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Lord Byron




Lord Byron may know what he is talking about- should I heed his warning????


To the Young Wife



1Are you content, you pretty three-years


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I'm 99.9% sure Lord Bryon did NOT write this poem. Check out this website: It's from the Representative Poetry Online page for Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) and you can click on the poem "To the Young Wife" there. It's the same.


Charlotte was an American feminist movement writer. From her on-line biography it says she was an "American writer, economist, and lecturer, an early theorist of the feminist movement, who wrote over two hundred short stories and some ten novels. Gilman refused to call herself a "feminist" - her goal as a humanist was to campaign for the cause of women's suffrage. Gilman saw that the domestic environment has become an institution which oppresses women." Look at the poem again in the light of the feminst sufferage movement and it puts a whole different light on it. I don't know Bryon's work all the well, but I think his style was far more 'flowery' than this poem.


I have no idea how many women's history books I have in my library (a hundred maybe, both modern and up to 150 years old) and Charlotte's work is among them. I, personally, think the feminists who fought so hard and long to give us women the freedoms we enjoy now are far more interesting than Lord Bryon. (Those women had guts!!!!!) And their work is easier to understand than the English elitists. But to each is own. Variety is the spice of life. I just happen to think that historical literature and non-fiction is more interesting when you have connection the subject matter.




P.S. biggrin.gif But wait! I know your......

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i clicked on that website and read some of her other poems. it's amazing that when you know who the poet is and read some more of their works, how the poem takes on a different tone and implies a different meaning. this poet sounds like someone whom i would have a lot in common with. i noticed that she died of suicide and, i believe, had breast cancer. i was wondering whether or not you knew the circumstances of her suicide.


taking the poem on it's face value, though, without that little cynical, sarcastic tone...i would still give the same response...and i did so like printing it in big, red letters





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Charlotte was an early advocate for the Right-to-Die movement (long before she was sick herself) and she was a pragmatism. She killed herself with an over-dose of chloroform. She left this suicide note: "When all usefulness is over, when one is assured of unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one. I have preferred chloroform to cancer."


One of her most famous books was a fictionalized version of her own mental breakdown. You, being a shrink, might find it interesting and it's still available in paperback at THE YELLOW WALLPAPER AND OTHER STORIES (unabridged) is pretty much 'required' feminist reading. It is important because she is an icon of the modern women's movement. The back cover of the book says the story is "a harrowing descent into madness." I like her non-fiction better than her fiction. I'm in awe of how smart/educated, independent and dedicated these the turn-of-the-century feminists were.


Here's something from her on-line biography: "After the birth of their daughter Katharine, she was beset by depression, and began treatment with Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell in 1886. His recommendations, 'live as domestic a life as possible' and 'never touch a pen, brush or pencil as long as you live' Gilman later satirized this in her autobiography, and used the discussions in her most renowned short story, 'The Yellow Wallpaper.....'" Kind of makes you wonder when doctors started prescribing "get a hobby" for post-partum depression, doesn't it. I know from stories told in my family that they were doing it by the 1940's. biggrin.gif




Sorry, Pam, I think we kidnapped your blog. But then there are no hi-jacking rules here. biggrin.gif


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Well Charlotte sounds interesting. How do you know all this stuff???? Just so you don't think I'm a complete and utter idioy, I think it was America I was on and reading Byron's poem and Shelly's ans Keat's. So I thought I was giving credit to the right one. Besides I was being forgiving to Byron cause of the times he lived for writing such a poem.

Gee, I also stumbled over a racy poem all about sex by Walt Whitman. See mom? No, British elitist snob here, I am giving equal time to American writers......

But I still love Shelly the best, I'll read his stuff over the other three anyday.


PS. To the copyright gods.... I apologize for giving credit to the wrong author. I will try to be more careful.

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Hi Pam,


Writing styles are like painting styles. You read enough poetry or prose by certain people and you get so you can pick their work out without seeing the author's name. I'll bet you can do that with Shelly---if you were given three poems and asked to choose which one he wrote.


With the above poem, I knew right off it was printed on an early feminist pamphlet, the kind handed out at lectures by those trouble making ladies who thought women should be allowed to vote and do other pesty things the men didn't want us to do. During my "I want to be a famous author" era I studied (and started collecting) a ton of turn-of-the-century feminist works because a character in a book was I writing at the time was one of them. Women's history, like any other minority group's, is filled with both fascinating and frustrating stuff. Fascinating because white bread male publishers for centuries left this material out of mainstream history books and frustrating because they did.




P.S. Glad to see you are trying Walt Whitman. He used to be one of my favorites back in my "I want to be a famous poet" era.


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i went on and ordered the book for 2.76 plus shipping-i'll let you know what i think of it when i read it


sandy cloud9.gif


ps-i was not really into poetry since high school. i think i can only pick out e e cummings's and sylvia plath's poems without an attribution. i am much more literate, though, in science fiction

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Just keep in mind that fiction writers have evolved (or unevolved, depending on your point of view) a long way in the past 100 years. The pace of the writing might take some getting used to and don't expect as much detail as modern writers give. But with many of that female writers of that era, it's fun just trying to read between the lines. Comparing how women's illnesses were treated back then to how they are now will make the read worth your time. It's a quick read, too.


Another interesting thing about the baby's birth that gave Charlotte post partum depression in real life, not the fictionalized version---a few years later she turned that daughter over to her x-husband and his new wife to raise, creating a huge scandal.




P.S. I hadn't read poetry in decades either until I came here and Pam kind of dragged me kicking and screaming back into thinking about poets/poems again. She's been studying the English poets and I've been trying to goat/shame/tease/bribe/threaten her into trying the American's. lol_2.gif



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Need to report just watched a show on Mark Twain's life, I am giving equal time to American writers...... You shamed me into not becoming an elitist British snob..... Ha! Although in my opinion, I like the British writers better then American so far. Poetry was never my thing but Peter introduced me to it and as he is somehow related to Byron, I had to check out his stuff, which in turn led me to Keat's and Shelly... I didn't know that Walt Whitman wrote "Oh Captain, my Captain"

The internet amazes me with the things one can learn. We are lucky to have it.


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