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« But I MEANT to Write it that Way! [by Charles Coe] | Main | For Maya Angelou: "The Caged Bird Sings" [by Hollis Robbins] »

May 29, 2014


"I think of all the heroines of literature I love who commit suicide: Dido, Antigone, Jocasta, Juliet, Ophelia, Lady Macbeth, Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, Lily Bart, Bertha Rochester, Hedda Gabler, Edna Pontellier. Why do we have to kill off our heroines, and worse yet, by suicide?" That is quite a list. I wonder whether men are equal-opportunity self-slaughterers? Ajax, Romeo, Othello, Brutus (but I am relying on memory, notoriously fallible), Willy Loman, assorted characters who come to mind in Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene, an idealistic senator in "Advise and Consent" that disturbed me when I was young, and whom am I overlooking? In any case, I totally agree: the path of martyrdom leads to no happy outcome.

That's a good point, David! The tally is high for male characters too -- and just as haunting.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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