The Hairbag Poet-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

Tara Smith at Going to Walden is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

I know it may sound weird but I often treasure the time I spend in my car, waiting, while my children are at their activities. I call this my “found time.” I use it to read, write or do homework depending on my mood, or my deadlines. Last night, while waiting for my daughter’s swim practice to end, I decided to read. I had been doing some research on female poets and had begun researching Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Although I had known of Millay’s work, I didn’t know much about Millay the women, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the cold and empty parking lot I was sitting in, outside of the pool my daughter was swimming in, just happened to be on the campus of Millay’s alma mater, Vassar College, and the inspiration for her Drama in 5 acts “The Lamp and the Bell.” Millay wrote this play for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Vassar College Alumni Association, and dedicated the play to members of the Class of 1917. It was performed at Vassar in 1921 with an all female cast. You can read the play here.

Vassar College

Millay was a poet who garnered success and fame during her lifetime. Her career launched at the early age of 20 when she won recognition in a poetry contest for her poem Renascence. Though she was born into poverty, a wealthy fan paid her way to Vassar College. It was at Vassar that Millay explored her sexuality and her writing. In 1923 she received the Pulitzer-Prize for poetry for The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.  Though Millay was world renown, she eventually married, and settled in the town of Austerlitz, NY, on a 700-acre farm named Steepletop. She died at the age of 58 after suffering a cardiac arrest, and falling down the stairs inside her home. Her work speaks for itself.

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

“Son,” said my mother,

   When I was knee-high,

“You’ve need of clothes to cover you,

   And not a rag have I.

 

“There’s nothing in the house

   To make a boy breeches,

Nor shears to cut a cloth with

   Nor thread to take stitches.

 

“There’s nothing in the house

   But a loaf-end of rye,

And a harp with a woman’s head

   Nobody will buy,”

   And she began to cry.

 

That was in the early fall.

   When came the late fall,

“Son,” she said, “the sight of you

   Makes your mother’s blood crawl,—

 

“Little skinny shoulder-blades

   Sticking through your clothes!

And where you’ll get a jacket from

   God above knows.

 

“It’s lucky for me, lad,

   Your daddy’s in the ground,

And can’t see the way I let

   His son go around!”

   And she made a queer sound.

 

That was in the late fall.

   When the winter came,

I’d not a pair of breeches

   Nor a shirt to my name.

 

I couldn’t go to school,

   Or out of doors to play.

And all the other little boys

   Passed our way.

 

“Son,” said my mother,

   “Come, climb into my lap,

And I’ll chafe your little bones

   While you take a nap.”

 

And, oh, but we were silly

   For half an hour or more,

Me with my long legs

   Dragging on the floor,

 

A-rock-rock-rocking

   To a mother-goose rhyme!

Oh, but we were happy

   For half an hour’s time!

 

But there was I, a great boy,

   And what would folks say

To hear my mother singing me

   To sleep all day,

   In such a daft way?

 

Men say the winter

   Was bad that year;

Fuel was scarce,

   And food was dear.

 

A wind with a wolf’s head

   Howled about our door,

And we burned up the chairs

   And sat on the floor.

 

All that was left us

   Was a chair we couldn’t break,

And the harp with a woman’s head

   Nobody would take,

   For song or pity’s sake.

 

The night before Christmas

   I cried with the cold,

I cried myself to sleep

   Like a two-year-old.

 

And in the deep night

   I felt my mother rise,

And stare down upon me

   With love in her eyes.

 

I saw my mother sitting

   On the one good chair,

A light falling on her

   From I couldn’t tell where,

 

Looking nineteen,

   And not a day older,

And the harp with a woman’s head

   Leaned against her shoulder.

 

Her thin fingers, moving

   In the thin, tall strings,

Were weav-weav-weaving

   Wonderful things.

 

Many bright threads,

   From where I couldn’t see,

Were running through the harp-strings

  Rapidly,

 

And gold threads whistling

   Through my mother’s hand.

I saw the web grow,

   And the pattern expand.

 

She wove a child’s jacket,

   And when it was done

She laid it on the floor

   And wove another one.

 

She wove a red cloak

   So regal to see,

“She’s made it for a king’s son,”

   I said, “and not for me.”

   But I knew it was for me.

 

She wove a pair of breeches

   Quicker than that!

She wove a pair of boots

   And a little cocked hat.

 

She wove a pair of mittens,

   She wove a little blouse,

She wove all night

   In the still, cold house.

 

She sang as she worked,

   And the harp-strings spoke;

Her voice never faltered,

   And the thread never broke.

   And when I awoke,—

 

There sat my mother

   With the harp against her shoulder

Looking nineteen

   And not a day older,

 

A smile about her lips,

   And a light about her head,

And her hands in the harp-strings

   Frozen dead.

 

And piled up beside her

   And toppling to the skies,

Were the clothes of a king’s son,

   Just my size.

Millay is also most famously known for coining the phrase “My candle burns at both ends…” from Figs from Thistles: First Fig.

Figs from Thistles: First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
   It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
   It gives a lovely light!

(Poetryfoundation.org, 2019)

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

 

The Hairbag Poet

 

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The Hairbag Poet-Birth

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

Todays Poetry Friday Roundup can be found over at Sylvia Vardell’s site here.

You can read about the history of this series here.

One of the things I love most about the internet is the ability to come across interesting, educational, or inspiring information. Imagine my delight, when I came across a place that encompassed all of the above. A few months back I was scrolling through my twitter feed, and you know how you click on something, or someone shared something, and you check it out, and before you know it, you’re down the rabbit hole. Well that’s how I came across #WOMENSART @womensart1. I was smitten immediately. There is so much cool, interesting, beautiful, and not so beautiful art in every form imaginable: painting, drawing, sculpture, needlework, textile, glass, jewelry…you name it. I could spend hours just browsing through all the images. Well, one day I came across the image you see below. It’s an 18th century training doll for midwives, created by a French midwife. What I love about this piece is how it combines my love of nursing, nursing education, and the creative spirit with which nurses have historically harnessed, with my love of artistry. It is an amazing and artistic teaching tool. I was so inspired I knew I just had to use this picture for a Hairbag Poem.

I decided to use the poetic form of Abecedarian. This style of poetry is related to acrostic, where the first letter of each line or stanza follows the alphabet sequentially (Poetry Foundation, 2018). I enjoyed the writing process for this poem, and tried to stay true to the reality of labor.

 

Angélique-Marguerite du Coudray was a pioneering and influential 18th century French midwife who designed equipment to teach midwife trainees about delivering babies

Birth

A
Birth has an order that starts with
Contractions that lead to
Dilation a cervical action.
Effacement occurs as the cervix is thinning, the
First of three stages of labors beginning.
Get up, take a walk, or a shower or bath
Heed your instructions from childbirth class.
Initial excitement is normal at first,
Just remember don’t panic should your water burst.
Keep calm, call the doctor, active
Labor has begun,
Make your way to the car for your hospital run.
Now here’s the hard part, and it takes a long time,
Often known as transition, or labor half-time.
Panting through pain, don’t
Quit…rise to power.
Remember
Stage 2 is the magical hour. It’s
Time to start pushing, bear down, concentrate…
Uterine contractions exacerbate!
Vaginal tissues stretch and make room, as the baby descends from out of your
Womb.
Xenagogue guides the final egest, then places
Your newborn on top of your chest.
Zeal fills the room,
(Wait…
it’s time for stage 3,
the afterbirth,
placental delivery).

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

 

The Hairbag Poet

 

 

 

 

The Hairbag Poet-Eye Spy

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

Hi Ho, and Ho, Ho, and Happy Holidays to all! It has been quite some time since my last Hairbag Poet post, and that’s because my loving (loser) brother has been unable (refuses) to send me any new photos from his west coast relocation. So today I have a guest photographer (my friend Carol) who was kind enough to send me some of her awesome (weird) pictures from Paris (my 2nd favorite city).

For a long time I have been wanting to write a post on Iambic Pentameter. I’m pretty sure we can all agree that Shakespeare’s primary writing style was probably one of those banes of high school English Class, along with Beowulf, and The Canterbury Tales. Trying to read Old, Middle, and Early Modern English was not an easy task as a teenager, and quite frankly isn’t an easy task as an adult either. Although I have struggled with the form of Iambic Pentameter, I yearn to get it right.

Iambic Pentameter is actually the combination of two poetic terms: Iamb and Pentameter. Iamb refers to “A metrical foot consisting of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable…It is the most common meter of poetry in English” (Poetry Foundation, 2018). As we know, William Shakespeare wrote all of his plays and poems in this meter. According to Poetry Foundation (2018), a pentameter is a line made up of five feet, and is the most common metrical line in English. “Iambic pentameter is a beat of foot that uses 10 syllables in each line” (Literary Devices, 2018).

Here is an example from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night:

“If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall…
Stealing and giving odour! Enough; no more:
‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love! how quick and fresh art thou,
That, notwithstanding thy capacity…
But falls into abatement and low price,
Even in a minute: so full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.”

Brilliant right? I’m almost embarrassed to follow William Shakespeare.

Here’s just a quick history behind my pictures today. My friend Carol spent several weeks in Paris this summer while her husband was working on his book. She would often send me pictures from her days wondering the city. One day I received a picture of these weird looking eyeball street posts, and have to admit I was a little creeped out by them, imagining cameras inside those stony pupils watching one’s every move. I thought they would make an excellent subject for the Hairbag Poet.

This is my first attempt at iambic pentameter, and I hope I managed to get it right. I also wrote in monorhyme which is the use of only one rhyme in each stanza.

Photos by Carol

Eye Spy

I walked along the Paris streets last night;
A city swathed in scintillescent light.
I stumbled on a rather frightening sight,
of painted orb like eyeball pegmatite.

A visual, or a vision, watching me?
Big brother, or just streetwise artistry?
Direction générale de la sécurité?
Either way I find the eyes creepy.

I bowed my head and pulled my hood down low
But eyeballs tracked my movements to and fro
on sidewalks optic archipelago,
Paranoia palpable from head to toe.

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

The Hairbag Poet

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!

The Hairbag Poet-Perspective

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

Today I will be presenting two poems. One is from the perspective of the dolls, and the other is from the perspective of the Aliens, characters that you may remember from some of my previous poems. This has been a fun series to write, if not a little creepy.

Today’s poem, and really this whole series has been an example of anthropomorphism. According to Poetry Foundation anthropomorphism is “a form of personification in which human qualities are attributed to anything inhuman, usually a god, animal, object, or concept.” I think children are always bringing objects to life. It’s why I have the photo’s I do. The dolls, and toys in most of these posts are my nieces. However I believe their worn torn world are the result of my brother’s imagination. When I think about it, I feel like my brother and I are kids again, playing with toys; we’re just a little older, and our sense of humor has warped a bit, but we’re creating, collaborating, imagining, and having a good laugh.

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

 

The Hairbag Poet

 

Photo by Donald who says, “The barbies attack the fairy village.”

Perspective: Dolls

Warriors come out to play.
Revenge is what we seek today.
Fairy Queen,
you’ve killed our tribe,
and now in hollowed oak you hide.
Come out and face us
one last time!
Let justice judge
your vicious crime.

Photo by Donald who says, “The Aliens still on their trek come upon the battle.”

Perspective: Aliens

We are the aliens
from X-241,
our planet is Ogda,
it’s warmed by one sun.

My offspring and I
landed last year in Maine
in your snowy, cold land
with its icy terrain.

We were chased by clawed beasts,
and a smoking old guy,
so we ran for our lives
as our spaceship stood by.

We escaped to our home,
we regrouped,
and we planned
to return to this land
we could not understand.

So we waited till Summer
when earth neared the sun,
and traveled through space;
another journey begun.

But not much has changed,
this land they call Maine,
remains brutally cold;
a hostile domain.

We’ve witnessed a war
between dolls and a fairy
that’s inhumane, ruthless,
vicious and scary.

Barbie doll heads sat skewered on spikes,
that were severed with ease,
by the Fairy Queen’s strike.

This visual nightmare,
a crime wicked, mean.
“An eye for an eye”
claims this homicidal Queen.

It’s time that we leave now
and head westernmost,
to the fog laden, misty, Pacific seacoast.

I am sad to say that my brother Donald has moved from Maine to Washington State, and we will no longer be sharing the same coast. Though I’m happy for him, and his family, because they are moving to a beautiful area, I will miss them dearly. I look forward to what the west coast will inspire in Donald’s photography, and the future of the Hairbag Poet.

The Hairbag Poet-First Impressions

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

I’m sad to say that today’s poem will be an elegy to my dear friend Vera who passed away recently. According to Poetry Foundation, “In traditional English poetry, it is often a melancholy poem that laments its subject’s death, but ends in consolation.” My friend Vera was quite the traditional English lady, with a divinely cheeky side that I think she let shine when she came to visit us in New York.

What’s so wonderful about my friendship with this amazing lady was the genesis of our relationship, the difference in our ages, and the ocean between us. I first met Vera, who is the mother of one of my closest friends, back in the mid 1990s.  I was a young 20 something year old, living and working in NYC, and like most NYC singles, I was renting a share in a Hamptons house with a few of my friends, Vera’s son being one of them.

On one of the hottest days of the summer, my friend asked me if I would pick up his mother who had just flown into town, and drive her out to The Hamptons with me in my run down, no air-conditioned, two-door, hatch back, hunk of junk. Besides not wanting to take a total stranger in my car for a 4-5 hour hell ride out to Long Island, I also kind of had a bad experience in the past with an ex-boyfriends English mother, who let’s just say left a rancid taste in my mouth.

After quite a bit of pleading, and a notarized letter that his mother was not a mean, English aristocrat guided by the ramblings of Emily Post, I acquiesced. It was a wonderful decision! Vera was the kind of lady that smoked like a chimney, partied like a rock star, danced like a dervish, and spoke like my fair lady. I loved everything about her.  Over the years Vera came to visit NY often, and we continued to bond on those short visits.

Life is not immune to change, and neither was I. I grew up, got married, and started a family of my own, and though Vera made a visit to my house in the country when my first child was born, we didn’t see much of each of other after that. We exchanged Christmas cards, and I sent her pictures of the kids, but our correspondence was brief.

Life is sad when we find ourselves distanced from the ones we love.

I know Vera truly lived a wonderful life, and I am grateful, and honored for having had the pleasure to spend the time with her that I was given. She will be truly missed!

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by.

The Hairbag Poet

First Impressions

I was uncertain the first day I met you,

sovereign in your jewels, and high brow heritage.

It was a meeting I tried to refuse, but,

for the kindness gifted to a good friend, I conceded.

“She’s nice, she’s cool, you’ll love her,” he said.

“No Way!”

English Mothers are not my style, they cramp my style; they don’t get my style.

But I said yes anyway,

and there you were: dripping in gold, and purple track pants, climbing into

my rusty car, with missing hubcaps, and locks jammed long ago

by the thieves of New York.

You were quiet…polite.

I was quiet…polite.

The heat was stifling,

and we hadn’t even gotten off of St. Marks Place.

I offered cold tea.

Do the English drink cold tea?

Apparently.

With the city behind us,

and a long journey ahead,

I wanted to smoke.

Do the English smoke?

Apparently…

like predators on prey.

Was that relief?

Smoke drifted out both windows,

and the tension wisped away with it.

Conversation eased from pleasantries to endearment.

This was a friendship in the making!

Vera on the back of my Harley Davidson.

The Hairbag Poet-The Drones of War

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

 

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

One of the things I love about being the Hairbag Poet, is the research that goes into writing this series.  I know it’s mostly silly, and weird subject matter attached to often disturbing photographs (thanks to my brother Donald) that I write about, but I take the learning of poetry seriously.

For this post I came across a poetic term called Caesura. According to poetry foundation Caesura is “A stop or pause in a metrical line, often marked by punctuation or by a grammatical boundary, such as a phrase or clause. Medial caesurae (plural of caesura) can be found throughout contemporary poet Derek Walcott’s “The Bounty.” When the pause occurs toward the beginning or end of the line, it is termed, respectively, initial or terminal.” Caesura can be marked with this symbol ll (parallel lines) in the middle of the line, but according to literary terms it is not usually marked at all. Some famous lines evincing caesura are the “The Star-Spangeled Banner” lyrics “Oh, say can you see ll by the dawn’s early light…” Another example is Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” “To be or not to be, ll that is the question.” A beautiful example of initial and terminal caesura can be found in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “Mother and Poet.”

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

 

The Hairbag Poet

Photo by Donald who says, “Barbie sends in her archers.”

The Drones of War

The Drones ride in with their spiked wings.
Vengeance coats their metal tips.
Fairy Queens do not veil themselves in honey,
but ready themselves on the battlefield;
defeat absent from their vernacular.
No hive of arrows will incarcerate this fierce sprite.
With quiver mute, the Drones retreat.
Their return…cocksure!

The Hairbag Poet-The Fairy Wars

Hi and welcome to my Friday series The Hairbag Poet.

In the blogging world Fridays are known as Poetry Friday.  You can read about Poetry Friday here. I will plan on posting The Hairbag Poet each Friday.

You can read about the history of this series here.

Todays poem covers two poetic writing styles of repetition: anaphora and epistrophe (or epiphora). According to Poetry Foundation, anaphora “is the repetition of a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect.” On the other hand, epiphora is when a word or phrase is repeated at the end of successive clauses (Literary Devices, 2018).

I attempted to incorporate both into my poem today. Hopefully this Hairbag Poet got it right.

I hope you enjoy these posts. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and please feel free to post your own poetry in the comments if you feel inspired by the photographs. I always love reading other peoples perspective on “art”.

 

The Hairbag Poet

Photo by Donald. He says, “The barbies thought it was a good time to take the fairy stronghold. They were mistaken! And so the Fairy war began”

The Dolls of War lie prone in the sun soaked grass of a summer afternoon.
Tears cry for the fallen.
The Dolls of War espy the Fairy Queens triumph; hubris hangs in azalea’s fragrance.
Tears cry for the broken.
The Dolls of War rigored bodies prove victims of an indiscriminate battlefield reaper.
Tears cry for the wicked.