Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Poetry Blogging

The Witch

I HAVE walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitful earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.
I dare not stand in the blast.
My hands are stone, and my voice a groan,
And the worst of death is past.
I am but a little maiden still,
My little white feet are sore.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have,
Who plead for their heart's desire.
She came--she came--and the quivering flame
Sunk and died in the fire.
It never was lit again on my hearth
Since I hurried across the floor,
To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

Picture found here.


Cari said...

Oh! What a strange and poignant poem. I wonder if she was related to Samuel Taylor. Reads like the same time period, so maybe?

Anonymous said...

Cari, MEC is the great-grandniece of STC.

What with all the talk of Othering in modern discourse, this is a gem of a poem. HDD, have you discussed this w your poetry group? I spent the last few hours reading MEC/Victorian poetry reviews and even found a link to a dissertation. Here's an excerpt:

While the poetry of abject subjectivity allows speakers to traverse boundaries, the poetry of intersubjectivity gathers multiple discourses inside of one identity. The first focuses outward and forever expands; the second focuses inward through a speaker who uses all available modes of expressing the self to create many selves. ~KDBaker

Given the Victorian angle, her relationship to STC, and the suggestion that this poem references a poem by STC, how does the third stanza translate to you? One interpretation is that MEC's gain (as a Victorian poetess) is accompanied by loss, another is that she is both insider and outsider simultaneously, and with that realization, old definitions of home/comforts/life are extinguished.

She is also quoted as having written in a letter, "The life of what is dead terrifies. The death of what is living terrifies." Brilliant.

Vesta & the flame. Eve & the apple.
Such thready goodness.