Alcestis on the Poetry Circuit
(In Memoriam Marina Tsvetayeva, Anna Wickham, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare¹s sister, etc., etc.)
The best slave
does not need to be beaten.
She beats herself.
Not with a leather whip,
or with stick or twigs,
not with a blackjack
or a billyclub,
but with the fine whip
of her own tongue
& the subtle beating
of her mind
against her mind.
For who can hate her half so well
as she hates herself?
& who can match the finesse
of her self-abuse?
Years of training
are required for this.
of subtle self-indulgence,
until the subject
thinks herself a queen
& yet a beggar -
both at the same time.
She must doubt herself
in everything but love.
She must choose passionately
She must feel lost as a dog
without her master.
She must refer all moral questions
to her mirror.
She must fall in love with a cossack
or a poet.
She must never go out of the house
unless veiled in paint.
She must wear tight shoes
so she always remembers her bondage.
She must never forget
she is rooted in the ground.
Though she is quick to learn
& admittedly clever,
her natural doubt of herself
should make her so weak
that she dabbles brilliantly
in half a dozen talents
& thus embellishes
but does not change
If she's an artist
& comes close to genius,
the very fact of her gift
should cause her such pain
that she will take her own life
rather than best us.
& after she dies, we will cry
& make her a saint.
Erica Jong's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Alcestis on the Poetry Circuit by Erica Jong )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- As I Grew Older, Langston Hughes
- Warning, Jenny Joseph
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Christmas Trees, Robert Frost
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- A Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
Poem of the Day
- My Little Bird, Alfred Oyori
- Regret, Damian Murphy
- Helpless reasonings, Howard MacDougall
- The first Flight, michael hagwood
- Fake, RJP Patterson
- Bee Bathes In Bliss, Saiom Shriver
- Merry Christmas, lee fones
- Searching For Convictions, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Not Strong Enough, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Past Woes, Naveed Akram