Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Great Grief Has Made the Empress Mute, by June Jordan

Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck - Mélodie, from Orfeo ed Euridice
with Ginette Neveu, violin

dedicated to the Empress Michiko and to Janice Mirikitani

Because it was raining outside the palace
Because there was no rain in her vicinity

Because people kept asking her questions
Because nobody ever asked her anything

Because marriage robbed her of her mother
Because she lost her daughters to the same tradition

Because her son laughed when she opened her mouth
Because he never delighted in anything she said

Because romance carried the rose inside a fist
Because she hungered for the fragrance of the rose

Because the jewels of her life did not belong to her
Because the glow of gold and silk disguised her soul
Because nothing she could say could change the melted
              music of her space
Because the privilege of her misery was something she could
              not disgrace
Because no one could imagine reasons for her grief
Because her grief required no imagination
Because it was raining outside the palace
Because there was no rain in her vicinity

poem from


Roxana said...

such wonderful music, and so fitting! (i listened! :-)

and i can hardly believe the coincidence, since this:

has been on my mind these past days. and i've been doing a lot of reading on the subject, it has turned into a nightmare for me now, i can't get this out of my head.

Manuela said...

i'm glad you listened :)

and what a coincidence, indeed - not that it would be the first time, or the last, but wow!

and that poem, it gave me the shivers... is it the poem you can't get out of your head, or are you reading about foot binding?

on reading the poem i was thinking, how interesting that the only way to escape the bounds imposed on her, on who she is and can be, is to imagine herself in similarly strict male roles - war, warrior, ambition, hordes. that for me added to the sadness and inevitability of the poem.

Roxana said...

both. and the horrible details of the foot-binding, how it was done. i had no idea that virtually for 1000 years almost 90percent of the women in China (those in the Han populations anyway) were subjected to this. i can't put this out of my mind. si uitandu-ma la Clara acum, pentru ca la varsta ei incepea procesul... imaginandu-mi... deci toata aceasta suferinta, nu exista nimic care s-o poata justifica sau sterge de pe fata pamantului, nu se poate rascumpara cu nimic. aveam o perspectiva neagra asupra umanitatii si inainte, dar acum. pana la urma razboaiele le poti cumva intelege, exista justificari, sub orice forma ar fi ele. dar a chinui sute de ani copii si a-i condamna la o viata de infirmi - asta este dincolo de... nu stiu.

A.Z. Foreman said...

If it makes you feel better, Luo Qilan found other ways to transcend the bounds of gender- one of which was poetry.

Speaking of music and poetry, this recent post of mine may interest you:

A.Z. Foreman said...

sorry I meant this post

m said...

Thank you, A.Z., I enjoyed re-visiting your blog - your relationship with language is pretty amazing!