Thursday, March 13, 2008

Michael Field

I misplaced my Michael Field’s sheet, so I found another poem by Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper, entitled “…And On my Eyes, Dark Sleep Tonight”.
At a glance, the poem seems like a typical love poem. However, knowing the poem is written by two women changes everything. The poets speak of wanting sleep, in order to dream about the “pleasure that day denies” (line 4). This shows the authors bowing to traditional norm standards. The authors feel that they cannot communicate their love because lesbianism is not accepted in late 19th century England. This is why they discuss the dream as a tool for carrying out their desires (“O bring the lips I could not take” (line 5)). Because of the social attitudes of the time, the authors write their poem in the form of a dream in order to live a separate longing that reality is not able to allow. This is because only in a dream can societal calls for normality be silenced and the author/dreamer may create their own reality. This is why the authors do not wish to wake from their slumber (stanza 3). When the day comes, not only does the sun shine upon them, but also the societal norms they are forced to live in day in and day out. The 11th line mentions the Greek mythology figure Phaon. Phaon was an ugly boat ferry that crossed Aphrodite into Asia Minor. Once she made it, she offered Phaon a box of oils. After applying the oils to his face, Phaon changed from a hideous man to one of the most handsome. This can also represent the two authors. They are aware that their lesbianism is not accepted. However, if they are able to change their image or shift their gender they be accepted in society. Nevertheless, they may only dream, as they silence their ability to speak as a lesbian couple.

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