"She" (original title: "She: A History of Adventure") is a classic pulp fantasy novel written by H. Rider Haggard all the way back in 1887. In the story, Queen Ayesha, known to her subjects as "She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, was an immortal jungle sorceress who menaces and eventually falls in love with Leo Vincey, our stalwart hero. In the end, she tries to make him immortal, too, but her spell, which involves walking through a pillar of fire in a volcano, doesn't work out right, and she dies as an immeasurably old woman. The story was followed by two sequels: 1905's "Ayesha" and "Wisdom's Daughter" in 1923.

Thanks to Master Villain for additional info. He's lucky enough to have access to a first edition of the book!


cranks the window down and reaches
her arm out our lazy window
into sixtythree m p h or so and
cranks the sunset up she

loves how the colors swirl late summer days
thumps the door in time with the catchy
static and laughs
"at what" my eyes on the road I
wish I was gutsy and blonde and in love she

answers with another laugh
wants to cut my name in the vangogh colors
with maybe a broken beer bottle
but I say no
"you can't cut fire
you'll just burn your hands"
and besides "you shouldn't play with glass" she

was just trying to be nice but I
had to keep my eyes on the road
no matter how much I
wanted to see the sunset behind her hair she

pulls her hand in
leaves the window down
when it gets dark goes to sleep I think pouting
when I shift gears, slowing into
No-town at three a m, she

wraps her hand over mine without waking up
between lips like crimson clouds she

says through too much darkness as hard as I try I can't
crank the window up on her she

won't be ignored by my
eyes on the road

she's fire, she says,
why do I even try to cut her?

This is a summer poem about a girl, and about sunsets in August, and about how the two have a lot in common. It's also about driving stick shift in a car when the other person's asleep. I'm not sure if I was in love at the time or just mooning over someone; the original writing is long since gone, but I've worked this over several times, and I think that even if it's not part of my own experience, maybe it'll help you see a spark that you missed in one of your own. Enjoy.


No, we're not talking about H. Rider Haggard's novel She but that third person, singular, feminine gender pronoun in English, she. It appears that before the year 1100, there really wasn't a she in the language. English had heo, which singular females had to share with plurals of all genders because it meant they as well.

In Old English (before 1100 AD) the pronoun system was as follows, with nary a she in the bunch. (Note: I don't know how to get a macron ( = bar over the vowels] as customary in Old English, so I've substituted ë and ï to indicate the long vowels.)
Singular            Feminine            Masculine          Neuter

Nominative          hëo                 hë                 hit
Genitive            hiere               his                his
Dative              hiere               him                him
Accusative          hïe                 hine               hit


Nominative          hïe                       same for
Genitive            hiere                   all genders
Dative              him
Accusative          hïe
In the twelfth century, however, the she appeared, and she has been with us ever since. She may come from the Old English feminine demonstrative pronoun seo or sio, or from Viking invasions.

The OED explains it this way:
The phonetic development of various dialects had in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries rendered the pronouns he (masc.) and heo (fem.) almost or wholly indistinguishable in pronunciation. There was therefore, where these dialects were spoken, a strong motive for using the unambiguous feminine demonstrative instead of the feminine personal pronoun. Further, the districts in which she or sho first appears in the place of heo are marked by the abundance of Scandinavian elements in the dialect and place-names; and in Old Norse the demonstrative pronoun (of all genders) is often used as a personal pronoun.

The she, she

I was thinking about role models
I remembered

As a child
In the care of the she, she
The crone
The there and not there
The wise old eagle
Pulled the feathers from her breast
To make a nest
The she, she

She, she
Handed me over
I still saw her
No words for longing
Dismissed from the presence
Banished from the garden
I had not eaten the apple
I had no knowledge

I wanted independence
I wanted distance
I wanted to be the wise crone

I can see now
I worked on this
Life goals
The path that I am on will not take me
Where I want to be
It's an arid desert

I don't want to be the crone

I just wanted her

She (?), pron. [sing. nom. She; poss. Her. () or Hers (); obj. Her; pl. nom. They (?); poss. Their (?) or Theirs (); obj. Them (?).] [OE. she, sche, scheo, scho, AS. seo, fem. of the definite article, originally a demonstrative pronoun; cf. OS. siu, D. zij, G. sie, OHG. siu, si, si, Icel. s&umac;, sja, Goth. si she, s&omac;, fem. article, Russ. siia, fem., this, Gr. , fem. article, Skr. sa, sya. The possessive her or hers, and the objective her, are from a different root. See Her.]


This or that female; the woman understood or referred to; the animal of the female sex, or object personified as feminine, which was spoken of.

She loved her children best in every wise. Chaucer.

Then Sarah denied, . . . for she was afraid. Gen. xviii. 15.


A woman; a female; -- used substantively.


Lady, you are the cruelest she alive. Shak.

She is used in composition with nouns of common gender, for female, to denote an animal of the female sex; as, a she-bear; a she-cat.


© Webster 1913.

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