Strawberry Moon

My great-aunt Elizabeth Fotune
stood under the honey locust trees,
the white moon over her and a young man near.
The blossoms fell down like white feathers,
the grass was as warm as a bed, and the young man
full of promises, and the face of the moon
a white fire.

Later,
when the young man went away and came back with a bride,
Elizabeth
climbed into the attic.

2

Three woomen came in the night
to wash the blood away,
and burn the sheets,
and take away the child.

Was it a boy or girl?
No one remembers.

3

Elizabeth Fortune was not seen again
for forty years.

Meals were sent up,
laundry exchanged.

It was considered a solution
more proper than shame
showing itself to the village.

4

Finally, name by name, the downstairs died
or moved away,
and she had to come down,
so she did.

At sixty-one, she took in boarders,

washed their dishes,
made their beds,
spoke whatever had to be spoken,
and no more.

5

I asked my mother:
what happened to the man? She answered:
Nothing.
They had three children.
He worked in the boatyard.

I asked my mother: did they ever meet again?
No, she said,
though sometimes he would come
to the house to visit.
Elizabeth, of course, stayed upstairs.

6

Now the women are gathering
in smoke-filled rooms,
rough as politicians,
scrappy as club fighters.
And should anyone be surprized

if sometimes, when the white moon rises,
women want to lash out
with a cutting edge?

by Mary Oliver

Comments (5)

On lines 2 and 3, he uses the word that as a conjunction.
This is the only sonnet of the 154 which is not written in the usual iambic pentameter (verses of five feet consisting of a short followed by a long syllable) but of the more jerky iambic tetrameter, or octosyllabic verse, which is thought to be more appropriate for epigrammatic and comic verse. It is a sonnet that is not highly regarded, being thought of as rather trivial, and most commentators would prefer to discard it. It has been suggested** that it might be a piece of juvenilia, written in 1582, which Shakespeare subsequently adapted to fit in with the sonnets. This involves a pun on Anne Hathaway in line 13, and possibly another pun, (suggested by Booth) in line 14, 'Anne saved my life'. (SB.p.501) .
Tempting though these suggestions are, I think they are overcome by the supreme difficulty of imagining how Shakespeare could have familiarized himself at this early stage with the sonnet tradition and its language and ideas. In 1582 he was only 18 years old, had just contracted what was probably a shotgun marriage with Anne Hathaway, was still living in Stratford, knew little of London and the literary set, and yet (we are asked to believe) was able to write a poem which anticipated the language of Sidney's Astrophel and Stella by at least nine years. The sonnet tradition did not really begin to flourish until after the posthumous publication of Sidney's work in 1591, which produced a flood of emulative literature. shakespeares-sonnets.com/
..............hate is totally at the opposite end of the spectrum from love....and I agree with you........let's not go there mr. shakespeare....
Awesome I like this poem, check mine out