Friday, August 17, 2012

Poetry Friday: An Ancient Gesture

An Ancient Gesture

I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
Penelope did this too.
And more than once: you can't keep weaving all day
And undoing it all through the night;
Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;
And along towards morning, when you think it will never be light,
And your husband has been gone, and you don't know where, for years.
Suddenly you burst into tears;
There is simply nothing else to do.

And I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
This is an ancient gesture, authentic, antique,
In the very best tradition, classic, Greek;
Ulysses did this too.
But only as a gesture,—a gesture which implied
To the assembled throng that he was much too moved to speak.
He learned it from Penelope...
Penelope, who really cried.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

You can find a poem I wrote about Penelope here.

And here is today's Poetry Friday roundup.


Tabatha said...

I love Edna St. Vincent Millay, but I hadn't read this one before. Thanks, Ruth! It's a beauty.

jama said...

Such a poignant, powerful poem. Hadn't seen this one before either. Thanks so much, Ruth.

Linda B said...

I've never heard of this one, and I went back & read your poem, too, Ruth. Both are wonderful, & sad in their own way. I liked the crisp sarcasm of yours, Penelope keeping on through all those years, yet quite a bit disgusted too. Thanks!

I'm Jet . . . said...

Wow. Powerful stuff.

Mary Lee said...

The ties that bind us, human to human, gesture by gesture. We are one.

Wow. Thanks for this poem on this day. You struck a chord with me.