‘Living space’ by Imtiaz Dharker

There are just not enough
Straight lines. That
Is the problem.
Nothing is flat
Or parallel. Beams
Balance crookedly on supports
Thrust off the vertical.
Nails clutch at open seams.
The whole structure leans dangerously
Towards the miraculous.

Into this rough frame,
Someone has squeezed
A living space

And even dared to place
These eggs in a wire basket,
Fragile curves of white
Hung out over the dark edge
Of a slanted universe,
Gathering the light
Into themselves,
As if they were
The bright, thin walls of faith.


I have only recently begun reading Imtiaz Dharker’s poetry and I have found it very refreshing. The way she explores cultural differences, identity and the idea of ‘otherness’ really fascinates me. If you read just a little of her biography you will see that she is well placed to talk about those issues; raised in Scotland by Pakistani parents, she attended a Calvinist school as a Muslim, and now lives between Mumbai and London with her Indian Hindu husband. Her poems are bold and brave, often political and always relevant. I really recommend reading more of them.

I chose this particular poem for today’s blog because of that startling image of the fragile, white eggs hanging precariously in the midst of what I suppose is an Indian slum or shanty town.

There is an irresistible playfulness about the language used to depict the chaos of the shanty town. I love the almost tongue-in-cheek tone of that opening phrase and ‘explanation’ of the “problem” with the place — “There are just not enough/ Straight lines”. But this playful tone certainly does not detract from the seriousness of the poverty being described; the squalor and precariousness of existence here is made tangible through the balancing beams, the nails that “clutch at open seams” and the whole structure leaning “dangerously/ towards the miraculous”. That word “clutch” in particular, and that beautiful, off-beat rhyme scheme using “beams”, “seams” and “leans” really creates, I think, a sense of how the whole town is seemingly holding together by a thread.

People have “squeezed” a “living space” into this place. I just adore this second half of the poem. There is something so triumphant about those eggs. Someone has “even dared” to hang the eggs there, so fragile and white and in such a dirty, dangerous, unpredictable environment. The wire basket is such a flimsy protection for them. There is incredible faith displayed by the person who has hung those eggs there. It reminds me of Yeats’ poem He wishes for the cloths of heaven when it goes, “I have spread my dreams under your feet;/ Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” Leaving the eggs there in the middle of the shanty town was sort of like leaving your dreams under somebody’s feet.

The way Dharker describes the eggs at the end of the poem to me is just exquisite: “gathering the light/ into themselves,/ as if they were/ the bright, thin walls of faith”. The bright, thin walls of faith! It’s so beautiful. To me, that is just what faith is — bright and beautiful and heroic — but at the same time so fragile, its “walls” paper-thin like eggshell.  Of course, the reality is that these eggs are in a position where they will most likely get broken, and the message about the atrocious conditions of shanty towns can’t be ignored. But the faith that put the eggs there is still heroic and startling, and that is why I chose this poem.


‘Jenny kissed me’ by Leigh Hunt

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

That Sylvia Plath blog was pretty heavy yesterday so I thought I’d go with something shorter, lighter and happier for today!
I first read this poem in my Oxford Book of English Verse, which my grandparents gave me for my 21st birthday. It struck me as so sweet and romantic and I love its simplicity. I think most of us do value love above all else and this communicates that fact in such a lovely way. But there’s no point saying anything more; this poem speaks for itself.

‘The moon and the yew tree’ by Sylvia Plath

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place.
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky —
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness –
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars
Inside the church, the saints will all be blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness – blackness and silence.

I find most of Sylvia Plath’s poems difficult. I’m not ashamed to say that; it’s actually part of why I love her work so much. I read The Bell Jar (her only novel) when I was 18. It is a ‘coming of age’ novel, sort of like The Catcher in the Rye, but from a female perspective. It spoke to me so much at that time and I read it and read it again, astounded to hear such an honest, accessible voice. So I then started on her poetry — firstly whichever ones I managed to find online — but now I have read both The Colossus and Ariel. This poem is from the Ariel collection.

I adore the feeling when I look at a new Plath poem and read it to myself, relishing the sound of it, the feel of it, the unexpectedness of the words, and then try to figure it out. Her poems can often seem cryptic but are always engaging, and I don’t see why this kind of poetry should be scary. Surely there’s no right way to read a poem. Whatever comes out of it for you is valuable. All I’m trying to do on this blog is tell you what it says to me.

This poem gives me a few different ideas. I get a strong sense of conflict between the masculine and the feminine, symbolised by the moon (a traditional feminine symbol) and the yew tree. This could be to do with Sylvia’s mother and father (her father died when she was 10 and a lot of her poetry is about him), or perhaps it is about herself and her husband Ted Hughes. For me, this poem also communicates despair, suicidal thoughts, as well as a detachment from and disillusionment with religion.

So, the poem starts out by talking about the “light of the mind” and the “trees of the mind”. The light, which you would expect to be warm and illuminating, is described as “cold and planetary”. The trees are “black”. The trees — I read the trees here as a masculine symbol — seem very portentous, ominous; instead of bearing fruit they are black, haunting Plath’s mind. The light — which, as you may have guessed, I read as a feminine symbol — is blue. There is an absence of warmth coming from this feminine light; it is not motherly or loving. The legacy Plath’s father has left her is despair, a dreadful blackness; her mother’s legacy is sadness and cold.

This opening stanza is so sad. I think my favourite line of the poem is, “The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God”. As she walks in her garden, you can feel the unbearable weight pressing down on the poet. There is this sense of inadequacy that I think runs through the whole poem; she is not God, she does not live up to the world’s (and her own?) expectations. This line might have something to do with her feeling inadequate as a mother; perhaps she feels her own light is “cold and planetary” when it is expected to be warm and maternal. Plath lives next to a church (she wrote this at the house she and Ted Hughes lived in for a time in Devon). The “spiritous mists” are “Separated from my house by a row of headstones”, she tells us. Plath cannot see the beauty or find any spirituality or romance in the place where she is living, because of the graveyard. The row of headstones is a blockage in her mind. Death is preoccupying her, perhaps thoughts of suicide. Thoughts of death are preventing her from knowing God, from seeing beauty, and seem to be sabotaging her whole existence. “I simply cannot see where there is to get to”, she says. This is so bleak and heartbreaking. Plath has come to a dead end, she no longer sees her own future, her purpose.

The second verse describes the moon. It is “no door”, Plath tells us. The moon is not a guide or a help or an inspiration. You can sense a detachment in Plath from it — and from her mother? From her own feminine identity? I love her description of the moon as “white as a knuckle”. There is an anger there, a clenched fist. The moon is upset; it drags “the sea after is like a dark crime”. There is a feeling of guilt here, of shame; I wonder if Sylvia Plath felt shame at not being what she perceived a ‘perfect mother’ or a ‘perfect wife’. But this is not any guilt — it has the weight of all the oceans. The moon is also “quiet/ with the O-gape of complete despair”. This is a very telling image. It is a perfect feminine picture but it is making this silent scream of despair. The silent “O-gape” reminds me of Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. “I live here”, says Plath. There is no doubt, the poet is telling us, ‘this is my reality’. This is how she lives — in unvoiced despair. This is so sad because Plath ended up committing suicide, and these words make me feel that she suffered in complete silence.

In the third verse we get a description of the yew tree. It is not as lengthy a description as that of the moon. All we are told is that it “points up”, and has a “Gothic shape”. It is an obvious phallic shape symbolising the male, and the word Gothic evokes the idea of tradition, of religion and, for me, it also has an ominous feeling, a sort of foreboding. It is interesting to me that there is such a short description of the yew tree in this poem. All we get is a “blackness”, a mere silhouette; perhaps it is because Plath’s father died when she was so young that the yew tree — the male, the father — remains unfathomable. If you follow the yew tree with your eyes you find the moon; the moon is the target, the victim. Plath then continues to describe the moon. “The moon is my mother” she says, not sweet “like Mary”; there is so much disappointment in this poem. The mother, the feminine, never lives up to what we expect.”How I would like to believe in tenderness”, the beautiful image of the Virgin Mary bending her gaze on “me in particular”, says Plath. This to me reveals a total disillusionment with God. For the poet there is no benevolent God watching over her — there is no tenderness — her world is cold and sad and without purpose.

The final stanza begins “I have fallen a long way.” That word ‘fallen’ makes me think of a ‘fallen woman’. It is funny how we often judge ourselves by standards and traditions we do not believe in; our deepest hearts are often still ruled by them. This verse makes me feel that the poet judged herself through the stern eyes of a religion in which she no longer believed; those feminine ideals of the mother in the image of Mary are very ingrained in us. She talks about what is inside the church, the saints, “floating” over the pews, their hands and feet “stiff with holiness”. But the moon “sees nothing of this” — she is “bald and wild”. This is such a fascinating image to me because the feminine symbol is given traits of insanity. The baldness is unnatural for a woman; it is not pretty, it is not coy or flirtatious. The moon is ripped bare, vulnerable, and its madness is exposed for all to see. And the poem leaves us with “the message of the yew tree” (of course, the male will have the final word) which is “blackness — blackness and silence”. Death is the message of the yew tree, and it overrides everything else, just as Plath’s depression eventually won the battle for her soul.

‘Greater Love’ by Wilfred Owen

Red lips are not so red
As the stained stones kissed by the English dead.
Kindness of wooed and wooer
Seems shame to their love pure.
O Love, your eyes lose lure
When I behold eyes blinded in my stead! 
Your slender attitude
Trembles not exquisite like limbs knife-skewed,
Rolling and rolling there
Where God seems not to care;
Till the fierce Love they bear
Cramps them in death’s extreme decrepitude.

Your voice sings not so soft, —
Though even as wind murmuring through raftered loft, —
Your dear voice is not dear,
Gentle, and evening clear,
As theirs whom none now hear
Now earth has stopped their piteous mouths that coughed.

Heart, you were never hot,
Nor large, nor full like hearts made great with shot;
And though your hand be pale,
Paler are all which trail
Your cross through flame and hail:
Weep, you may weep, for you may touch them not.

It is Remembrance Day today and therefore appropriate for me to write about a war poem. When I was considering my blog for today there was no question in my mind of which poet I would choose. Wilfred Owen is probably the best known war poet in the English-speaking world. He might also be my favourite poet. Ever.

So, what do I think is so special about Owen’s poetry? The tragedy of their source — the youth of the poet, his tragic death just days before the Armistice. Their strength — their quiet power, the echoing effects of rhyme and rhythm. Their compassion, indignation, defiance; their strange, delicate beauty…

I could go on. But the reason I have chosen to write about Wilfred Owen is not just because of the greatness of his poetry. No, the reason I want to write about Wilfred Owen today is because I think he embodies everything that Remembrance Day is about: tragedy, the pity of war, the indignation of an innocent generation slaughtered, and the heroism — the ‘Greater Love’ — that war has necessitated in so many people since there were Kings to send them into battle.

Whenever I have read about Wilfred Owen I have always felt a deep connection to him and a deep sympathy — mostly because of how ‘ordinary’ he was before the war. As a boy, all he ever wanted was to be a poet. He started to write verse as a child. He went to France as a young man and taught at a school in Bordeaux for two years, during which time he continued to work on his poetic skills. He was a perfectly unexceptional man in many ways, and his poetry was apparently unexceptional too. Photographs of him show a gentle face. Then the war came and Owen enlisted in 1915. To me there is something so touching about this obviously very sensitive man, this aspiring poet being swept up in that war, a war which was to be a catalyst for his greatness, but also the cause of his death.

Owen broke down and was sent to Craiglockhart Hospital in Scotland, shell-shocked like so many after his first experience of trench warfare. There he met fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon, who helped him to find his voice and encouraged him to write about the war. And then all of that great, booming poetry poured out of him. He went back to the Front only to die on November 4th 1918. But Owen was no coward — he was brave — he even won the military cross. It is as though finding his poetic voice gave him a furious strength, almost a fearlessness. In one of his letters to his mother he wrote “I fought like an angel”. And then he was killed. For me there is no answer to such a tragedy. And when I read Owen’s poems I find there is no answer to give to them either. He makes that war so real for me, and words falter and fail to describe what I feel.

Wilfred Owen’s poetry has become the voice of every soldier from the First World War, and every war since. And what a voice. He speaks for soldiers who would never otherwise be heard — the dead, their voices snuffed out by bullets or shells, and the survivors whose voices were invalidated by ‘shell-shock’ or, as we know it now, post traumatic stress. His poetry is not about pacifism or the rightness or wrongness of war. Today is not about that either. Today celebrates not the war but the heroes of wars — the dead and the maimed. Wilfred Owen speaks for them all. He insures that they are always remembered.

I do not want to do any kind of analysis of the poem posted above, I just want to say one thing about it. In it, Wilfred Owen gives a response to senseless slaughter that most of us could surely only respond to with silence or madness. He makes the dead heroes. Better yet, he sanctifies their death; he transforms their blood into tender kisses, he makes their love “pure”, he uses biblical language for them (“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” is from the Gospel of John.) In the trenches, in war, he says, “God seems not to care”. But the poem is not about God’s abandonment. That is irrelevant today; it is the soldiers who transcend the evil of war and attain Christ-like status in our eyes. And that is where they belong today.

‘Her kind’ by Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

This poem conjures up a few feminine stereotypes, doesn’t it? These are the mythical categories society has created for women over the centuries, and which I think certainly still exist: the witch, the mother, the madwoman, the whore. As women, we are all pushed, warped or crammed to fit into one or many of these categories at some point during our lives. I love Anne Sexton’s tone, it’s so cutting and sharp. If you listen to her reading this poem on YouTube or the Poetry Archive you will hear her clipped, unsentimental voice which so perfectly accentuates that tone. She recognises that she has inhabited all of these feminine constructs, and invites us to do likewise.

The first construct is the witch — “possessed”, “lonely”, “twelve-fingered”; “I have been her kind”, Sexton affirms. “A woman like that is not a woman, quite”. Society has a very clear idea about what makes a woman a woman. And a witch is a ‘non-woman’. We have all been “her kind”, because any woman could be labelled a witch: women of the “night”, “haunting the black air” (these could be prostitutes, or even any woman who choses to go out at night), “lonely” women (those who are ostracized or outcast for whatever reason), and “twelve-fingered” women (this is of course an image of a witch but it also makes me think of any woman who does not fit in physically, or look like Marilyn Monroe). A witch could also be any woman whose talent or power is a threat. Writers, artists, scientists, sportswomen… any woman who threatens to be brilliant, to outshine a man. Remember that Sexton was writing in the sixties and seventies, and though the ideas in this poem are still relevant today, the world was obviously very different when she was writing.

The second stanza is about the wife or mother construct. There she is, organising the domestic furniture of “skillets, carvings, shelves,/ closets, silks…” and “fixing the suppers for the worms and the elves”; she is behaving as a wife and mother should — cleaning and tidying and cooking for her family. There is also a sense of keeping order, as she recreates the wild, magical place (the “warm caves in the woods”) into a recognisable, conventional home with all the modern necessities. She is “rearranging the disaligned”. “A woman like that is misunderstood” says Sexton. Because the mother/wife figure is so busy recreating herself as a perfect version of that construct, her needs, her interests, her talents and her personality are overlooked — she is “misunderstood.” Again the refrain, “I have been her kind” tells us that Sexton herself has lived this reality. Anne Sexton suffered from severe depression after the births of each of her children, and had a nervous breakdown which led to her hospitalisation in 1955.

The last stanza makes me think of a mixture of all these constructs, but most of all that of the madwoman, “riding in your cart”, waving her arms at “the villages going by”. These images, coupled with the “flames” biting her thigh, help to create the idea of a witch being burned at the stake. You get a sense of a disgraced woman, an outcast. “A woman like that is not ashamed to die”, says the poet. Why is she not ashamed to die? Because there are no pretences any more — she is waving her “nude arms” at the villagers — everybody knows her disgrace. “I have been her kind”. Anne Sexton died by suicide. That makes this ending so tragic to me because it makes me feel like she never felt understood, she felt trapped by a construct, a postcard image of what she was meant to be an yet she couldn’t live up to it. It makes me feel like she thought herself as having been disgraced, paraded past the villagers to be burned, a failure. It’s so sad. Society has definitely changed for the better, but these feminine ideals still exist and continue to exist in our minds, and will do for a long time to come, I am sure.

‘Apologia’ by Oscar Wilde

Is it thy will that I should wax and wane,
Barter my cloth of gold for hodden grey,
And at thy pleasure weave that web of pain
Whose brightest threads are each a wasted day?

Is it thy will–Love that I love so well–
That my Soul’s House should be a tortured spot
Wherein, like evil paramours, must dwell
The quenchless flame, the worm that dieth not?

Nay, if it be thy will I shall endure,
And sell ambition at the common mart,
And let dull failure be my vestiture,
And sorrow dig its grave within my heart.

Perchance it may be better so–at least
I have not made my heart a heart of stone,
Nor starved my boyhood of its goodly feast,
Nor walked where Beauty is a thing unknown.

Many a man hath done so; sought to fence
In straitened bonds the soul that should be free,
Trodden the dusty road of common sense,
While all the forest sang of liberty,

Not marking how the spotted hawk in flight
Passed on wide pinion through the lofty air,
To where the steep untrodden mountain height
Caught the last tresses of the Sun God’s hair.

Or how the little flower he trod upon,
The daisy, that white-feathered shield of gold,
Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun
Content if once its leaves were aureoled.

But surely it is something to have been
The best beloved for a little while,
To have walked hand in hand with Love, and seen
His purple wings flit once across thy smile.

Ay! though the gorged asp of passion feed
On my boy’s heart, yet have I burst the bars,
Stood face to face with Beauty, known indeed
The Love which moves the Sun and all the stars!

I went to see a play called ‘The Judas Kiss’ a couple of evenings ago with my parents. It was about Oscar Wilde, about two key moments in his life. The first act followed the few hours before he went to prison, and the second act the few hours before Bosie (the man he loved desperately, and who’s fault it was that he was sent to prison for homosexuality) left him. I thought it was a brilliant play, and Rupert Everett played Wilde with a spot-on mixture of humour and tragedy.

So, this play got me thinking about Oscar Wilde, and how I know the gist of his biography, a few witty quotes; I love ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’, like everyone else, but I’d never read any of his poetry. When I was little, my granddad read ‘The Happy Prince’ to me, and I have never forgotten it. When I first heard a recording of ‘The Selfish Giant’ I was totally mesmerised. His children’s stories are so perfect; you can tell that he was a wonderful father when you read them. But, as I said, I never thought to read any of his poetry before.
Well, since the play, I have done. I also watched the 1997 movie ‘Wilde’ with Stephen Fry (which was so beautiful it made me cry) and read ‘De Profundis’ (or most of it).

This poem really stood out for me and so I thought I would put it on the blog. ‘Apologia’ is addressed to Oscar Wilde’s “Love that I love so well”. Does he mean Bosie — a lover? Or is he addressing his “Love” as an abstract object? I’m not sure that it matters, and perhaps it comes to the same. Wilde begins the poem by asking his Love if it is his will that he should be unhappy, that his “Soul’s House should be a tortured spot”. He says that if it is his Love’s will then his will endure it — he will “sell ambition”, wear “dull failure” instead, and let “sorrow dig its grave within my heart”. This is all very noble and sacrificing, but the poet takes it further and suggests that perhaps it is for the best that he should suffer this way. He defies the punishment that society has given him for his ‘crime’ of loving as his nature dictates. He says “at least/ I have not made my heart a heart of stone”. I love this line. There is something about the repetition and its simplicity that makes it so touching, that makes me believe him. Oscar Wilde is a hero for not constraining in “straightened bonds” his soul that “should be free”.

The third-to-last stanza is my favourite. It talks about living like the flowers, which is something that Christ talked about when he told his disciples to “consider the lilies”. In ‘De Profundis’, Wilde talks a lot about Jesus, most interestingly (to me) suggesting that he was the first Romantic, because of his individualism. I adore how Wilde describes the daisy flower as following “with wistful eyes the wandering sun”, and as being content “if only once its leaves were aureoled”. Here you get a sense of love being holy, with the image of the halo, and as being the only thing worthwhile in life. If love shines upon you once, then the rest of your life can be torture and it will have been worth it, you can still consider yourself blessed. Wilde’s poem ends triumphant and defiant. Society had humiliated him, imprisoned him, exiled him, and yet he wins, simply because he has “been best beloved for a little while”; he has: “stood face to face with Beauty” and known “The Love which moves the Sun and all the stars”.

‘A sad child’ by Margaret Atwood

You’re sad because you’re sad.
It’s psychic. It’s the age. It’s chemical.
Go see a shrink or take a pill,
or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll
you need to sleep.

Well, all children are sad
but some get over it.
Count your blessings. Better than that,
buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet.
Take up dancing to forget.

Forget what?
Your sadness, your shadow,
whatever it was that was done to you
the day of the lawn party
when you came inside flushed with the sun,
your mouth sulky with sugar,
in your new dress with the ribbon
and the ice-cream smear,
and said to yourself in the bathroom,
I am not the favorite child.

My darling, when it comes
right down to it
and the light fails and the fog rolls in
and you’re trapped in your overturned body
under a blanket or burning car,

and the red flame is seeping out of you
and igniting the tarmac beside your head
or else the floor, or else the pillow,
none of us is;
or else we all are.

I think this is just a great poem. I haven’t read many Margaret Atwood poems, but I read her novel The Handmaid’s Tale and loved that. I find what I have read of her poetry surprising and direct and very evocative. Especially the third stanza in this poem, with that incredible description of the little girl after the lawn party, her mouth “sulky with sugar”, her dress with the “ribbon/ and the ice-cream smear” telling herself in the bathroom that she is “not the favorite child”. It is such a poignant description of the moment in every child’s life when they realize that there is unfairness in the world; that bad things happen to good people. The image of the pretty dress she had put on being smeared with ice-cream powerfully evokes the idea of smashed dreams and perhaps loss of innocence.
The beginning of the poem presents all the things that are often said to children (and adults) when they are sad or depressed. We have all surely said or heard things like “it’s the age” and “it’s chemical”, and, of course, “you need to sleep”, many times. My favourite line in the whole poem is “hug your sadness like an eyeless doll”. It’s spooky and beautiful.

This poem made me think about a question that so many of us ask: if there is a benign, loving God out there, then why do good people suffer? Why am I not “the favorite child”, since I am so good? It is even more legitimate for children to ask this, because they really are innocent. Why do children suffer? Why do they get ill? Why do they die? Why do unspeakably horrible things happen to them? This poem presents everyone as equal, faced with this question. Who is the favourite? The truth is: “none of us is;/ or else we all are”. This is a comforting ending to the poem because it assures you that even when you are unjustly treated, when you are “trapped in your overturned body” and the “red flame is seeping out of you”, you are not alone. We are all equal before death. I love how the speaker addresses the child as “my darling”. She could be speaking to her own daughter, or to her former self as a child.

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