Taking Black Women Writers has already disrupted all previously held worldviews concerning both women and the African American Community. I am reveling in the tensions and my mind whirls with thoughts of othering, gender roles, and racism. Along with this course, I am also taking Poetry. This week, our poetry class looked at Yeats’ poem, “Adam’s Curse” and I thought I would share it below, curious for your responses.
We sat together at one summer’s end,That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,And you and I, and talked of poetry.I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.Better go down upon your marrow-bonesAnd scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stonesLike an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;For to articulate sweet sounds togetherIs to work harder than all these, and yetBe thought an idler by the noisy setOf bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymenThe martyrs call the world.’And thereuponThat beautiful mild woman for whose sakeThere’s many a one shall find out all heartacheOn finding that her voice is sweet and lowReplied, ‘To be born woman is to know—Although they do not talk of it at school—That we must labor to be beautiful.’I said, ‘It’s certain there is no fine thingSince Adam’s fall but needs much laboring.There have been lovers who thought love should beSo much compounded of high courtesyThat they would sigh and quote with learned looksPrecedents out of beautiful old books;Yet now it seems an idle trade enough.’We sat grown quiet at the name of love;We saw the last embers of daylight die,And in the trembling blue-green of the skyA moon, worn as if it had been a shellWashed by time’s waters as they rose and fellAbout the stars and broke in days and years.I had a thought for no one’s but your ears:That you were beautiful, and that I stroveTo love you in the old high way of love;That it had all seemed happy, and yet we’d grownAs weary-hearted as that hollow moon.