ENGL 102Gender and Poetic Voice “Eurydice” by H.D. “The Applicant” by Sylvia Plath “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law” by Adrienne Rich
Orpheus and Eurydice. Painting from 1806 by C. G. Kratzenstein-Stub, 1793-1860. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
“Landscape with Orpheus and Eurydice” by Nicolas Poussin. 1650/1.Louvre, Paris.
“Eurydice” by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) “H.D. sets out to reclaim lost voices of women, particularly of female figures who have been represented within male mythologies but whose viewpoints have been neglected if not suppressed” (Course Reader, page 103).
“Eurydice” by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) “The story of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of tragic love, in which the defeat of love is caused by its very intensity, and of male regret, after Orpheus’s involuntary look back banishes Eurydice again to the hell from which he has been trying to rescue her. H.D. presents the myth instead through the anger, disappointment, and resentment of Eurydice, who sees Orpheus’s gesture as a destructive carelessness if not dominating arrogance. The poem traces Eurydice’s progressive efforts to come to terms with her now irreversible fate” (C. Reader, 103).
“Eurydice” by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle): First section of the Poem So you have swept me back, I who have walked with the live souls above the earth, I who have slept among the live flowers at last; so for your arrogance and your ruthlessness I am swept back where dead lichens drip dead cinders upon moss of ash; so for your arrogance I am broken at last, I who had lived unconscious, who was almost forgot; if you had let me wait I had grown from listlessness into peace, İf you had let me rest with the dead, I had forgot you and the past.
Here only flame upon flame and black among the red sparks, streaks of black and light grown colorless why did you turn back, that hell should be reinhabited of myself thus swept into nothingness? why did you turn back? why did you glance back? why did you hesitate for that moment? why did you bend your face caught with the flame of the upper earth, above my face? what was it that crossed my face with the light from yours and your glance? what was it you saw in my face? the light of your own face, the fire of your own presence? what had my face to offer but reflex of the earth, hyacinth colour caught from the raw fissure in the rock where the light struck, and the colour of azure crocuses, and the bright surface of gold crocuses and of the wind-flower, swift in its veins as lightning and as white. “Eurydice” by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle): Second section of the Poem
So for your arrogance and your ruthlessness I have lost the earth and the flowers of the earth, and the live souls above the earth, and you who passed across the light and reached ruthless; you who have your own light, who are to yourself a presence, who need no presence; yet for all your arrogance and your glance, I tell you this: such loss is no loss, Such terror, such coils and strands and pitfalls of blackness such terror is no loss; hell is no worse than your earth above the earth, hell is no worse, no, nor your flowers nor your veins of light nor your presence, a loss; my hell is no worse than yours though you pass among the flowers and speak with the spirits above the earth. “Eurydice” by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle): Fifth section of the Poem
“Eurydice” by H.D.: Seventh (Last) section of the Poem At least I have the flowers of myself, And my thoughts, no god can take that; I have the fervour of myself for a presence and my own spirit for light; and my spirit with its loss knows this; though small against the black, small against the formless rocks, hell must break before I am lost; before I am lost, hell must open like a red rose for the dead to pass.
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) • American poet, born in Boston. • Manic-depressive, suicidal, attempted to commit suicide many times. • Considered to be writing “confessional poetry” (like John Berryman) • Wrote and published her first poem at the age of 8 (when she lost her father) • Married the English poet Ted Hughes in 1956 • Had two children (a daughter born in 1960 and a son born in 1962). • The couple broke up soon after the second child was born. • Poems: “Lady Lazarus” “Ariel” “Daddy” “Lesbos” “Edge” • She reads her own poem, “Daddy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hHjctqSBwM • Autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar published under the pseudonym Victorial Lucas in 1963.
Adrienne Rich (1929- • Poet, essayist and feminist • Got married in 1953 to an economy professor at Harvard • She had three sons, born in 1955, 1957, 1959. • Rich’s domestic life became a challenge for her to continue writing • In 1966, she moved to New York City with her family and became involved in the activism of the day, anti-war and civil rights movements. • Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law: published in 1963 • “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Revision” (1971): important essay in which she challenges assumptions about women writers. • In 1974 her collection Diving into the Wreck got the National Book Award for Poetry. She refused to award individually, accepted it with two other female poets, Alice Walker and Audre Lorde on behalf of silenced women. • 1976: openly declared herself as a lesbian (Twenty-One Love Poems (1977). • Since then she has been sharing a life with Michelle Cliff, her partner, poet and novelist.
In 1997, Adrienne Rich refused the National Medal of Arts, because... • “I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House because the very meaning of at, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration..... Art means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of the power which holds it hostage.”
In answer to the question: “In What Is Found There you write that “poetry is banned in the United States,” that it is “under house arrest.,” Adrienne Rich answers: (1994) Adrienne Rich: “When you think about almost any other country, any other culture, it’s been taken for granted that poets would take part in the government, that they would be sent here and there as ambassadors by the state proudly, that their being poets was part of why they were considered valuable citizens--Yeats in Ireland, Neruda in Chile, St.-John Perse in France. At the same time, poets like Hikmet in Turkey, Mandelstam in the Soviet Union, Ritsos in Greece, and hundreds of others have been severely penalized for their writings, severely penalized for a single poem. But here it’s the censorship of “who wants to listen to you, anyway?”--of carrying on this art in a country where it is perceived as so elite or effete or marginal that it has nothing to do with the hard core of things. That goes hand in hand with an attitude about politics, which is that the average citizen, the regular American, can’t understand poetry and also can’t understand politics, that both are somehow the realms of experts, that we are spectators of politics, rather than active subjects. I don’t believe either is true.”
About “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law”: In her essay “When We Dead Awaken:Writing as Re-Vision,” Adrienne Rich relates that writing her poem, “Snapshots of a Daughter-In-Law,” was an “extraordinaryrelief” (175). “Until then,” she writes, “I had tried very much not to identify myself as afemale poet” (175).