India is a rich mosaic when it comes to languages, cultures and states. This diverse selection keeps in mind the feminist angle as it journeys from the 12th century through the 21st. These classic Indian women poets are presented here in order of birth, from Akka Mahadevi (1130-1160) through Meena Alexander (1951-2018).
Though all have passed on, their voices and influence echo through the ages. Pictured at right, Kamala Das as a young woman.
A poet has the ability to bring to the light our most inexpressible fears and doubts. When the subject is aging – the subject most of us try to avoid – it is the poets we turn to find the comfort and the clarity we need. Grace Paley is one of the poets who can instruct the heart and mind on living with death, as evidenced by this selection of her poems on aging.
For the last ten years of her life, Grace wrote poetry on the complexities of living with death as we grow older. “Nature takes its course,” is how we have been instructed to perceive our passing, but what about our other contradictory emotions and realities. Read More→
Songs of the Elder Sisters were composed during the Buddha’s lifetime, about 2,500 years ago. These women renounced home life and society, and joined the group of nuns founded by the Buddha. This selection of 14 poems from the Buddhist text known as the Therīgāthā were translated from Pāli by Francis Booth. See more of this translation of Songs of the Elder Sisters on Issuu.
These poignant songs are about loss of beauty, wealth and family, balanced by the greater gains of peace and wisdom through enlightenment in old age. All the songs are ascribed to particular women, whose names we know. They speak as individuals, not as wives, mothers and daughters. Read More→
Renascence and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay (1917) was the first published collection by this eminent American poet. The book’s title reflects Millay’s 1912 poem of the same name, published when she was just nineteen, and still considered one of her finest. Here you’ll find the full text of this work.
From Dover, a recent publisher of this work that’s now in the public domain:
The poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) have been long admired for the lyric beauty that is especially characteristic of her early works. “Renascence,” the first of her poems to bring her public acclaim, was written when she was nineteen. Now one of the best-known American poems, it is a fervent and moving account of spiritual rebirth. Read More→
This year, as spring approached I took on the perspective of Emily Dickinson and slowly, tentatively, began to believe that hope — “the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul” — is real and possible. The poet that I instinctively read, and read again, was Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 – 1950) and her observations on the spring season.
This bouquet of spring poetry that I culled from Millay’s poems seem to have a common thread: Millay is annoyed at spring’s exuberant beauty coming yearly, and becomes indifferent and slightly angry since nature’s exuberant beauty arrives when her heart is under torment once more and is experienced as something of an intrusion upon her grieving. Read More→