I talked with a group of poets yesterday.
Poetry operates at a level beyond my ordinary grasp; often it reads like an excuse for lazy incoherence rather than stabs at truth.
In yesterday’s case, the writers had forged their art around efforts to ensure equal rights and legal protections for women. The event rose above the lovelorn and the starry-eyed, the melodramatic and the strange, spurring participants to action towards gender equality.
I was compelled to reflect on an instance earlier this week where #Thoreau was trending on Twitter (yes). The philosopher/poet/naturalist was being disparaged over implications that his mother and sister did all his cooking and cleaning for him.
The underlying reality behind those allegations shouldn’t blind us from the fact that Thoreau is very precise about how he cleaned the cabin he built and cooked the food he grew during his two-year stint roundabout Walden Pond (he’s frank, too, about bringing food from the village, and hosting and being hosted for meals).
When my floor was dirty, I rose early, and, setting all my furniture out of doors on the grass, bed and bedstead making but one budget, dashed water on the floor, and sprinkled white sand from the pond on it, and then with a broom scrubbed it clean and white
I built the chimney after my hoeing in the fall, before a fire became necessary for warmth, doing my cooking in the mean while out of doors on the ground, early in the morning: which mode I still think is in some respects more convenient and agreeable than the usual one. When it stormed before my bread was baked, I fixed a few boards over the fire, and sat under them to watch my loaf, and passed some pleasant hours in that way.
And yet the underlying reality also needs be addressed. The underlying reality is this.
That behind the large majority of men known for accomplishing great (or terrible) things, there is likely a woman—a mother, a spouse, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a daughter—who labored far harder and more constantly than he, in a way that directly supported his accomplishments. And so labored in the shadows.
A reverse corollary cannot be presented as fact.
I talked with a group of poets yesterday. There was nothing incoherent to the discussion.