Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Feminist Poem of the Day

I was first introduced to the work of Alfonsina Storni when her poem “Tú me quieres blanca” was added to the syllabus of a Spanish 202 course I was teaching. It was love at first read, and have been teaching these verses in language and literature classes ever since. You can find an English translation of Alfonsina Storni’s “Tú me quieres blanca” here, along with a brief biography.

Tú me quieres blanca

Tú me quieres alba,
Me quieres de espumas,
Me quieres de nácar.
Que sea azucena
Sobre todas, casta.
De perfume tenue.
Corola cerrada

Ni un rayo de luna
Filtrado me haya.
Ni una margarita
Se diga mi hermana.
Tú me quieres nívea,
Tú me quieres blanca,
Tú me quieres alba.

Tú que hubiste todas
Las copas a mano,
De frutos y mieles
Los labios morados.
Tú que en el banquete
Cubierto de pámpanos
Dejaste las carnes
Festejando a Baco.
Tú que en los jardines
Negros del Engaño
Vestido de rojo
Corriste al Estrago.

Tú que el esqueleto
Conservas intacto
No sé todavía
Por cuáles milagros,
Me pretendes blanca
(Dios te lo perdone),
Me pretendes casta
(Dios te lo perdone),
¡Me pretendes alba!

Huye hacia los bosques,
Vete a la montaña;
Límpiate la boca;
Vive en las cabañas;
Toca con las manos
La tierra mojada;
Alimenta el cuerpo
Con raíz amarga;
Bebe de las rocas;
Duerme sobre escarcha;
Renueva tejidos
Con salitre y agua;
Habla con los pájaros
Y lévate al alba.
Y cuando las carnes
Te sean tornadas,
Y cuando hayas puesto
En ellas el alma
Que por las alcobas
Se quedó enredada,
Entonces, buen hombre,
Preténdeme blanca,
Preténdeme nívea,
Preténdeme casta.
Storni was an amazing poet and feminist, and quite ahead of her time (and perhaps ours). For more of her poems in Spanish, visit Los Poetas. Does anyone else have a favorite piece of feminist art or literature?

UPDATE: More feminist poetry - right here.


natalie said...

I liked "Pride and Prejudice," does that count?

La Pobre Habladora said...

Of course! Austin's writing got more overtly feminist, although the term had not yet been coined, in later works, but I think Pride and Prejudice is still popular because it is a warm and funny story that does discuss the problems that women faced at the time, some of which we still face today (like marriage being still such a big social status expectation for women, even if it is not longer the only financial option for 'well breed' young women). I read P&P for the first time in high school, and it is a great introduction to feminism for students since it gives an idea of what challenges faced women before we had the ability to control much in our lives (the women in the story can't inherit property or work, so their financial success is entirely dependent on their romantic success). Also, the societal critiques are a bit subversive, so your conservative brother isn't going to get upset if you give Pride and Prejudice to his daughter for Christmas. Win-win.

Anonymous said...

I hate poetry equally by men and women--does that count?

La Pobre Habladora said...

I'm on to you, L.A. - no skulking behind "Anonymous" for your poetry hating... but we'll turn you - only poetry for you for Festivus!

Laura said...

I truly love this poem. This woman says it like it is. Women shouldn't have to be a certain way -- pure -- for men if they aren't for us. They're just being hypocrites. And this poem says the truth, it is beautifully written.