Saturday, February 2, 2008

Silent Poetry Day

Hey, I just found out today is 'Blogger's Silent Poetry Day'. Basically all you have to do to participate is post a poem you like or you have written on your blog today. In honor of BSPD, I will post one of my mom's favorite poems from Edna St. Vincent Millay and the reason she named me Penelope. It's about Queen Penelope from the Illiad and how hard it was for her for all those years while Ulysses was missing and thought dead during and after the Trojan War.

An Ancient Gesture
I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
Penelope did this too.
And more than once: you can't keep weaving all day
And undoing it all through the night;
Your arms get tired, and the back of your neck gets tight;
And along towards morning, when you think it will never be
And your husband has been gone, and you don't know where,
for years.
Suddenly you burst into tears;
There is simply nothing else to do.

And I thought, as I wiped my eyes on the corner of my apron:
This is an ancient gesture, authentic, antique,
In the very best tradition, classic, Greek;
Ulysses did this too.
But only as a gesture,—a gesture which implied
To the assembled throng that he was much too moved to speak.
He learned it from Penelope...
Penelope, who really cried.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay


  1. Thank you! This poem is new to me, and I am so thankful for it. Love your blog too!

  2. That's a good one! I had not read it before. Thank you!

  3. Love it! I didn't know the weaving/unweaving reference either -- it's used a number of times in literature.