Monday, February 2, 2009

(Silent) poetry reading in honor of Brigid

Today is the Celtic holiday Imbolc, or St. Brigid's day, the patron saint of poetry and midwifery, among other things. (Garrison Keillor happened to write a nice summary in his "Writer's Almanac" today; here it is.) In honor of the day, many bloggers post a poem or two. Since I'm blogging, I get to play!

I was going to post some Emily Dickinson, but Mr. Keillor beat me to it; I was going to post a poem by Heid Erdrich--her poems from The Mother's Tongue, which I just started reading before I left, seem appropriate and they're GREAT. However, I do not have her permission to do that. I also thought of a great poem related to childbirth (sort of); but I think if I put it here, people looking for "pr0n" would find my site. (Here is the poem, just fyi.)

So here's my fourth try. It's about a different kind of birthing... The story is that Ms. Bradstreet wrote this poem after her brother-in-law, without her knowledge, had a book of her poems published back in England (she lived in "New England" in the 17th century); it was thereafter included as a preface to the subsequent editions. Enjoy!

The Author to Her Book
by Anne Bradstreet

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth i' th' house I find.
In this array 'mongst vulgars may'st thou roam.
In critic's hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

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