Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mary inspires

I've come across a cycle of poems illustrating various episodes in Mary Wollstonecraft's life. Nancy Means Wright has been writing about our heroine for 20 years now. These two dozen were originally published by New Spirit Press in 1992.

Here's a taste from "The Crossing":

I had sailed for Portugal:
thirteen extravagant days
at sea among puling
companions. Myself, I was
never better: I swallowed
sea air like the whale
engulfing Jonah; my brain
punched like a bellyful
of salty men. Then found my
Fanny already in labour,
mother and child
past my keel
like a pair
of bleeding fish.

It's vivid stuff, each poem prefaced by a few sentences placing the episode in the context of Mary's life and times. Many are from her point of view, but others see the world through unexpected eyes: those of her father as an apprentice boy, sleeping under a silk-weaver's loom, or publisher Johnson, opening his door in the cathedral close to find her standing there unannounced, returned from abroad, ready to begin her new life.

1 comment:

  1. I'm delighted to discover this thoughtful, beautifully written blog re: one of my longtime heroines. Wollstonecraft was a brilliant, original (yet 'conflicted'--I love her flaws) 18th century woman--still highly relevant in our 21st c. She has long been my role model. I'm pleased, too, that Roberta has found my poems on MW's life, and wish to thank her for her kind comments. Cheers, Nancy