Your friend Behr has shared with you some of his thoughts on the painfully beautiful poetry of Edith Bartholemew Millay. This is another of her poems, which I will break down in a academically critical way. I find myself touched in the heart by her poetry and find that it soothes my wandering star at times when I used to turn to alcohol until I saw what it did to my now dead friend The Slow Kid.
There's a boy with a wooden leg on Mulberry Street
Wow, have you ever seen a more beautiful opening line to a piece of poetry? The imagery is so sacrosanct. You can picture this unfortunate boy, hobbling around on this wooden leg, and he's on Mulberry Street. You have to wonder what kind of street this is. You are hoping no harm comes to the unfortunate boy with the wooden leg. You have become deeply concerned for his welfare, not the kind of welfare the government doles out that we need to stop immediately, but for his peace of mind and his ability to go on living without being beaten to death by an angry, boy with a wooden leg hating mob.
I've seen him before, around town
But now he's walking down Mulberry Street
And he unfortunately has no shoes
This brings some thoughts to mind. Why does Dame Millay say "shoes" when this boy has a wooden leg? Wouldn't it therefore be "shoe" because wouldn't he have a peg leg? Dame Millay wrote poetry in the early 19th century before being made a dame posthumously by Queen Victoria. So, in accordance with all that, this boy would only need ONE shoe. Is this an inconsistency? Should we throw out ALL our Edith Bartholemew Millay poetry books because of this? I don't think so. I think we have to take it on faith that she intended to use the word "shoes" in the plural and that she did so for a very specific reason. What could the reason be? Is it possible the boy doesn't really have a wooden leg, that he actually has both of his natural human legs? This is now something we must consider.
Alistair he is a banker, Sybil she is a clerk
Both need to get up now and go to work
The banks have failed, the crops have died
These are methods true and tried
This verse has always been a source of bafflement for me, personally. Dame Edith's poetry gives me a painful feeling in my heart when I read it, like my heart is being ripped out of my chest and thrown in the reject pile with all the waffle cones and chicken fat everyone discards after a summer picnic. How do you feel about the poem? How does it make YOU feel in your chest? Do you feel tightening in there like I do? Do you feel that you have to often clutch at your chest, struggle to breathe, and then collapse on the floor like I do? This is how I feel when I read the painfully beautiful poetry of Edith Bartholemew Millay.
We need to talk about your openness. I am open to you and I share with you my innermost, and most intimate, thoughts and feelings with you. And in return you do not open up to me. It is completely safe to share your most intimate thoughts with someone like me. You can trust me. I will not give up this information to people unless there is fair monetary compensation, whether in the form of actual cold hard cash or in the form of stock options or even stock tips. For most of my friends here, I would give your deepest, most intimate thoughts and feelings, the ones you share with me in a bond of trust, to your enemies for never anything less that a major stock tip that leads to me being able to eat really well in fancy restaurants for a period of no less than three weeks using nothing but the dividends on those particular stocks. You ought to know this about me, so where is your openness? It disappoints me mightily.
The wretched church rises at the end of Mulberry Street
Whether in darkness or in light
The gathering of the adherents has begun
And torches by now must surely be lit
A little history here for those of you who aren't students of history like I am. In the early 19th century, certain churches had decided to burn any people with wooden limbs they saw. They considered these people to be inferior. They thought of them as defective eyesores that took away from the beauty of their idyllic small town lives.
There's a boy with a wooden leg on Mulberry Street
Where torches have been lit in the
Shadow of the wretched church they gather
The boy with the wooden leg must now surely burn
Light him, fannest thou flames, watch the bastard burn
He is eyesore, defective, and he ruins the scenery on Mulberry Street
It is hard to know what to say after you've read something like that. It is some heavy duty stuff right there. Poetry isn't easy. Poetry is hard. There is a thing called limbic pentameter which you have to apply. And then there are all the absolutely gut-wrenching emotional parts you encounter during your reading of heavy poetry. So intense. Such an experience. Poetry.
Jane she has a prize winning milking cow
William has a beautiful oaken milking pail
They live up on Mulberry Street
Where the boy with the wooden leg did go
Here we have the introduction of new characters into the poem, this is called "adding additional characters" in the rules of poetry. It is a thing. Be aware of things or they will wait for you at bedtime. Have you ever woken up with a bite on your body you could not explain? A "bug bite" of some kind? That is something you are not aware of coming back to haunt you. Eventually you'll be gored by a boar in your sleep if you don't start being aware of things around you.
Jane and William take the carriage up Mulberry Street
Where the boy with the wooden leg has thusly been cornered
Cowering, fearful, certain of his own demise
The boy with the wooden leg closes his eyes tightly
Just as Jane and William ride up
But will they save the day or will they join the mob?
Only the Lord knows for certain
This is the part of the poem where the drama builds up, like when you are watching movies and you hear the music "intensify." I don't know if you know what "intensify" means, but think about listening to a piece of music in those pathetic, worn out pajamas you pad around in all day while complaining about the state of the world the way that you do. Piece of shit. Now, the music is quiet, kind of in the background, and then ACTION! and things happen on screen and the music gets louder and intensifies. Look into this. It will do you a lot of good to learn more about this concept so that you can apply it to your piss poor writing.
The patrons of the wretched church took pause
They cast their suspicious gaze upon the newcomers
Jane and William raise their hands, it is the ancient call for mercy
The patrons of the wretched church take pause
Then they begin kicking, punching, stomping on the boy
With the wooden leg on Mulberry Street and together they conspire
To break every bone in his hands, his arms, and his only good leg
They throw him in the middle of Mulberry Street
The boy with the wooden leg on Mulberry Street
Languished in agony for six long moons before the Lord intervened
And brought his tragic life to a wretched conclusion
Seriously, friends, what a painfully beautiful poem! Have you ever been so moved? This is the kind of stuff you need to be reading, and why you need to have a classical education instead of liberal pap about mathematics and science. I have already pointed out the flaws involved in using the false practices of mathematics and science, so I won't repeat myself, but get yourself a classical education and get some new pajamas. You are a disappointment to me.
You might feel like these people were callous and horrible to the poor boy that wandered down their street, but there are two sides to every playing card. In the early 19th century, the presence of people with wooden limbs in your village would lower property values across the board and serve as a beacon to other defectives, who further lowered property values and made the whole area into what the English call a "hobble town," and in the 19th century, no one wanted to have to live in a hobble town. So, you can understand why Dame Millay referred to them as "altruists," because they did not burn the poor boy, but they did deal with him in a way that discouraged other defectives from coming up Mulberry Street. Others have said that Dame Millay was being "sarcastic" or writing in the style of Mark Twain, who has been turned into a talking robot in our time (much to my chagrin).
The Painfully Beautiful Poetry of Edith Bartholemew Millay
Edited by Brooks T. Joravich, copyright 1912, Random House Press