Monthly Archives: November 2013
If Herland was a comedic Broadway play, this is a little tune I wrote for it:
(“Herland” – a Broadway tune written by me)
All: What is to become of HER?
Solo Male 2: Is it like Themyscira?
Solo Male 1: Is Aphrodite and Diana here?
Males: For two thousand years it was SHE, SHE, SHE!
Females: Strong as any HE, HE, HE!
Males: Short hair! Long pants!
Solo Male 1: The only curves were in the land!
Lead Female: No reproduction without it!
Solo Male 2: No man, no hog, no man’s best friend
Solo Female 2: Not even some little Lepidoptera…
All: Only Education is important in… Herland!
Solo Male 2: I will serve and protect!
Lead Female: Will not!
Solo Male 3: I will conquer and win!
Lead Female: Will not!
Males: It’s Herland!
Solo Male 1: New language, new clothes, new country, new fortress!
Solo Male 2: New land!
Solo Male 3: Now we must plan our escape.
Lead Female: Don’t think so.
Solo Male 2: But our biplane is covered in a giant cape…
Lead Female: You must master our mastering.
Males: We must obey.
Solo Male 3: We must discover their secrets of reproductivity…
Solo Male 2: We must befriend and seduce…
Lead Female: Now all of their attention is He, He, He,
Not one, not two, but three –
NONE is enough for me!
Solo Female 1: I got my eye on…
Lead Female: Enough!
Solo Male 1: I got my eye on…
Lead Female: Enough!
Males: We’ve got our eyes on Herland!
Females: They have their eyes on Herland!
All: All the eyes are on Herland!
Solo Male 2: I got my eye on HER!
Six-word memoirs. What a great way to express oneself in few words. Here were a few of mine:
The story of my life:
Found my voice after waking up.
Know yourself better than anyone else.
On love and heartbreak:
Glad I grabbed you that day.
On pain and hope:
Things are ever-changing. I’m not immune.
On digital life:
Stop plagiarizing my words, you thief.
On green life:
It’s amazing what manure can do.
Still waiting to travel the country.
I share sushi with no one.
I’m starting to see the resemblance.
My cycle –
They’re all the
same to me
They come and go
and incite lunacy
The moon hovers its shadow
Over the sea’s changing tides
Its faces switch
from night to day,
revealing both its sides
The sea’s shifting body
goes in and out by day
Its rolling, stirring comber
takes the grit away
The cycle is my sister –
Each is relative, you see
Acting upon a schedule
of her own mystery
Copyright © 2010
I love learning new things. Last year I took a free course on Coursera – Modern Poetry with Al Filreis from the University of Pennsylvania. One of ModPo’s assignments required us to compare Williams’ two poems, but the assignment required us to say why the second one was more imagist than the other. Once again, I did things my own way and disagreed that the second poem is more imagist than the first. I guess I see things differently.
The second version of William Carlos Williams’ “Young Woman at a Window” does not follow the imagist manifesto more clearly than the first, because both poems leave a large window of interpretation. In both versions, the images are questionable and often unclear. Although they are very similar, both tell a completely different story by the way they are written in stanza. Williams’ first version (v1) of the poem tells us a story of a woman being robbed by a child. In the second version (v2), Williams tells us about a woman on the verge of a breakdown.
In the first line of v1, “While she sits / there”, the image is unclear. The word “while” is indefinite, as we do not know what period of time this could mean. She is sitting where? “There” does not indicate where she sits, so it does not mean the criteria of imagist poetry. In the second part of v1, “with tears on / her cheek,” the stanza seems to be clear that the tears are on her cheek without any alternative meaning or image. Williams uses the lines “her cheek on her hand” in both versions of the poem, but he separates them in stanzas. We know here that her cheek rests on her hand: “her cheek on / her hand” because it is in one stanza.
Williams’ choice of words in the fourth and fifth stanzas of v1: “this little child / who robs her // knows nothing of / his theft” could be construed as being either literally or figuratively robbed. Since imagists are supposed to be clear-cut in their poetry, I must conclude that this image is blurred from the poet’s intention.
At the end of v1, Williams concludes: “but rubs his / nose”. If in fact the child robbed the woman, he could very well thumb his nose at her. If he is figuratively robbing her, he is probably tired and crying, which causes him to rub his nose.
In v2 the poem begins: “She sits with / tears on” in the first stanza. This completely changes the meaning from the way it was written in v1 if each stanza represents a separate idea or image. The word “on” could be interpreted that the woman’s tears are turned on like a faucet.
Because v2 has been broken up into separate stanzas: “her cheek/her cheek on // her hand, the child,” it paints a different picture than the first version. Here, her cheek is emphasized, which makes the reader wonder if this particular cheek is part of her face or her buttocks. We can imagine both scenarios – her cheek on her hand could mean resting her hand on her face or sitting on her hand. Even though we may assume in v2 her cheek may be on her hand, the separate stanzas are a new idea. Then Williams throws us with: “her hand / the child.” Is the child acting up and she uses her hand to discipline him? First we had her cheek on her hand, now it seems to be on the child. Who can blame this woman, because she is clearly stressed!
However, in v2, Williams eliminates the “child who robs her” stanza altogether. Instead, he writes: “in her lap // his nose.” Here I imagine the child’s nose in the woman’s lap, the way young children bury their heads, especially after they’ve been disciplined by the hand.
Finally, v2 ends with “pressed / to the glass,” and I believe that Williams is using figurative language here. When glass is pressed hard enough, it breaks. Perhaps other readers will assume the child’s nose is pressed to the glass, but because the stanzas are separate, I imagine differently.
Although the second version of the poem is considered “more imagist,” I have to disagree. Neither are “hard and clear” as defined by the imagist manifesto, in my opinion. Just because someone claims one to be “more” than the other doesn’t make it so.