Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Michael Field's "My Darling"

After our brief discussion of "My Darling" in class, I felt compelled to discuss the poem a little bit more. Bernard and I found it extremely funny and strange that so many people thought that the name 'Atthis' was a misspelling and took the word to mean 'At this.' Viewing the name in this context completely changes the meaning of the poem. Without the name 'Atthis,' there is no concrete way to determine the sex of the person being described in the poem. I just spent a few minutes looking up 'Atthis' on the Internet and all of my results indicated that 'Atthis' is a female. Many of the websites and sources stated that, before her death, 'Atthis' gave her name to the city of Attica. With the sex of the person known, the poem has a completely different feeling rather than that of a poem where the person's sex is ambiguous and unknown. Without knowing that two female's wrote this poem, I would have undoubtedly believed that this poem was written by a man. But knowing what we know about the true authors of this poem, I find it impossible to forget this. Every time I read this poem, I cannot think about a man talking to a woman but rather a woman (or two women) talking to another woman. When people first read this poem, I am sure they thought that it was a man talking to a woman, which was obviously the desired intent of Bradley and Cooper, but I believe that most of this class will find it hard to divorce themselves from this knowledge. Am I the only one who is having this problem? Maybe yes, maybe no. I think the most interesting part of this poem, besides the authors and the name 'Atthis' is the use of the word 'darling.' This is not a completely masculine or feminine word. It can be used to describe either gender. A man can say it to a woman and a woman can say it to a man. It is not an indicator of sex which is why I think Bradley and Cooper picked this word. By using this ambiguous word they could write this poem under the pretense of hetero or homosexuality.

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