Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Poetry - Leonora Speyer

Another fascinating woman I'd never heard of. Leonora Speyer was a poet & violinist (see the gorgeous portrait of her playing the violin by John Singer Sergeant here). Born in Washington in 1872, she studied & played the violin professionally in Europe & won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1927. This poem, The Ladder, has quite startling imagery of sadness, regret & humiliation.

I had a sudden vision in the night,
I did not sleep, I dare not say I dreamed,
Beside my bed a curious ladder gleamed
And lifted upward toward the sky's dim height;
And every rung shone luminous and white,
And every rung a woman's body seemed
Out-stretched, and down the sides her long hair streamed:
and you, you climbed that ladder of delight.

You climbed sure-footed, naked rung by rung,
Clasped them and trod them, called them by their name,
And my name too, I heard you speak at last;
You stood upon my breast the while and flung
A hand up to the next - and then, oh shame,
I kissed the foot that bruised me as it passed.

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