Continuing my posts of bleakness, I thought I’d put out Wisconsin poet Lorine Niedecker’s poem. The textbook gave her a brief biography. A quiet woman who lived a quiet life – managing a library here, being a housewife there. She did some experimental work in the sixties and wrote some radio plays.
This is a poem that has a very modern feel to it, very open in form, very fast and loose with it’s imagery. It skips around from thought to thought to let us think about the various “sorrow” themes. The poem too moves in waves – hope, sorrow, hope, sorrow. It reminds us that we are not alone in our misery and that there are others who are worse off (our sorrow for them may be but a “thimble in [their] purse.”).
In the end it proposes a solution just as we all hope that there is one. Some times, it’s just best to get cleaning – chop wood, carry water – do what needs to be done in spite of all the pain. At least, it accomplishes something. And there is some comfort in that.
Sorrow Moves in Wide Waves
by Lorine Niedecker
Sorrow moves in wide waves,
it passes, lets us be.
It uses us, we use it,
it’s blind while we see.
Consciousness is illimitable,
too good to forsake
tho what we feel be misery
and we know will break.
Old Mother turns blue and from us,
“Don’t let my head drop to the earth.
I’m blind and deaf.” Death from the heart,
a thimble in her purse.
“It’s a long day since last night.
Give me space. I need
floors. Wash the floors, Lorine!
Wash clothes! Weed!”