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January 20th, 2011

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02:38 pm - The Small Lady
My poetry group meets twice a month now. Once we read our own poetry and once a month we discuss other people's poems. Last night I read them Stevie Smith's poem The Small Lady, which I think is very funny and dark. Nobody else in the group had heard it before.

Thought you might like to read it.

The Small Lady

In front of the mighty washing machine
The small lady stood in a beautiful dream,
'That these clothes so clean (oh what a relief)
Must still be ironed, is my only grief.'

But then came a great witch passing on the air
Who said, 'What is it you still wish for, my pretty dear?
Would you like to be a duck on a northern lake,
A milky white duck with a yellow beak?'
'Aroint thee, false witch!' cried the lady with a brave face,
'Human inventions help properly, magic is a disgrace.'
The witch flew off cackling for the harm was done,
'I smell water,' cried the lady and followed her into the setting sun.
And now in a false shape, on the wind-driven black pelt
Of that far northern lake, she is without help;
Crying, Away, away,
Come, ray of the setting sun,
Over the lake
Spread thy red streak,
Light my kingdom.

Heart of my heart, it is a mournful song,
Never will this poor lady come home.

(8 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 20th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
My word! That poem is akin to watching the Children of Lir get gatecrashed by a Persil advert. :D
[User Picture]
Date:January 20th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
Surely the Persil advert is gatecrashed by the Children of Lir? The Persil ad was going to have a happy ending...
[User Picture]
Date:January 20th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
But perhaps she is better off on her cold and lonely lake, even if she isn't very happy.
[User Picture]
Date:January 20th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
If ironing was her only grief at home, I think she'd much rather be there.
[User Picture]
Date:January 20th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
I was reading something by Stevie Smith yesterday where she says that isolation is the begetter of poetry, and I think she sort of feels that the Lady is better off. But not happy though. I think Yeats thought the same too - kind of wanted to be taken away to a lonely horrid fairyland.
[User Picture]
Date:January 20th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was reading Yeats the same day: "Caoilte tossing his burning hair/ And Niamh calling Away, come away."
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2011 11:36 am (UTC)
That is awesome.
[User Picture]
Date:January 21st, 2011 11:39 am (UTC)
gair you are back! I did think of you when I posted it and wondered if you would like it.

Edited at 2011-01-21 11:39 am (UTC)

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