Voices of American Women Yesterday and Today
edited by Catherine Clinton, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn
Harry Abrams Publishing, 2003
Following chronological order, this collection features poems of twenty-five women over the last three hundred years. There is a definite focus on modern poets with half of the poems from the last fifty years, but a good sampling overall. The poetry and illustration is pretty sophisticated, and would find the best audience in the middle to high school reader. Biographies of the poets are listed at the back of the book which "reveal not only individuals, but, together, comprise a particularly intriguing story of America, a story of courage in the face of hardship, a story which traces varieties of creative expression unfolding over three centuries.” (I liked that phrasing from the introduction too much to paraphrase it.)
Here's a poem for today:
I, being born a woman and distressedPoetry Friday Round-up is hosted today at my juicy little universe.
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body’s weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave my one again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity, - let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1923)
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