Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sonnet, “I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed,” serves as an excellent example of a multi-faceted piece. From one angle, it is simply a Petrarchan sonnet, written with a slight variation on rhyme scheme – but that variation, taken deeper, reveals new layers of meaning. Added to Millay’s choice of meter and end-stop, along with a background of Millay’s person, this sonnet seems not so “simple” after all. Millay, though she married in 1923, was known to have extramarital affairs, purportedly with both women and men.
In the context of this particular sonnet, such seems revealing indeed – for it seems the speaker of the sonnet is involved in some sort of affair. Or perhaps Millay’s sonnet is addressed to her husband, for it was published in 1923; however, that seems unlikely, since the sonnet frames a rejection of her lover. More likely, I see it as a final ‘goodbye’ to her lover before marriage, for she “find[s] this frenzy insufficient reason” to continue seeing him (or her).
Though Millay had an “open” marriage – that is, she and her husband consented to each other’s affairs – she likely did not want to begin her marriage with two lovers. This poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay is quite short and to the point. Millay wrote during a time when the discussion of female sexuality in poetry was extremely controversial, particularly when it involved the sort of free-spirited messages which Millay’s writing often did. In this poem, she discusses her inability to view a partner as more than someone to hook up with.
Although she had fun during her time with him, she does not find “this frenzy insufficient reason/ For conversation when [they] meet again.” She starts the poem by stresses that she was born female therefore couldn’t change her sex and because of her gender she is faced with problems and discrimination. Also she makes it clear that this poem is from a female point of view. The by saying that she’s distressed, she attracts sympathy from her audience and makes it seem as though she is a victim of her sex. Further in the poem she talks to her lover rather than us.
She continues to talk to him for the next couple of lines too. “Your person fair, and feel a certain zest” tells him that he’s rather good-looking and that she is beginning to get a bit restless to do certain adult things with him… It then changes from talking about Him to talking about how futile relationships really are Also in this poem, Millay discusses the idea of a separation between lust and mindful thinking Then, she tells us the consequences of this lust “And leave me once again undone, possessed.” Undone may either refer to her falling apart after she realises that he doesn’t love her back, or she’s literally left undone (her clothes anyway). Possessed is similar because it could either mean that she is, or could be, being controlled by him i.e. Patriarchal society. Or it refers to her being so in love she’d do anything without a second thought. . It is then after this, that we come to the break where we see her changing from being helpless and the submissive one in the relationship to the strong and dominant one. In other words, her strong, beating blood every time he was near (the lust) against her staggering brain, (the not-thinking-straight) and it was like the two were battling it out to see who would win. By the looks of things, the brain did, eventually.
Part of this is also parenthesis. She has taken back control of the relationship and that it actually means nothing anymore. She basically says to him “just because we’ve had sex, it doesn’t mean I love you”. She continues on with this idea as such: “My scorn with pity, – let me make it plain” I.e. she won’t be nice to him, she’s enjoying being the dominant one now, and she is mocking the relationship by mocking it. In other words, she isn’t going to talk to him again, and this shows she’s keeping control. Millay’s poetry is quite truthful to life in that she does not stop herself from writing things which could possibly sound undesirable. She was most definitely one of the first women writers to address the fact that females, like males, can also enjoy sexual relations outside of a committed relationship, and I find this openness quite worthy of respect. Throughout the poem, the woman goes through a series of different emotions from lust and love to confusion and strife.
The lust being described by her as such “Am urged by your propinquity…” I feel that she has managed to express her thoughts, views and emotions in a variety of ways to great effect. In just fourteen lines she has managed to say so much, by saying so little, which I think is one heck of an achievement. She has explored several themes, both political and personal, which some women (or men) could relate to, and if they do then they probably understand the poem a bit better than someone who doesn’t. Mullebrity
“Muliebrity” was derived from the latin word ‘muliebritas’ (womanhood) and mulier (woman), so the name suggests that it is about womanhood and the qualities of a woman. In Muliebrity we are looking at a girl living in rural India. Sujata Bhatt herself is obviously from India. The poem was written around the early 1960’s in Pune near Mumbai, India..The connotation of the title, status and power of a woman is reflected in the poem where the author uses the words ’greatness’ and ’power’. The poem has a very optimistic tone. This may suggest that the poets intention were to convey the importance of woman. In the poem we see the monotonous lifestyle of the village girl, and how she takes immense pride in performing her job.
The poem talks about the power of woman and the character of woman who takes pride in what they do even if it is just picking up the cow-dung. The poet speaks of a young lady, who does the tedious lineage of picking cow-dung outside a temple and the young lady is described in a actually reverent manner. We can speculate that the poet’s intention may have been to occupy girls intention’s.. In the third line of the poem Sujata bhatt is hinting at the fact that how she was blessed to have a house. She tells us that the girl would be there at the side of the road in the heat performing her task dutifully.
Lines five and six tell us how she has wondered over the girl who seemed so content with a job that would seem repungant to everybody else.(collecting cow dung)This reflects on the ability of a woman to perform unending tasks to sustain her family-irrespective of her own status. Bhatt is referred to as a sensual writer because she refers to the human senses quite a lot in her poems. in this poem the sense of smell is reflected by the poet .The odours in the poem obviously play a very important part in the structure of the poem. They(odours) hint at what a woman can withstand.
All of the smells hold negative connotations except for ‘wet canna lilies’ which smell kind of bittersweet and for the ‘freshly washed clothes’. Moreover the poet has used repetation. She has done this by using the word ‘dung’ several times in the poem. This word is repeated to accentuate the disgust felt towards it. Bhatt describes the smells surrounding the girl and this description is very intense when you think about all those smells surrounding you. “Most of all, unwilling to forget her or to explain to anyone…” again reiterates how the woman is unforgettable, but mostly shows how Bhatt is unable to tell others about what she saw in the woman, because she is so unfamiliar with someone displaying such confidence and grace, while doing something like picking up cow-dung. Each time she found a particularly promising mound of dung-” ends in a hyphen, not a full stop.
This suggests that there is more to come, due to the repetitive nature of her job. It is an odd sentence as there is nothing “promising” about a mound of cow-dung to others, but to the woman it is all she has, and can provide her and her family fuel to cook with and survive. In this poem there are only two people-the poet and the girl. Throughout the poem is only describing the girl and her actions. The poem is in the perspective of the poet and this is effective because as this perspective shows the reader what the poet herself is feeling.
The Women of Brewster Place: Novel Examines the Female African American Experience
The Women of Brewster Place is a tribute to the African-American female experience. The novel focuses on seven women, struggling to survive in a world that has never been kind to African-Americans or women. Their environment further complicates their lives. Brewster Place is an impoverished and threatening neighborhood. Each woman, in her own way, plays an integral part in the making of Brewster Place. The women are forced to rely on each other when the world seems to shut them out. Despite their differences, the women of Brewster Place are bound by a sense of community and sisterhood that enables them to deal with the everyday pressures they face in the male-dominated society in which they live.
This is best exemplified in the relationship between Cora Lee and Kiswana and the relationship between Mattie and Ciel. Being a single mother can be a stressful situation at times. In The Women of Brewster Place, Cora Lee is a single mother struggling to raise her children. As a child, Cora Lee only wanted one thing for Christmas every year, a new doll. On her thirteenth Christmas, her father denies her a new baby doll. When her mother tells her that she already has too many in her room, Cora informs her that “they don’t smell and feel the same way as the new ones” (109). Cora adopts this philosophy and soon after starts having babies of her own. She is obsessed with new babies and spends all of her time caring for the baby of the family.
Once a baby becomes a toddler, she is tired of the child, and she is ready for a new baby. When her story starts, she has seven children, many by different fathers. Cora Lee has relationship with two of the fathers but both had negative outcomes, for one beat her and the other left. The others are referred to as shadows: “And then only the shadows – who came in the night and showed her the thing that felt good in the dark, and often left before the children awakened, which was so much better…no more bruised eyes because of a baby’s crying. The thing that felt good in the dark would sometimes bring the new babies, and that’s all she cared to know” (113-4). In Cora’s mind, the men are simply a means to an end. Cora Lee has no interest in anything except her babies. When Kiswana Browne comes to Cora Lee’s door to tell her that one of her children has been eating out of a trashcan, Cora Lee is offended. She thinks that Kiswana is implying that she is a bad mother.
However, Kiswana is simply trying to be a good neighbor. She invites Cora Lee to bring the kids to an all black production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Because she wants to impress Kiswana and show her that she can be a good mother, Cora accepts the offer. After seeing the play, Cora Lee ” begins to think of the possibilities of her children that are no longer babies” (Christian 113). Kiswana’s concern helps Cora Lee to see the importance of all of her children, not just the babies. She also “contributes to restoring Cora Lee’s self-esteem both as a person and as a mother” (Andrews 289). Their relationship is another example of the ability of women to be there for each other in times of need when men are nothing more than “shadows.”
Cora Lee’s new found sisterhood with Kiswana enables her see the possibility of a better and brighter future. In “Lucielia Louise Turner,” we are reintroduced to the character of Ciel. We see her first as a young child in the chapter “Mattie Michael.” Mattie and Ciel, although they represent two different generations, rely on one another and complement each other. Mattie has a special way with words. She does not have to say a lot or talk too loudly to get her point across: “It was rare that Mattie ever spoke more than two sentences to anybody about anything.
She didn’t have to. She chooses her words with a grinding precision of a diamond cutter’s drill” (91). Ciel, on the other hand, has trouble expressing what she wants to say. Her words “kept circling in such a confusing pattern before her that she couldn’t seem to grab even one” (91).
Ciel plays the role of a child-seeking acceptance. She looks to Mattie for knowledge and wisdom about how to handle situations in her life. She values Mattie’s experience and often looks to her for motherly approval. And for Mattie, Ciel is like the perfect child. Mattie made many mistakes with her own son and now has the opportunity to correct those mistakes with Ciel. Now Ciel is an adult struggling in her relationship with her live-in boyfriend, Eugene. While Cora Lee wants nothing to do with the men in her life, Ciel is the complete opposite. Ciel and Eugene have a child together, and Ciel dreams that one day they will be a real family and that Eugene will be a wonderful husband and a loving father to their daughter, Serena. Ciel’s idealistic fantasy is crushed by the reality that Eugene has just lost his job and feels incapable of supporting her, Serena, and their unborn child.
Ciel does not want to face the reality of her situation. She feels that she has no other options. In an attempt to keep her dream alive, Ciel aborts her unborn baby in hopes of keeping Eugene. This experience causes her tremendous grief, and she is unable to go back to her life and feel normal: The next few days Ciel found it difficult to connect herself up again with her own world.… She became terribly possessive of Serena. She refused to leave her alone, even with Eugene. The little girl went everywhere with Ciel, toddling along on plump uncertain legs. When someone asked to hold or play with her, Ciel sat nearby, watching every move. She found herself walking into the bedroom several times when the child napped to see if she was still breathing. Each time she chided herself for this unreasonable foolishness, but within the next few minutes some strange force still drove her back. (95-96). Ciel becomes irrational and she lets her fears overtake her and consume her thoughts. Ciel knows that she has changed, but she is unable to stop herself.
Ciel reaches her lowest point when shortly after her abortion, Eugene announces that he is leaving town and is not taking her and Serena with him. She realizes that all she has done for him has been in vain. She is just about to get Serena and leave when she hears a scream. Serena has been electrocuted. While arguing with Eugene, she briefly takes her eyes off of Serena and her fears are realized. The death of Serena is a very tragic event that proves to be yet another shattered dream for Ciel, and once again it is caused, indirectly, by a man After Serena’s death, Ciel is literally dying of grief and pain. She “was simply tired of hurting” does not want to live anymore (101). This is when she needs Mattie the most. Mattie and Ciel have a strong bond, similar to that between Mattie and her son Basil. The same nurturing nature that Mattie showed with Basil is apparent in her actions toward Ciel.
She has a genuine desire to protect Ciel from hurt, harm, or danger: “Like a black Brahman cow, desperate to protect her young, she surged into the room, pushing the neighbor woman and the others out of her way” (103). The magnitude of Mattie’s maternal love for Ciel is made evident in this single gesture. Seeing that Ciel is slowly dying, right in front of her, Mattie reaches out to her and forces her to realize what she is doing to herself. Mattie literally rocks Ciel back to life and gets her to release the pain that she has been holding inside: She sat on the edge of the bed and enfolded the tissue thin body in her huge ebony arms. And she rocked.…Ciel moaned. Mattie rocked. Propelled by the sound, Mattie rocked her out of bed, out of that room, into a blue vastness just underneath the sun and above time….She rocked her into her childhood and let her see murdered dreams. And she rocked her back, back into the womb, to the nadir of her hurt, and they found it-a slight silver splinter, embedded just below the surface of the skin. And Mattie rocked and pulled – and the splinter gave way, but its roots were deep, gigantic, ragged and they tore up flesh with bits of fat and muscle tissue clinging to them.
They left a huge hole, which was already starting to pus over, but Mattie was satisfied. It would heal. (103-4) Mattie is attempting to heal the wounds that Serena’s death has left behind. Mattie then bathes Ciel and puts her to bed. This is another maternal action on the part of Mattie. However, in his essay on Black sisterhood, Andrews points out that the bond between Ciel and Mattie is more than mother daughter; it is woman to woman. They share similar experiences. Andrews argues that “what Mattie and Ciel come to share in Mattie’s act of primal mothering is their isolation, their burden of responsibility as mothers, and the loss of their children” (288).
The entire process of becoming clean symbolizes Ciel shaking off her old life and everything negative about it. For so long, her life has been dependent upon what her man wanted, and it led to her destruction. With Mattie’s help, Ciel is able to regroup and start over. Mattie also is able to help herself in the process: “To some degree when Mattie saves Ciel, she also saves herself, and the ritual bathing that she performs on Ciel becomes a testament to the healing powers of sisterly love and bonding, particularly in the face of a chauvinistic, male-centered world” (Wilson 48). The relationship between Mattie and Ciel exemplifies the powerful sisterhood and community that the women of Brewster Place share. In The Women of Brewster Place, the women find themselves in situations in which they feel isolated from the rest of the world.
They are forced to rely on one another. But they are also joined in community by loss. Every woman in Brewster Place has suffered or now suffers some loss. Yet the women Naylor writes about are not simply victims; one woman’s knowledge of pain and ability to survive can be passed on to another, just as Mattie’s understanding and strength help save Ciel and begin her healing. Also Kiswana’s knowledge of a better life rekindles Cora Lee’s belief in herself and her abilities as a mother.
In The Women of Brewster Place, Naylor sets out tell the story of the African-American woman and the struggles that she endures. In each of the stories, we see a woman overcoming an obstacle with the help of the women around her. Together the women of Brewster Place withstand the pressures of loss and pain that threaten to destroy their lives and overcome the barriers of living in a man’s world. Gloria Naylor as novelists woman of brewster place
Naylor’s debut novel The Women of Brewster Place was published in 1982 and won the 1983 National Book Award in the category First Novel. It was adapted as a 1989 film of the same name by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. During her career as a professor, Naylor taught writing and literature at several universities, including at George Washington University,New York University, Boston University, and Cornell University. Gloria Naylor’s stupendous novel, The Women of Brewster Place, is a collection of mini stories about how many independent women got to Brewster place. It explains the different struggles that each woman went through and/or goes through in life. The three main motifs in the novel are family, love, and religion. When it comes to family Naylor demonstrates the affects that a parent has when they are separated from their child.
She shows how love can play with a person’s action and attitudes. For example, Ben is a father who is separated from the one he loves most in life, his daughter. Every day he gets himself drunk to get rid of the memories he has of her because he cannot stand the thought of living without her. Religion is also a big part of the book because it causes conflict between the women. Naylor gives an example of the conflict caused by a character that is loyal to their religion and one who is homosexual. She explains how a religion can cause one to envy a person who does not follow the same belief as him or her. Gloria Naylor’s novel does a great job in explaining the three motifs and is thus an educational book The inspiring novel The Women of Brewster Place written by Gloria Naylor focuses on the struggles of young women living in Brewster place.
Although they have devastating struggles such as the absence of men and low poverty, the women of Brewster gains strength and grows from their experiences. The protagonist Mattie is the first African American women who we are introduced to in the novel. Being pregnant at an early age Mattie is abandoned by her family and is to live on her own. Along with the disappearance of men, Mattie becomes independent and is set to fend for herself and her newborn. This narrows her acceptance to her relationships toward others and when in need she turns her back toward an open hand. Although, Mattie is only one of many women of Brewster who faces this obstacle.
Life is filled with struggles and every person must face this obstacle, until one overcomes is when reality sets in. the author sends a message that represent the life of women and their struggles. All women of Brewster had a life changing experience that changed their life and was only able to move forward in life when they are overcome. Naylor allows the novel to have a deeper connection by having it began with women and their experiences and the generations after them; a continuous cycle of hardships The Woman of Brewster Placeis a life changing book that may inspire the life of women who endure hardships. Towards the denouement of the play the women is reunited and almost resembles a celebration of their overcoming. The Woman of Brewster Place is an inspiring life changing book for all to read and enjoy.