Poetry is one continuous flow of ideas, like an unstoppable waterfall. What better way to revel in the indomitable spirit of woman than by molding it in the shape of a poem?
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Here are 14 poems that strike at the heart of patriarchy by celebrating the indomitable spirit of woman:
1. Prophecy of Sand – Aurore Severo: This is one of those poems which speaks to the very root of the problem, inequality. It’s wonderfully direct and is a delightful read who can appreciate the historical importance of feminism.
Men, they say
We have been subjugated by their culture and rules
The norms and the religions of masculine fools
The laws and the clowns
The world one day will evolve
We who have the curves and seductive smiles
Are we not filled inside with the same DNA? so they say…
Give us books and untie our bonds
We shall rise up, making empires strong
Mock not my dashing eyes
Discount not, my luscious thighs
I shall dance your dance into the night
Have no doubt; I shall be your queen
When we are embraced, for who we are
Do you not see? We shall gleam like the stars in the night
Genders, colors, nations too
Leave them sitting in old church pews
Philosophers, doctors, engineers of creation
We shall be side by side, working with you
So smile and behold the new golden age
Suras must die, in the deserts of past sage
Sisters of the sun, the gods, and the wind
The old men of the past must rescind
Glories are coming, so rejoice and behold
Equality is the greatest story a woman ever told
2. Feminism, they tell me – Jacquie Davis: This is a poem every modern day feminist will relate to, from the taunts to the insults and in some cases the social exclusion, but you keep standing tall.
They tell me that I must avoid feminism.
They tell me that feminism makes me hate men.
They tell me as a feminist no man will like.
They tell me all about misandry and not about
misogyny and after I hear them talk I am all for
Misanthropy. They tell me being manly is not ok,
They tell me short skirts are slutty and long skirts
Are prude and I. Am just. A sum of my parts.
They tell me not to walk alone at night
Or I might turn a man on.
Not to be to giving or might as well go along.
They tell me to clutch my keys for when
Bad men arrive
They tell me: “Hey girl, why not smile?”
And ask me what´s the hurry.
They tell me they are a nice guy, don´t worry
I am in no rush. Let’s just be friends, I have nothing
in demand. They tell me, with the same heart in their mind,
That I lead them on, and ask me why I don´t love them?
But I did, they were my friend.
They tell me catcalling is a compliment but call me
Arrogant if I thank. And if I walk by in silence they
Call me bitch, they call me skank. They tell me those
rowdy guys in daylight light are just a bit drunk and
nothing more. And the way that they groped me more,
just let it go and leave before they get more.
They tell me how it is my fault on the day that I get raped.
Boys will be boys, I can not expect them to behave.
How silly of me, to think them human.
They tell me no arrests are made, and before the day after, They,
They tell me to get over it, and call me psycho when I flinch.
I think some have half the mind to rape me again.
“Why don´t I trust them?¨” is all they have to ask?
But look at what you thought me,
You taught me not to trust.
That was not feminism, feminism was not my class.
It thought me better, that my voice will give me trust.
That I am not alone and you have not weakened me.
That boys are not boys and better than we make them to be.
That my body is my body and I should not fear the
Streets at day and night like I do now.
And every lurking danger,
is not the sum of my faults.
3. Song for a Lady – Anne Sexton: This is one of those poems which focus on the beauty of women in general, their mettle, and their latent capabilities.
On the day of breasts and small hips
the window pocked with bad rain,
rain coming on like a minister,
we coupled, so sane and insane.
We lay like spoons while the sinister
rain dropped like flies on our lips
and our glad eyes and our small hips.
“The room is so cold with rain” you said
and you, feminine you, with your flower
said novenas to my ankles and elbows
You are a national product and power.
Oh my swan, my drudge, my dear wooly rose,
even a notary would notarize our bed
as you knead me and I rise like bread.
4. Because a Strong Woman, I am – Anna Monnar: This is a poem that reminds me of Henley’s Invictus, and showcases the indomitable spirit of women in general.
Indeed I still struggle
Swimming upstream with might
Never giving up on what I care for
Because a strong woman, I am
You might use your jagged tongue
To tear me down for what I do
You are so cruel and judgmental
Is it my strength that bothers you?
I wept from your harsh words
That took me by surprise
In front of other guests
Embarrassed I sure was
Instead of wheeling and dealing,
Writing poems and stories, too
You think I should stop it all
Does my independence bother you?
I work full time at school and in my home
Devoting ample time to my kids every day
Cheering at their sports events, celebrations,
Plus, all the pain and glory that presents each day
Glance at the mirror
Take a good look at your soul
If what you see is perfection
Then gently stroke your sharp tongue
I am a strong woman
I will continue to work hard
My accomplishments and failures
Are what make me who I am
If I ever do it differently
It will be because I will change
For God, my children, and me
Not because I am stepped and crushed
I am who I am, not just anyone to fit in
I refuse to fit the mold and take the easy route
Tenacity and endurance is what I hold
Because a strong woman, I am
5. Bad Woman, Bad Woman – This is a beautiful poem by hellopoetry user ‘Loren W Ebeling Esq’ and stereotype of how independent and bold women set ‘bad examples’ for other women.
Her lips may drip honey
But her teeth drip blood
She’ll spend all your money
She’ll squander your love
She’s got no good intentions
She’s got no noble cause
And all her inventions
Are deadly as claws
Beware the Bad Woman
She’s pretty as a follower
She’s bad things a-comin’
She’ll leave you sad and sour
The blues baby. I’m talkin’ about the blues
6. The Empowered Woman – Sonny Carroll: This is a poem about what ‘women’ could strive to be, and more importantly, how they could strive to be anything they want to be.
The Empowered Woman, she moves through the world
with a sense of confidence and grace.
Her once reckless spirit now tempered by wisdom.
Quietly, yet firmly, she speaks her truth without doubt or hesitation
and the life she leads is of her own creation.
She now understands what it means to live and let live.
How much to ask for herself and how much to give.
She has a strong, yet generous heart
and the inner beauty she emanates truly sets her apart.
Like the mythical Phoenix,
she has risen from the ashes and soared to a new plane of existence,
unfettered by the things that once that posed such resistance.
Her senses now heightened, she sees everything so clearly.
She hears the wind rustling through the trees;
beckoning her to live the dreams she holds so dearly.
She feels the softness of her hands
and muses at the strength that they possess.
Her needs and desires she has learned to express.
She has tasted the bitter and savored the sweet fruits of life,
overcome adversity and pushed past heartache and strife.
And the one thing she never understood,
she now knows to be true,
it all begins and ends with you.
7. Goblin Market- Christina Rossetti: This piece comes from one of the more critically acclaimed feminist poets of all time. “We must not look at Goblin men, we must not buy their fruits”, this strikes a direct blow at any and all patriarchal constructs. Read it here.
8. Pretty – Kate Makkai: Kate is one of the more prominent modern feminist poets, and you might find YouTube videos of her performing at poetry slam events. This particular piece focuses on the ridiculous beauty standards women are subjected to, and how ‘pretty’ is too small a word to describe a woman, let alone a human being. Read it here.
9. Ariel – Sylvia Plath: No, I hadn’t forgotten her. There aren’t many who can explain reality as beautifully and with as much subtlety as Ms. Plath. ‘God’s Lioness’, it took just two words to put into perspective the prideful boldness of women.
Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees!—The furrow
Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,
Berries cast dark
Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Hauls me through air—
Flakes from my heels.
Godiva, I unpeel—
Dead hands, dead stringencies.
And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child’s cry
Melts in the wall.
Am the arrow,
The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red
Eye, the cauldron of morning.
10. Women’s Rights- Annie Louisa Walker: This to me is more of a war cry than a poem. It’s clear how the original proponents of ‘feminism’ were so staunch in their beliefs.
You cannot rob us of the rights we cherish,
Nor turn our thoughts away
From the bright picture of a “Woman’s Mission”
Our hearts portray.
We claim to dwell, in quiet and seclusion,
Beneath the household roof,–
From the great world’s harsh strife, and jarring voices,
To stand aloof;–
Not in a dreamy and inane abstraction
To sleep our life away,
But, gathering up the brightness of home sunshine,
To deck our way.
As humble plants by country hedgerows growing,
That treasure up the rain,
And yield in odours, ere the day’s declining,
The gift again;
So let us, unobtrusive and unnoticed,
But happy none the less,
Be privileged to fill the air around us
To live, unknown beyond the cherished circle,
Which we can bless and aid;
To die, and not a heart that does not love us
Know where we’re laid.
11. A Woman’s Last Word – Robert Browning: This provides an alternate perspective to the birth of the religious “Original Sin”, and in this rendition of Biblical history, Eve has a voice.
Let’s contend no more, Love,
Strive nor weep:
All be as before, Love,
What so wild as words are?
I and thou
In debate, as birds are,
Hawk on bough!
See the creature stalking
While we speak!
Hush and hide the talking,
Cheek on cheek!
What so false as truth is,
False to thee?
Where the serpent’s tooth is
Shun the tree—-
Where the apple reddens
Lest we lose our Edens,
Eve and I.
Be a god and hold me
With a charm!
Be a man and fold me
With thine arm!
Teach me, only teach, Love
As I ought
I will speak thy speech, Love,
Think thy thought—-
Meet, if thou require it,
Laying flesh and spirit
In thy hands.
That shall be to-morrow
I must bury sorrow
Out of sight:
—-Must a little weep, Love,
And so fall asleep, Love,
Loved by thee.
13. Women’s Suffrage – William Topaz McGonagall: This is one of the ‘less powerful’ poems, at first glance. Take in the context of people like Rosa Parks and others who first scratched the surface of gender equality, and read with an open mind. The poem sounds more like a pleading than a fierce demand, but it’s as earnest as they come. Read it here.
14. Cigarettes and Whiskey and Wild, Wild Women – Anne Sexton: Ms. Sexton makes it to the list for the second time, because it’s honestly wrong to not include a poem that showcase the rough cut edges of a woman’s life, and their constant effort to make peace with it and stand boldly against it. Read it here.
15. Phenomenal Woman – Maya Angelou: Phenomenal woman could more or less be called the face of feminist poetry, although one might disagree. The term that comes closest to describe the weight and magnitude of this poem is ‘femme fatale’, and while I’ll willingly ignore the slight negative connotation to it, it fits it perfectly. Read it here.
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Besides these, there are endless poems available across the internet on various forums. Feminist poetry isn’t a rare occurrence, and you’ll find it everywhere if you look carefully enough. This is a carefully nurtured ideology, and one that is as indomitable as the spirit of the woman bearing the torch.
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