Thursday, November 18, 2010

Women Who Are Good at Stuff

Someone I can really get behind is Edna St. Vincent Milay. She wrote simple poems about simple things from the perspective of the self I wish I could be all the time. Are you imperfect but also hate to be mad at yourself? Well, Edna's got a poem for you!

The Penitent

I had a little Sorrow,
Born of a little Sin,
I found a room all damp with gloom
And shut us all within;
And, "Little Sorrow, weep," said I,
"And, Little Sin, pray God to die,
And I upon the floor will lie
And think how bad I've been!"

Alas for pious planning - -
It mattered not a whit!
As far as gloom went in that room,
The lamp might have been lit!
My little Sorrow would not weep,
My little Sin would go to sleep --
To save my soul I could not keep
My graceless mind on it!

So I got up in anger,
And took a book I had,
And put a ribbon on my my hair
To please a passing lad,
And, "One thing there's no getting by --
I've been a wicked girl," said I:
"But if I can't be sorry, why,
I might as well be glad!"

Oh, Edna! So Bohemian and yet so sensible!

Also, this is one of my very favorite poems:


We were very tired, we were very merry–
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable–
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry–
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.
So, now you know about that dead woman who was good at stuff.
Now, here's an alive woman who is good at stuff:

For about three weeks now, I have ONLY been listening to Sharon Van Etten, which is some kind of record for me. I just don't get tired of her. She's preternaturally good at writing songs that sound simple and clean, but then you're like, how the hell did she do that? Anyway, I think she might be a witch.

She was on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert this week, and I was so pumped about it until I discovered that she brought [REDACTED*] with her to the studio who did nothing but [REDACTED] behind her for 15 minutes. Yeah, that was way harsh, Jesslyn. But you know what? YOU watch it and tell me I don't have a point:

Anyway, I hereby proclaim this Women Who Are/Were Good At Stuff, Even if They're Dead Day!

Do you have anyone you'd like to nominate?

*Redacted by the Mean Police, ie. my husband

1 comment:

  1. in keeping with the poetry part of your theme, I'd nominate Denise Levertov, because of this:

    "If it’s chariots or sandals,
    I’ll take sandals.
    I like the high prow of the chariot,
    the daredevil speed, the wind
    a quick tune you can’t
    quite catch
    but I want to go
    a long way
    and I want to follow
    paths where wheels deadlock.
    And I don’t want always
    to be among gear and horses,
    blood, foam, dust. I’d like
    to wean myself from their strange allure.
    I’ll chance
    the pilgrim sandals."
    — “A Traveler,” Denise Levertov

    "and I want to follow
    paths where wheels deadlock."
    I love that.