Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dirty Feminist Secrets

Certainly, I don’t believe that there are books that feminists should not read and enjoy. I have the liberal feminist Western perspective that all books should be available for people to read and enjoy and debate and discuss. Except, I must admit, there are poets that I love who are my ‘dirty feminist secrets.’ Poets who are not on the top ten lists of feminists and who in fact write about women in ways that I would consider clearly anti-feminist. Still I love them. This is the dissonance of ideology.

I don’t know if Jack Gilbert is one of those poets. I don’t know much about him. Though this article by Meghan O’Rourke at Slate makes me think that Gilbert is going to be one of my dirty feminist secrets.

The Academy of American Poets has a biography of Gilbert and some poems. The one below I fell in love with from The Writer’s Almanac.

Oh, Jack! I want to read more of you!

Poem: "Failing and Flying" by Jack Gilbert, from Refusing Heaven. © Alfred A Knopf. Reprinted with permission. (buy now) 

Failing and Flying 

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was 
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky 
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy. 
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, 
but just coming to the end of triumph.

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