Monday, May 09, 2005

A Poem that Pleases

Well, I can't resist: here's a poem that pleases me quite a bit, which I've plucked from Emily Lloyd's Poesy Galore. It's by Emily herself (hats off!); if you check the comments to the original posting, called "Burn" (April 28, 2005), you can find a shorter version of it, simmered down to sonnet length, if you prefer.
Jane Eyre, Unbanned
--upon hearing of a bill to ban books with gay characters in Alabama libraries

You think of Mr. Rochester, mad wives
in attics, Jane herself, as plain as flan.
You don't remember Helen Burns, Jane's friend

from school. Reader, I married her. I pressed
my eighth-grade self between those pages like
a flower, left for later hands. Helen.

"I like to have you near me," she would cough,
romantically consumptive, after Jane
snuck to her sick-bed. "Are you warm, darling?"

We'll always find ourselves inside the book,
no matter what the book, no matter how
little we're given. I was twelve; gay meant

nothing to me. I only knew I'd go
to Lowood Institution, rise at dawn,
bare knuckles to the switch, choke down the gruel,

pray to the bell, if this meant I could hold
another girl all night, if I could clasp--
this even if she died there while I slept,
this even if I died there in my sleep.
>Isn't that just to swoon for? Even if I don't teach Jane Eyre (or any other pre-20th-c. romance) in my upcoming class, for reasons irrelevant here, I'll hang on to this for the next time I do--and I hope all you teachers out there will, too!


Emily Lloyd said...

Eric, I just found my way here. Thank you so much. Also: no quarrels with La Vendler yet on the above--thanks for blogging about it; I'm looking fwd to seeing what's on the way.

deanna said...

yes, this poem is to "swoon" for. It's amazing. I'm still digesting it. I'll comment later on it.

Deanna Bradberry