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!
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.
I wrote this while taking Coursera’s Fantasy & Science Fiction course. The assignment was to write an essay on HG Wells work, but I do things my way. I combined the two stories and created a poem out of it.
She was like a lion,
a big bright shining star
Her mane rose up,
captured the sky
like a chariot on fire,
those that surrounded her
Push, pull, push, pull…
Most never take notice
until it’s too late
But the one with one eye –
Yes, he notices
He sees her bodacious beauty –
mountains rising above him,
he begins to feel caved in
Until he realizes he’s in love.
This was published in Flash Fiction Chronicles a few years ago:
When I was a student at Florida State University, I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing artist Peter Saul. At the time, he was 63 years old and an instructor at the University of Texas. After seeing his work at FSU’s art museum, I was inspired! There was so much detail and elements of story that I knew I just had to write my art education term paper on this awesome artist. This is a portion of my paper and interview concerning his work Criminal Medicine.
The art created by Peter Saul reflects the images of surrealism, pop art, and abstract expressionism. His use of distorted gesture and unrealistic figures imitate the style of surrealists; his bright fluorescent colors and cartoonish style represents the work of pop artists; and his abstract figures mirror the abstract expressionists. Saul’s subject matter usually includes social or psychological issues. Viet Nam became the subject of Saul’s work in the 60s. Some of the artist’s work came from a personal level, such as his “Self-Portrait”. Saul has exhibited his work all over the world, including France, Switzerland (Bibliography) and at Florida State University.
Criminal Medicine, one of Saul’s pieces located in the Florida State University’s permanent collection, was painted with oil on acrylic in 1966. Like his other works, Criminal Medicine is filled with symbols of its time – the 1960s – the flower power, Vietnam era. This piece’s symbolism involves an objection to the war that was so devastating – and so objected – to so many people. Criminal Medicine is about the power the United States’ soldiers had over the Viet Namese. There are chemistry tubes and vials labeled “race mixer” and “criminal medicine”, a U.S. Army sergeant, a female figure with a hat, a house, protruding eyes, musical notes, a cross with an army coat nailed to it, and the word “adultery” labeled nearby a female figure with an embryo in her womb. She sun is shown in different phases: smiling empty-eyed and not smiling. The subjects are overlapped, and the cartoonish colors include bright pink, orange, yellow, green, and silver, with bright and military shades of green and blues. Saul’s style in this artwork is tightly pieced together with black outlining the colors.
Criminal Medicine takes on a deconstructionist attitude, with its contradictions in the social setting. It represents what was behind the scenes of the destructive war – prejudice, pregnancy, and prayer. The racism between both countries was prevalent. The soldiers were impregnating women before they’d leave the country, and there were people praying for their lives to be saved probably more than ever.
In his interview, Saul says that there is a lot of psychology involved in Criminal Medicine. The sun is a curious item in the painting, with its spacey smile on one side and its melancholy look on the other. Perhaps the artist was trying to remind himself that it was still the age of LSD, despite what was happening across the world. Ironically, Saul claims to have never taken LSD or any drug (Interview), although his work appears to be “trippy”.
(Note: LSD was banned in ’66 when this painting was completed.) (“Political Paintings”).
For more information about this piece at Florida State University’s Museum of Fine Art, visit: