June 4, 2010

Poetry Friday--A Poem of Her Own

I have a book in my collection called A Poem of Her Own: Voices of American Women Yesterday and Today (Harry N. Abrams, 2003). It is edited by Catherine Clinton and illustrations are by Stephen Alcorn. I bought the book for fifty cents a few months back when a local remainders bookstore went out of business! Fifty cents! Can you believe it?

The book is gorgeously illustrated with paintings that employ the technique of splatter-painting, but, being a writer, I'm naturally drawn to the gorgeous poems first! The poems range from those of the colonial era (Anne Bradstreet) all the way forward to those of contemporary writers like Nikki Giovanni and Marge Piercy.

See Stephen Alcorn's website for more samples from the book.

I'd like to share this poem from 1923 by Edna St. Vincent Millay, known by its first line as, "I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed"
I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body's weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity,--let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.
Ah, passion! But, there is also the reality that physical attraction isn't enough.

The short bio of Millay at the back of the book tells us that she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She won in 1923 for her book The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems.

Stop by The Cazzy Files for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

1 comment:

  1. My work is not usually humorous, so I always admire the sly humor in almost every poem by Millay."Being born a woman and distressed"!

    She had me at that first line.