A poetry blog ran by Kelsey Merrow

- Works cited
- Why these poems?
“Widow” by Sylvia Plath

Widow. The word consumes itself —-

Body, a sheet of newsprint on the fire

Levitating a numb minute in the updraft

Over the scalding, red topography

That will put her heart out like an only eye.

Widow. The dead syllable, with its shadow

Of an echo, exposes the panel in the wall

Behind which the secret passages lies—stale air,

Fusty remembrances, the coiled-spring stair

That opens at the top onto nothing at all….

Widow. The bitter spider sits

And sits in the center of her loveless spokes.

Death is the dress she wears, her hat and collar.

The moth-face of her husband, moonwhite and ill,

Circles her like a prey she’d love to kill

A second time, to have him near again —-

A paper image to lay against her heart

The way she laid his letters, till they grew warm

And seemed to give her warmth, like a live skin.

But it is she who is paper now, warmed by no one.

Widow: that great, vacant estate!

The voice of God is full of draftiness,

Promising simply the hard stars, the space

Of immortal blankness between stars

And no bodies, singing like arrows up to heaven.

Widow, the compassionate trees bend in,

The trees of loneliness, the trees of mourning.

They stand like shadows about the green landscape —-

Or even like black holes cut out of it.

A widow resembles them, a shadow-thing,

Hand folding hand, and nothing in between.

A bodiless soul could pass another soul

In this clear air and never notice it —-

One soul pass through the other, frail as smoke

And utterly ignorant of the way it took.

That is the fear she has—the fear

His soul may beat and be beating at her dull sense

Like Blue Mary’s angel, dovelike against a pane

Blinded to all but the grey, spiritless room

It looks in on, and must go on looking in on.

“A Date” by Kevin McFadden

The first seated takes the chance he’ll be

stood up. She’s getting on with the hope she may

get off. One and one make one

in this riddle. Or, more closely, comedy routine:

first, impressions; second, observations.

Impolite to have thirds. Bachelors and bachelorettes

beware: more than tonight they can mess up your order.

Who would go for the lobster expects the claws.

No pets allowed, keep your shirt on, places this strict—

like loony bins—require a jacket, sir. Mark sudden pauses,

gaps in the flap, commas where a sutra might be…

and what shall we make of it, love, perhaps?

What elevator is this anyway, that even the prospect

of going down has made you high?

            The poem “A Date” by Kevin McFadden is a very comical look at a different view on dates and dating in general. I really like this poem because of how lighthearted and funny it is. The speaker in the poem has kind of a bleak look on dating, opening the poem by saying “the first seated takes the chance he’ll be / stood up.”. I think the poem is from more of a realist point of view however, being that this can be the reality of dating. I really also love the line “who would go for the lobster expects the claws.”.

“Somewhere or Other” by Christina Rossetti

Somewhere or other there must surely be

    The face not seen, the voice not heard,

The heart that not yet—never yet—ah me!

    Made answer to my word.

Somewhere or other, may be near or far;

    Past land and sea, clean out of sight;

Beyond the wandering moon, beyond the star

    That tracks her night by night.

Somewhere or other, may be far or near;

    With just a wall, a hedge, between;

With just the last leaves of the dying year

    Fallen on a turf grown green.

            In this poem by Christina Rossetti, the speaker is going on about how someone who we’re are “meant” to be with might be closer than we think, and we just haven’t met them yet. I think this poem is a really interesting concept, even though it’s a bit cliché. I feel like even though this poem is very cliché, it’s very relatable. The author uses extremes, such as “land” and “sea”, but also uses words like “wall” and “hedge” and “moon” and “star”. I think the writing style is really interesting and draws the reader in. There’s also a lot of detail used in this poem.

“Outwitted” by Edwin Markham

"He drew a circle that shut me out—

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in!”

            This short poem called “Outwitted” by Edwin Markham tells about the speaker becoming infatuated with a stereotypical “bad boy” who ends up shutting the speaker out. The speaker says that they however have the upper hand, because the speaker has love on his side and enough wit to get what they want. The speaker says that like their love interest, they too drew a circle that took him in. I really like this poem because it’s short and sweet, but it’s still affective in it’s message. It’s very relatable in that I think a lot of people can relate to having feelings for someone who may not share the same feelings for them back at first, or maybe even ever.

“What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

"What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

Under my head till morning; but the rain

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

Upon the glass and listen for reply,

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain

For unremembered lads that not again

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,

Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:

I cannot say what loves have come and gone,

I only know that summer sang in me

A little while, that in me sings no more.”

            In the poem “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, the speaker in the poem reflects back on their younger years on her life and all the different lovers that she had. She says that she has forgotten their faces and their names, however every once in a while, she will miss them. She compares the past men to a lonely tree in winter, saying that like the tree that doesn’t know all the birds that once had occupied it and then left, then leaving it lonelier than before, they too were to never be seen again. The poem has a really sad undertone about the speaker’s loneliness and sadness about getting older. I think this poem is really interesting in that it’s still a love poem in a sense, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

“The Hourglass” by Ben Jonson

"Consider this small dust here running in the glass,

By atoms moved;

Could you believe that this the body was

Of one that loved?

And in his mistress’ flame, playing like a fly,

Turned to cinders by her eye:

Yes; and in death, as life, unblessed,

To have it expressed,

Even ashes of lovers find no rest.”

            In Ben Jonson’s poem, “The Hourglass”, he compares the hourglass, a simple device used to measure time in grains of sand to that of lovers. The speaker says that like an hourglass, people too eventually become reduced to ash. The speaker says that like that of an hourglass who’s dust never truly settles, the death of a lover and the pain it brings can sometimes never truly settle. I think the hourglass is also important because it still carries on an tells time, just like how life continues to carry on and move forward even if someone experiences loss. I think this poem is a really interesting perspective into the author’s viewpoint on love and death. I also think the word choice that the author chose made the poem really interesting to read as well.

“Poem” by Jill Alexander Essbaum

"A clementine

Of inclement climate

Grows tart.

A crocus

Too stoic to open,


Like an oyster

That cloisters a spoil of pearls,


The heart that’s had


Stays shut”

            In Jill Alexander Essbaum’s short poem “Poem”, the speaker compares a heart that has been through a lot to different things that you wouldn’t typically compare to being hurt from love. In the first stanza, she says that like a clementine that grows bitter from being in a less than perfect setting, the heart too will grow bitter. Like a flower that is unmoved and unwilling to open, the heart can do the same. Like an oyster that’s filled with pearls, yet goes untouched, the speaker closes the poem by saying that the heart too will stay shut. I think this is a really good poem because of the use of metaphors that the author takes advantage of. Comparing a piece of fruit or an oyster to a worn heart is very unique and definitely something out of the ordinary.

“Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson

"Because I could not stop for Death—

He kindly stopped for me—

The Carriage held but just Ourselves—

And Immortality.

We slowly drove—He knew no haste

And I had put away

My labor and my leisure too,

For His Civility—

We passed the School, where Children strove

At Recess—in the Ring—

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—

We passed the Setting Sun—

Or rather—He passed us—

The Dews drew quivering and chill—

For only Gossamer, my Gown—

My Tippet—only Tulle—

We paused before a House that seemed

A Swelling of the Ground—

The Roof was scarcely visible—

The Cornice—in the Ground—

Since then—‘tis Centuries—and yet

Feels shorter than the Day

I first surmised the Horses’ Heads

Were toward Eternity—”

            In this poem by Emily Dickinson, the speaker tells a story about how they were met by death, and how death came to get them in a horse drawn carriage. The carriage slowly takes the speaker through the town past a school, some fields, and then the sun setting. The speaker notes that they are underdressed, and that it’s actually quite cold outside. They two finally arrive at the site where the speaker will be buried. At the end of the poem, the speaker acknowledges that they have past on many years before, but they say that it still seems like it just happened. I really like this poem because I think it’s really interestingly written, and the topic is really quite interesting. I think the personification of death is a common theme in poetry, however I think this poem sets itself apart because of the journey the person goes on until they reach their final stop at their grave

“The Heart” by Jill Alexander Essbaum

"Four simple chambers.

A thousand complicated doors.

One of them is yours.”

            In the poem “The Heart”, Jill gives a powerful poem in just a few words. The poem describes how complex love can be. It starts off saying that the heart is just four chambers, which comes off as a bit strange when you first read it because while the heart is four chambers, you don’t typically think of it as something “simple”. The speaker then says that while it is “four simple chambers” it has “a thousand complicated doors”. I think the speaker is trying to say that while love may seem simple, there are many different outcomes. I think this is reinforced with the last line, where the speaker says “one of them is yours”. I really like this poem because I think it accurately describes how life and love are both complex things, and there are always an infinite amount of outcomes.

“You fit into me” by Margaret Atwood

"you fit into me

like a hook into an eye

a fish hook

an open eye”

            In Margaret Atwood’s short poem, “You fit into me”, the poem seems like it’s a cute love poem at the start, but takes a twist when the reader realizes that the speaker literally means a fish hook to the eye, and not the fastening keeping clothing together. I really like this poem because I think it accurately portrays the duality of love and relationships. They can seem as necessary as something holding your clothing together, but in the same turn, they can also cause you great pain and heartbreak. I think this poem is really interesting and I like it a lot because of how short it is, because it really packs the punch of the true meaning behind it.