Welcome to Day 2 of the Poetry Challenge. Our theme today is the fairy tale Snow White.
The rules of the Challenge are listed in the yesterday's post. They're simple, but if you're new to this, please read them before you join in. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed poetry so far, as well as to all you lovely readers who have been responding to the poems. The goal is to give feedback to every poem, and this wouldn't work without you. Bless you for taking the time.
Also: Please note, everyone, that there are still wonderful bear poems appearing in yesterday's Comments thread, so be sure to go back and read them too! The Challenge closes on midnight Saturday (whatever your local time is), but up until then you can continue to contribute poems to any of the Challenge posts.
We begin today with a heart-breaking and absolutely gorgeous Snow White poem by Delia Sherman. Delia is the author of many fine books and stories for teenagers and adults, including the fairy tale novel A Porcelain Dove, and the multi-award winning novel The Freedom Maze, which has just come out in paperback.
Snow White to the Prince
I am beautiful you say, sublime,
Black and crystal as a winter's night,
With lips like rubies, cabochon,
My eyes deep blue as sapphires.
I cannot blame you for your praise:
You took me for my beauty, after all;
A jewel in a casket, still as death,
A lovely effigy, a prince's prize,
The fairest in the land.
But you woke me, or your horses did,
Stumbling as they bore me down the path,
Shaking the poisoned apple from my throat.
And now you say you love me, and would wed me
For my beauty's sake. My cursed beauty.
Will you hear now why I curse it?
It should have been my mother's — it had been,
Until I took it from her.
I was fourteen, a flower newly blown,
My mother's faithful shadow and her joy.
I remember combing her hair one day,
Playing for love her tire-woman's part,
Folding her thick hair strand over strand
Into an ebon braid, thick as my wrist,
And pinned it round and round her head
Into a living crown.
I looked up from my handiwork and saw
Our faces, hers and mine, caught in the mirror's eye.
Twin white ovals like repeated moons
Bright amid our midnight hair. Our eyes
Like heaven's bowl; our lips like autumn berries.
She frowned a little, lifted hand to throat.
Turned her head this way and then the other.
Our eyes met in the glass.
I saw what she had seen: her hair white-threaded,
Her face and throat fine-lined, her eyes softened
Like a mirror that clouds and cracks with age;
While I was newly silvered, sharp and clear.
I hid my eyes, but could not hide my knowledge.
Forty may be fair; fourteen is fairer still.
She smiled at my reflection, cold as glass,
And then dismissed me thankless.
Not long after the huntsman came, bearing
A knife, a gun, a little box, to tell me
My mother no longer loved me. He spared me, though,
Unasked, because I was too beautiful to kill.
And the seven little men whose house
I kept that winter and the following year,
They loved me for my beauty's sake, my beauty
That cost me my mother's love.
Do you think I did not know her,
Ragged and gnarled and stooped like a wind-bent tree,
Her basket full of combs and pins and laces?
Of course I took her poisoned gifts. I wanted
To feel her hands combing out my hair,
To let her lace me up, to take an apple
From her hand, a smile from her lips,
As when I was a child.
Soon after Delia published her poem, Polly Peterson wrote a poignant response:"From the Prince to Snow White." You can read it here.
The art above is: "Snow White's Mother" by Charles Santore, "Snow White's Mother" by Angela Barrett, "Snow White in the Woods" by Yvonne Gilvert, "Mirror, Mirror" by Jennie Harbour, "Mirror, Mirror" by Trina Schart Hyman (1939-2004), "The Poisoned Apple" by Nancy Ekholm Burkert, "The Poisoned Laces" by Trina Schart Hyman, "She fell down dead" (drawing) by Jennie Harbour, "Snow White's Glass Coffin" by Charles Santore, "Snow White and the Prince" by Trina Schart Hyman.
Publication information: "Snow White to the Prince" first appeared The Armless Maiden anthology, and was reprinted in the Journal of Mythic Arts. The poem is copyright c 1995 by Delia Sherman; all rights reserved by the author. All poems posted in the Comments thread are the property of their authors, who likewise reserve all rights.