Posting The Little Red Shoes and The Princess Recalls Her One Adventure (and my expansion (of sorts) of it) made me want to share with you some of my favorite poems that are either based on fairy tales or remind me of fairy tales. I love each of these poems with my whole heart, and have read many of them in public (I used to MC tutor-sponsored poetry nights at the local college when I was a tutor there ).
So in absolutely no order, and with very little ado, here they are:
She is neither pink nor pale,
And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale,
And her mouth on a valentine.
She has more hair than she needs;
In the sun 'tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of coloured beads,
Or steps leading into the sea.
She loves me all that she can,
And her ways to my ways resign;
But she was not made for any man,
And she never will be all mine.
~ Edna St Vincent Millay
Snow White and the Seven Deadly Sins
Good Catholic girl, she didn't mind the cleaning.
All of her household chores, at first, were small
And hardly labors one could find demeaning.
One's duty was one's refuge, after all.
And if she had her doubts at certain moments
And once confessed them to the Father, she
Was instantly referred to text in Romans
And Peter's First Epistle, chapter III.
Years passed. More sinful everyday, the Seven
Breakfasted, grabbed there pitchforks, donned their horns,
And sped to contravene the hopes of heaven,
Sowing the neighbors' lawns with tares and thorns.
She set to work. Pride's wall of looking glasses
Ogled dimly, smeared with prnts of lips;
Lust's magazines lay strewn, bare tits and asses
Weighted by his "devices"--chains, cuffs, whips.
Gluttony's empties covered half the table,
Mingling with Avarice's cards and chips,
And she'd been told to sew a Bill Blass label
Inside the blazer Envy'd bought at Gyp's.
She knelt to the cold master bathroom floor as
If a petitioner before the Pope,
Retreiving several pairs of Sloth's soiled drawers,
A sweat-sock and a cake of hairy soap.
Then, as she wiped the Windex from the mirror
She noticed, and the vision made her cry,
How much she'd greyed and paled, and how much cleaner
Festered the bruise of Wrath beneath her eye.
"No poisoned apple needed for this Princess,"
She murmured, making X's with her thumb.
A car door slammed, bringing her to her senses;
Ho-hum. Ho-hum. It's home from work we come.
And she was out the window in a second
In time to see a Handsome Prince, of course,
Who, spying her distressed condition, beckoned
For her to mount (What else?) his snow-white horse.
Impeccably he spoke. His smile was glowing.
So debonair! So charming! And so Male.
She took a step, reversed and without slowing
Beat it to St. Anne's where she took the veil.
~ R.S. Gwynn
This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:
the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls
the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.
I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song
is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique
at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.
~ Margaret Atwood
There were twelve fairies at the feast. Never
Thirteen. The day the queen gave birth, the king
Sent out twelve messengers on horses,
One to each of us, begging us
To bless her, name her, crown her with our favor.
So we came.
There was a banquet — well, there'd have to be,
With jewelled plates and cups, the usual fee
For fairy-godmothering. My sisters returned
The usual gifts: Beauty. Wit. A lovely voice.
Goodness (of course). Good taste (that was Martha,
Wincing at the jewelled cups, the queen's gown).
Grace. Patience. An ear for music. Dexterity
(To help her learn Princessly skills, as sewing
Dancing, playing the lute). Amiability.
I meant to give her a long life.
I raised my wand and caught her eyes. They were
Gray and awake. Her cheeks were flushed with pink,
Her hair transparent down. She batted at
My wand and laughed. The court transfixed me
With expectant eyes — the king and queen,
My sisters, ladies, nobles, serving men,
Waiting for my gift. I considered
Her life, her marriage to a prince raised
Blind to the world behind the jewelled cups,
And said, "Sweet child, I give your life to you
To lead as you will, to go or stay, to use
My sisters' gifts, or let them be. Rule
In your own right, consortless and free.
If you choose."
The king raged; the queen wept; my sisters
Stood aghast. Not marry? The kiss of death,
A harsher curse than marriage to a frog,
Or kissing a hedgehog, or serving a witch, or even
Herding geese, since all these led to mating.
As a good fairy, I did what I could; I gave her
A hundred years' sleep, a hedge of briars, a spell
That would sort her suitors, test them for grace,
For patience, for wit and intelligence and good taste,
For amiability and a lovely voice.
A man who would be her mate,
Not her master.
~ Delia Sherman
Hope you enjoyed them! I'd love to hear some of your favorite fairy tale-ish poems -- even your own! Share them in the comments. :)