mr. Bigham—in a canoe up the river. Wait a moment, I said, leaning back in my chair, I must consider the whole thing more carefully before I go any further.
I am almost sure, I said to myself, that Mary Carmichael is playing a trick on us. For I feel as one feels on a switchback railway when the car, instead of sinking, as one has been led to expect, swerves up again. Mary is tampering with the expected sequence. First she broke the sentence; now she has broken the sequence. Very well, she has every right to do both these things if she does them not for the sake of breaking, but for the sake of creating. Which of the two it is I cannot be sure until she has faced herself with a situation. I will give her every liberty, I said, to choose what that situation shall be; she shall make it of tin cans and old kettles if she likes; but she must convince me that she believes it to be a situation; and then when she has made it she must face it. She must jump. And, determined to do my duty by her as a reader if she would do her duty by me as writer, I turned the page and read...I am sorry to break off so abruptly. Are there no men present? Do you promise me that behind that red curtain over there the figure of Sir Chartres Biron is not concealed? We are all women, you assure me? Then I may tell you that the very n words I read were these—“Chloe liked Olivia...” Do not start. Do not blush. Let us admit in the privacy of our own society that these things sometimes happen. Sometimes women do like women. “Chloe liked Olivia,” I read. And then it struck me how immense a change was there. Chloe liked Olivia perhaps for the first time in literature. Cleopatra did not like Octavia. And how completely Antony and Cleopatra would have been altered had she done so! As it is, I thought, letting my mind, I am afraid, wander a little from Life’s Adventure, the whole thing is simplifed, conventionalised, if one dared say it, absurdly. Cleopatra’s only feeling about Octavia was one of jealousy. Is she taller than I am? How does she do her hair? The play, perhaps, required no more. But how interesting it would have been if the relationship between the two women had been more complicated. All these relationships between women, I thought, rapidly recalling the splendid gallery of fictitious women, are too simple. So much has been left out, unattempted. And I tried to remember any case in the course of my reading where two women are represented as friends. There is an attempt at it in Diana of the Crossways. They are confidantes, of course, in Racine and the Greek tragedies. They are now and then mothers and daughters. But almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but only seen in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that; and how little can a man know even of that when he observes it through the black or rosy spectacles which sex puts upon his nose. Hence, perhaps, the peculiar nature of woman in fiction; the astonishing extremes of her beauty and horror; her alternations between heavenly goodness and hellish depravity—for son lover would see her as his love rose or sank, was prosperous or unhappy. This is not so true of the nineteenth-century novelists, of course. Woman becomes much more various and complicated there. Indeed it was the desire to write about women perhaps that led men by degrees to abandon the poetic drama which, with its violence, could make so little use of them, and to devise the novel as a more fitting receptacle. Even so it remains obvious, even in the writing of Proust, that a man is terribly hampered and partial in his knowledge of women, as a woman in her knowledge of men. Also, I continued, looking down at the page again, it is becoming evident that women, like men, have other interests besides the perennial interests of domesticity. “Chloe liked Olivia. They shared a laboratory together. . . .” I read on and discovered that these two young women were engaged in mincing liver, which is, it seems, a cure for pernicious anaemia: although one of them was married and had-I think I am right in stating-two small children. Now all that, of course, has had to be left out, and thus the splendid portrait of the fictitious woman is much too simple and much too monotonous. Suppose, for instance, that men were only represented in literature as the lovers of women, and were never the friends of men, soldiers, thinkers, dreamers; how few parts in the plays of Shakespeare could be allotted to them; how literature would suffer! We might perhaps have most of Othello; and a good deal of Antony; but no Caesar, no Brutus, no Hamlet, no Lear, no Jaques— literature would be incredibly impoverished, as indeed literature is impoverished beyond our counting by the doors that have been shut upon women. Married against their will, kept in one room, and to one occupation, how could a dramatist give a full or interesting or truthful account of them? Love was the only possible interpreter. The poet was forced to be passionate or bitter, unless indeed he chose to “hate women,” which meant more often than not that he was unattractive to them.
Now if Chloe likes Olivia and they share a laboratory, which of itself will make their friendship more varied and lasting because it will be less personal; if Mary Carmichael knows how to write, and I was beginning to enjoy some quality in her style; if she has a room to herself, of which I am not quite sure; if she has five hundred a year of her own—but that remains to be proved—then I think that something of great importance has happened. For if Chloe likes Olivia and Mary Carmichael knows how to express it she will light a torch in that vast chamber where nobody has yet been. It is all half light sand profound shadow slike this serpentine caves where one goes with a candle peering up and down, not knowing where one is stepping. And I began to read the book again, and read how Chloe watches dOlivia put a jar on a shelf and say how it was time to go home to her children. That is a sight that has never been seen since the world began, I explained. And I watched too, very curiously. For I wanted to see how Mary Carmichael set to work to catch those unrecorded gestures, those unsaid or half-said words, which form themselves, no more palpably than the shadow sof moths on the ceiling, when women are alone, unlit by the capricious and coloured light of the other sex. She will need to hold her breath, I said, reading on, if she is to do it; for women are so suspicious of any interest that has not some obvious motive behind it, so terribly accustomed to concealment and suppression, that they are off at the flicker of an eye turned observingly in their direction. The only way for you to do it, I thought, addressing Mary Carmichael as if she were there, would be to talk of something else, looking steadily out of the window, and thus note, not with a pencil in a notebook, but in the shortest of shorthand, in words that are hardly syllabled yet, what happens when Olivia— this organism that has been under the shadow of the rock these million years—feels the light fall on it, and sees coming her way a piece of strange food—knowledge, adventure, art. And she reaches out for it, I thought, again raising my eyes from the page, and has to devise some entirely new combination of her resources, so highly developed for other purposes, so as to absorb the new into the old without disturbing the infinitely intricate and elaborate balance of the whole. But, alas, I had done what I had determined not to do; I had slipped unthinkingly into praise of my own sex. “Highly developed”—“infinitely intricate”—sucha re undeniably terms of praise, and to praise one’s own sex is always suspect, often silly; moreover, in this case, how could one justify it? One could not go to the map and say Columbus discovered America and Columbus was a woman; or take an apple and remark, Newton discovered the laws of gravitation and Newton was woman; or look into he sky and say airplanes are flying overhead and aero planes were invented by women. There is no mark on the wall to measure the precise height of women. There are no yard measures, neatly divided into the fractions of an inch, that one can lay agains the qualities of a good mother or the devotion of a daughter, or the fidelity of a sister, or the capacity of housekeeper. Few women even now have been graded at the universities; the great trials of the professions, army and navy, trade, politics and diplomacy have hardly tested them. They remain even at this moment almost unclassified. But if I want to know all that a human being can tell me about Sir Hawley Butts, for instance, I have only to open Burke or Debrett and I shall find that he took such and such a degree; owns a hall; has an heir; was Secretary to a Board; represented Great Britain in Canada; and has received a certain number of degrees, offices, medals and other distinctions by which his merits are stamped upon him indelibly. Only Providence can know more about Sir Hawley Butts than that. When, therefore, I say “highly developed,” “infinitely intricate,” of women, I am unable to verify my words either in Whitaker, Debrett or the University Calendar. In this predicament what can I do? And I looked at the bookcase again. There were the biographies: Johnson and Goethe and Carlyle and Sterne and Cowper and Shelley and Voltaire and Browning and many others. And I began thinking of all those great men who have for one reason or another admired, sought out, lived with, confided in, made love to, written of, trusted in, and shown what can only be describe as some need of and dependence upon certain persons of the opposite sex. That all these relationships were absolutely Platonic I would not affirm, and Sir William Johnson Hicks would probably deny. But we should wrong these illustrious men very greatly if we insisted that they got nothing from these alliances but comfort, flattery and the pleasures of the body. What they got, it is obvious, was something that their own sex was unable to supply; and it would not be rash, perhaps, to define it further, without quoting the doubtless rhapsodical words of the poets, as some stimulus, some renewal of creative power which is in the gift only of the opposite sex to bestow. He would open the door of drawing-room or nursery, I thought, and find her among her children perhaps, or with a piece of embroidery on her knee—at any rate, the centre of some different order and system of life, and the contrast between this world and his own, which might be the law courts or the House of Commons, would at once refresh and invigorate; and there would follow, even in the simplest talk, such a natural difference of opinion that the dried ideas in him would be fertilized anew; and the sight of her creating in a different medium from his own would so quicken his creative power that insensibly his sterile mind would begin to plot again, and he would find the phrase or the scene which was lacking when he put on his hat to visit her. Every Johnson has this Thrale, and holds fast to her for some
such reasons as these, and when the Thrale marries her Italian music master Johnson goes half mad with rage and disgust, not merely that he will miss his pleasant evenings at Streatham, but that the light of his life will be “as if gone out.” And without being Dr. Johnson or Goethe or Varlyle or Voltaire, one may feel, though very differently from the power of this highly developed creative faculty among women. One goes into the room— but the resources of the English language would be much put to the stretch, and whole flights of words would need to wing their way illegitimately into existence before a woman could say what happens when she goes into a room. The rooms differ so completely; they are calm or thunderous; open on to the sea, or, on the contrary, give on to a prison yard; are hung with washing; ora live with opals and silks; are hard as horsehair or soft as feathers—one has only to go into any room in any street for the whole of that extremely complex force of femininity to fly in one’s face. how should it be otherwise? For women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harshness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics. But this creative power differs greatly from the creative power of men. And one must conclude that it would be a thousand pitties if it were hindered or wasted, for it was won by centuries of the most drastic discipline, and there is nothing to take its place. It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if the two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only? Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities? For we have too much likeness as it is, and if an explorer should come back and bring word of other sexes looking through the branches of other trees at other skies, nothing would be of greater service to humanity; and we should have the immense pleasure into the bargain of watching Professor X rush for his measuring-rods to prove himself “superior.” Mary Carmichael, I thought still hovering at a little distance above the page, will have her work cut out for her merely as an observer. I am afraid indeed that she will be tempted to become what I think the less interesting branch of the species—the naturalist-novelist, and not the contemplative. There re so many new facts for her to observe. She will not need to limit herself any longer to the respectable houses of the upper middle classes. She will go without kindness or condescension, but in the spirit of fellowship into those small, scented rooms where sit the courtesan, the harlot and the lady with the pug dog. There they still sit in the rough and ready-made clothes that the male writer has had perforce to clap upon their shoulders. But Mary Carmichael will have out her scissors and fit them close to every hollow and angle. It will be a curious sight, when it comes, to see these women as they are, but we must wait a little for Mary Carmichael will still be encumbered with that self-consciousness in the presence of “sin" which is the legacy of our sexual barbarity. She will still wear the shoddy old fetters of class on her feet. However, the majority of women are neither harlot nor courtesans; nor do they sit clasping pug dogs to dusty velvet all through the summer afternoon. But what do they do then? and there came to my mind’s eye one of those long streets somewhere south of the river whose infinite rows are innumerable populated. With the eye of the imagination I saw a very ancient lady crossing the street on the arm of a middle-aged woman, her daughter, perhaps, both so respectably booted and furred that their dressing in the afternoon must be a ritual, and the clothes themselves put away in cupboards with camphor, year after year, throughout the summer months. They cross the road when the lamps are being lit (for the dusk is their favourite hour), as they must have done year after year. The elder is close on eighty; but if one asked her what her life has meant to her, she would say that she remembered the streets lit for the battle of Balaclava, or had heard the gun fire in Hyde Park for the birth of King Edward the Seventh. And if one asked her, longing to pin down the moment with date and season, but what were you doing on the fifth of April 1868, or the second of November 1875, she would look vague and say that she could remember nothing. For all the dinners are cooked; the plates and cups washed; the children set to school and gone out into the world. Nothing remains of it all. All has vanished. No biography or history has a word to say about it. And the novels, without meaning to, inevitably lie. All these infinitely obscure lives remain to be recorded, I said, addressing Mary Carmichael as if she were present; and went on in thought through the streets of London feeling in imagination the pressure of dumbness, the accumulation of unrecorded life, whether from the women at the street corners with their arms akimbo, and the rings embedded in their fat swollen fingers, talking with gesticulation like the swing of Shakespeare’s words; or from the violet-sellers and match-sellers and old crones stationed under doorways; or from drifting girls whose faces, like waves in the sun and cloud, signal the coming of men and women and the flickering lights of shop windows. All that you will have to explore, I said to Mary Carmichael, holding your torch firm in your hand. Above all, you must illumine your own soul with its profundities and its shallows, and its vanities and its generosities, and say what your beauty mans to you or your plainness, and what is your relation to the ever changing and turning world of gloves and shoes and stuffs
swaying up and down among the faint scents that come through chemists’ bottles down arcades of dress material over a floor of pseudo-marble. For in imagination I had gone into a shop; it was laid with black and white paving; it was hung, astonishingly beautifully, with coloured ribbons. Mary Carmichael might well have a look at that in passing, I thought, for it is a sight that would lend itself to the pen as fittingly as any snowy peak or rocky gorge in the Andes. And there is the girl behind the counter too—I would as soon have her true history as the hundred and fiftieth life of Napoleon or seventieth study of Keats and his use of Miltonic inversion which old Professor Z and his like are now inditing. And then I went on very warily on the very tips of my toes (so cowardly am I, so afraid of the lash that was once almost laid on my own shoulders), to murmurr that she should also learn to laugh, without bitterness, at the vanities—say rather at the peculiarities, for it is a less offensive word—of the other sex. For there is a spot the size of a shilling at the back of the head which one can never see for oneself. It is one of the old offices that sex can discharge for sex—to describe that spot the size of a shilling at the back of the head. Think how much women have profited by the comments of Juvenal; by the criticism of Strindberg. Think with what humanity and brilliancy men, from the earliest ages, have pointed out to women that dark place at the back of the head! And if Mary were very brave and very honest, she would go behind the other sex and tell us what she found there. A true picture of a man as a whole can never be painted until a woman has described that spot the size of a shilling. Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Casaubon are spots of that size and nature. Not of course that any one in their senses would counsel her to hold up to scorn and ridicule of set purpose—literature shows the futility of what is written in that spirit. Be truthful, one would say, and the result is bound to be amazingly interesting. Comedy is bound to be enriched. New facts are bound to be discovered. However, it was high time to lower my eyes to the page again. It would be better, instead of speculating what Mary Carmichael might write and should write, to see what in fact Mary Carmichael did write. So I began to read again, I remembered that I had certain grievances against her. She had broken up Jane Austen’s sentence, thus given me no chance of pluming myself upon my impeccable taste, my fastidious ear. For it was useless to say, “Yes, yes, this is very nice; but Jane Austen wrote much better than you do,” when I had to admit that there was no point of likeness between them. Then she had gone further and broken the sequence—the expected order. Perhaps she had done this unconsciously, merely giving things their natural order, as a woman would, if she wrote like a woman. But the effect was somehow baffling; one could not see a wave heaping itself, a crisis coming round the next corner. Therefore I could not plume myself either upon the depths of my feelings and my profound knowledge of the human heart. For whenever I was about to feel the usual things in the usual places, about love, about death, the annoying creature twitched me away, as if the important point were just a little further on. And thus she mad eit impossible for me to roll out my sonorous phrases about “elemental feelings,” the “common stuff of humanity,” “depths of the human heart,” and all those other phrases which support us in our belief that, however clever we may be on top, we are very serious, very profound and very humane underneath. She made me feel on the contrary, that instead of being serious and profound and human, one might be-and the thought was far less seductive-merely lazy minded and conventional into the bargain. But I read on, and noted certain other facts. She was no “genius”—that was evident. She had nothing like the love of Nature, the fiery imagination, the wild poetry, the brilliant wit, the brooding wisdom of her great predecessors, Lady Winchilsea, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, Jane Austen and George Eliot; she could not write with the melody and the dignity of Dorothy Osborne—indeed she was no more than a clever girl whose books will no doubt be pulped by the publishers in ten years’ time. But, nevertheless, she had certain advantages which women of far greater gift lacked even half a century ago. Men were no longer to her “the opposition faction”; she need not waste her time railing against them; she need not climb on the roof and ruin her peace of mind longing for travel, experience, and a knowledge of the world and character that were denied her. Fear and hatred were almost gone, or traces of them showed only in slight exaggeration of the joy of freedom, a tendency to the caustic and satirical, rather than to the romantic, in her treatment of the other sex. Then there could be no doubt that as a novelist she enjoyed some natural advantages of high order. She had a sensibility that was very wide, eager and free. It responded to an almost imperceptible touch on it. It feasted like a plant newly stood in the air on every sight and sound that came its way. It ranged, too, very subtly and curiously, among almost unknown or unrecorded things; it lighted on small things and showed that perhaps they were not small after all. It brought buried things to light and made one wonder what need there had been to bury them. Awkward though she was and without the unconcious bearing of long descent which makes the least turn of the pen of a Thackeray or a Lamb delightful to the ear, she had—I began to think—mastered the first great lesson; she wrote as a woman, but as a woman has gotten that she is a woman, so that her pages were full of that curious sexual quality which comes only when sex is unconcious of itself.
All this was to the good. But no abundance of sensation or fineness or perception would avail unless she could build up out of the fleeting and the personal the lasting edifice which remains unthrown. I had said that I would wait until she proved by summoning, beckoning and getting together that she was not a skimmer of surfaces merely, but had looked beneath into the depths. Now is the time, she would say to herself at a certain moment, when without doing anything violent I can show the meaning of all this. And she would begin—how unmistakable that quickening is!—beckoning and summoning, and there would rise up in memory, half forgotten, perhaps quite trivial things in other chapters dropped by the way. And she would make their presence felt while some one sewed or smoked a pipe as naturally as possible, and one would feel, as she went on writing, as if one had gone to the top of the world and seen it laid out, very majestically, beneath. At any rate, she was making the attempt. And as I watched her lengthening out for the test, I saw, but hoped that she did not see, the bishops and the deans, the doctors and the professors, the patriarchs and the pedagogues all at her shouting warning and advice. You can’t do this and you shan’t do that! Fellows and scholars only allowed on the grass! Ladies not admitted without a letter of introduction! Aspiring and graceful female novelist this way! So they kept at her like the crowd at a fence on the race-course, and it was her trial to take her fence without looking to right or left. If you stop to curse you are lost, I said to her; equally if you stop to laugh. Hesitate or fumble and you are done for. Think only of the jump, I implored her, as if I had put the whole of my money on her back; and she went over it like a bird. But there was a fence beyond that and a fence beyond that. Whether she had the staying power I was doubtful, for the clapping and the crying were fraying to the nerves. But she did her best. Considering that Mary Carmichael was no genius, but an unknown girl writing her first novel in a bed-sitting room, without enough of those desirable things, time, money and idleness, she did not do so badly, I thought. Give her another hundred years, I concluded, reading the last chapter—people’s noses and bare shoulders showed naked against a starry sky, for some one had twitched the curtain in the drawing-room— give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days. She will be a poet, I said, putting Life’s Adventure, by Mary Carmichael, at the end of the shelf, in another hundred years’ time.
test 3 of my publication. less than a week.... uh oh.