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When we were deciding on our themes for this year, I tossed out a poem in the style of George Gordon, Lord Byron's "She walks in beauty", which begins "She walks in beauty, like the night". You can read the original here. It's a short poem - three stanzas of six lines each - and was allegedly written after Byron attended a party and met his cousin there. She was, at the time, in mourning for her husband - hence "like the night". He made an awful lot of assumptions about her internal state based on her pulled-together, likely serene appearance.

My version addresses what might have been going on with her before and after the party:
She Walks on Eggshells
by Kelly Ramsdell

I.

She walks on eggshells, tip-toeing
    her way through life, in hopes that none
will notice how she cannot bring
    herself to stand directly in the sun.
Her sole reward, a wedding ring
    that weighs her down so she can’t run.

II.

One minute more in this black dress
    Is more, she thinks, than she can bear.
Her cousin’s smiles cause her distress—
    He is enough to make her swear,
Though not out loud, of course. Useless
    to be female, she’s well aware.

III.

And now he’s published something new
    that raves about her peaceful mind,
her innocence. He has no clue
    that she is finally unconfined
by men: a widow, it is true,
    but one who cannot be divined.


You can find the poems by my poetry sisters at the following links:

Laura Purdie Salas with "She walks in glitter"
Sara Lewis Holmes with "Crede Byron"
Tanita Davis with "Daughters of Diogenese" &/or "Maat/Lady Justice"
Tricia Stohr-Hunt with an untitled poem about grief
Liz Garton Scanlon with "Mother Liberty"

Find the rest of the Poetry Friday posts by clicking the box below:





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Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Carol Varsalona
Jul. 7th, 2017 02:42 am (UTC)
Poetry Friday-She Walks on Eggshells
Kelly,
I found the way you used Lord Bryon's poem to write a backstory poem was intriguing. It flows so well that is a feat in itself.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Poetry Friday-She Walks on Eggshells
Thanks!
Linda Baie
Jul. 7th, 2017 03:35 am (UTC)
My high school choir "sang" that poem & I still remember much of it, but no one told us the background. I suspect we teens simply thought it was a wonderful love poem. The "inside" and "outside" of this cousin is something to imagine of many, isn't it? I liked it a lot, Kelly.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks - I never heard a song setting of the original poem, though I sang some Frost and Whitman.
Mitchell Linda
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:40 am (UTC)
She walks on eggshells
Oh, my. First off, I'll bet you're right. A new widow in that time and age must have felt completely trapped within the confines of mourning attire and tradition. I love how much you give voice to this woman who never had a chance to speak for herself. And, this type of poetry from this time period....I really struggle with. I have a difficult time finding "beautiful" in so many words that fit a format. But, the way you fit the meter and rhyme scheme is well done and delicate....just like what I picture that widow to be. I really hope that someday she can stand in the sun again.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:36 pm (UTC)
Re: She walks on eggshells
Thank you so much!
Molly Hogan
Jul. 7th, 2017 11:35 am (UTC)
I love how you questioned Byron's assumptions and brought us the widow's perspective. I've read this several times already--it's so rich and well crafted!
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Liz Garton Scanlon
Jul. 7th, 2017 11:36 am (UTC)
Yes!
First, I LOVE the title.
But also and most importantly the voice you've given her. It's powerful and lovely....
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Yes!
Thanks, Liz!
Sara Lewis Holmes
Jul. 7th, 2017 12:02 pm (UTC)
I love this, from the unexpected opening of "eggshells" to the double meaning of the ending "cannot be divined." Plus, you've done it all with precise meter and imagery. Well done!
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
Irene Latham
Jul. 7th, 2017 12:08 pm (UTC)
Nice! I love how you've give us more to the story... and wow, that meter and rhyme! No easy feat. Thank you for sharing!
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:37 pm (UTC)
I love working with form and rhyme - the challenge makes it fun!
lpsalas
Jul. 7th, 2017 02:28 pm (UTC)
Spot on with imagery and meter. And

And now he’s published something new
    that raves about her peaceful mind,
her innocence. He has no clue

those are my favorite three lines. The exasperation feels so...natural somehow. Love it!
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:37 pm (UTC)
Can't you just picture it, though?
TS Davis
Jul. 7th, 2017 05:18 pm (UTC)
I imagine her side-eye...
...serenely dressed in black, who knows what goes on behind that alabaster forehead.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:38 pm (UTC)
Re: I imagine her side-eye...
The thing is, black is for deep mourning, and she wouldn't have been at parties at that point. So I picture her in one of the less-deep mourning colors, somehow.
Joy Frelinger
Jul. 7th, 2017 08:31 pm (UTC)
Walks in beauty
I thought it was interesting this came up since I've been humming to myself all week the Walking On Sunshine song.
I like this project and think all of the poetry sisters have done a great job with it.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 7th, 2017 10:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Walks in beauty
Walk on!
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Jul. 8th, 2017 11:28 am (UTC)
I really dislike Byron, but you're background has intrigued me. Thank you for sharing it. I've now come to know this poem in an entirely new way. I do like your lady talking back to the writer about all the things he has wrong and cannot know about her. The third stanza is my favorite.

As always, I resisted this one, but am so grateful for the challenge.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 10th, 2017 11:17 pm (UTC)
Whether one likes Byron or not, the form of the poem was at least something workable (at least that was my thinking - and then of course it proved much more difficult than anticipated).
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Jul. 11th, 2017 01:31 am (UTC)
Yes, I was saved by the form!
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Jul. 11th, 2017 01:31 am (UTC)
That should be your. I hate when I make typos!
Mary Lee Hahn
Jul. 9th, 2017 11:02 am (UTC)
I am in awe every month at what the Poetry Sisters write, but this...playing with both form and POV. Wow.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 10th, 2017 11:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mary Lee!
lexlingua
Jul. 10th, 2017 04:12 pm (UTC)
This was a great poem, and utterly delightful to read!
kellyrfineman
Jul. 10th, 2017 11:17 pm (UTC)
Why THANK you!
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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