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Rapunzel Analysis

Author: poem of Anne Sexton Type: poem Views: 7

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A woman

who loves a woman

is forever young.

The mentor

and the student

feed off each other.

Many a girl

had an old aunt

who locked her in the study

to keep the boys away.

They would play rummy

or lie on the couch

and touch and touch.

Old breast against young breast...

Let your dress fall down your shoulder,

come touch a copy of you

for I am at the mercy of rain,

for I have left the three Christs of Ypsilanti

for I have left the long naps of Ann Arbor

and the church spires have turned to stumps.

The sea bangs into my cloister

for the politicians are dying,

and dying so hold me, my young dear,

hold me...

The yellow rose will turn to cinder

and New York City will fall in

before we are done so hold me,

my young dear, hold me.

Put your pale arms around my neck.

Let me hold your heart like a flower

lest it bloom and collapse.

Give me your skin

as sheer as a cobweb,

let me open it up

and listen in and scoop out the dark.

Give me your nether lips

all puffy with their art

and I will give you angel fire in return.

We are two clouds

glistening in the bottle galss.

We are two birds

washing in the same mirror.

We were fair game

but we have kept out of the cesspool.

We are strong.

We are the good ones.

Do not discover us

for we lie together all in green

like pond weeds.

Hold me, my young dear, hold me.

They touch their delicate watches

one at a time.

They dance to the lute

two at a time.

They are as tender as bog moss.

They play mother-me-do

all day.

A woman

who loves a woman

is forever young.

Once there was a witch's garden

more beautiful than Eve's

with carrots growing like little fish,

with many tomatoes rich as frogs,

onions as ingrown as hearts,

the squash singing like a dolphin

and one patch given over wholly to magic --

rampion, a kind of salad root

a kind of harebell more potent than penicillin,

growing leaf by leaf, skin by skin.

as rapt and as fluid as Isadoran Duncan.

However the witch's garden was kept locked

and each day a woman who was with child

looked upon the rampion wildly,

fancying that she would die

if she could not have it.

Her husband feared for her welfare

and thus climbed into the garden

to fetch the life-giving tubers.

Ah ha, cried the witch,

whose proper name was Mother Gothel,

you are a thief and now you will die.

However they made a trade,

typical enough in those times.

He promised his child to Mother Gothel

so of course when it was born

she took the child away with her.

She gave the child the name Rapunzel,

another name for the life-giving rampion.

Because Rapunzel was a beautiful girl

Mother Gothel treasured her beyond all things.

As she grew older Mother Gothel thought:

None but I will ever see her or touch her.

She locked her in a tow without a door

or a staircase. It had only a high window.

When the witch wanted to enter she cried"

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.

Rapunzel's hair fell to the ground like a rainbow.

It was as strong as a dandelion

and as strong as a dog leash.

Hand over hand she shinnied up

the hair like a sailor

and there in the stone-cold room,

as cold as a museum,

Mother Gothel cried:

Hold me, my young dear, hold me,

and thus they played mother-me-do.

Years later a prince came by

and heard Rapunzel singing her loneliness.

That song pierced his heart like a valentine

but he could find no way to get to her.

Like a chameleon he hid himself among the trees

and watched the witch ascend the swinging hair.

The next day he himself called out:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,

and thus they met and he declared his love.

What is this beast, she thought,

with muscles on his arms

like a bag of snakes?

What is this moss on his legs?

What prickly plant grows on his cheeks?

What is this voice as deep as a dog?

Yet he dazzled her with his answers.

Yet he dazzled her with his dancing stick.

They lay together upon the yellowy threads,

swimming through them

like minnows through kelp

and they sang out benedictions like the Pope.

Each day he brought her a skein of silk

to fashion a ladder so they could both escape.

But Mother Gothel discovered the plot

and cut off Rapunzel's hair to her ears

and took her into the forest to repent.

When the prince came the witch fastened

the hair to a hook and let it down.

When he saw Rapunzel had been banished

he flung himself out of the tower, a side of beef.

He was blinded by thorns that prickled him like tacks.

As blind as Oedipus he wandered for years

until he heard a song that pierced his heart

like that long-ago valentine.

As he kissed Rapunzel her tears fell on his eyes

and in the manner of such cure-alls

his sight was suddenly restored.

They lived happily as you might expect

proving that mother-me-do

can be outgrown,

just as the fish on Friday,

just as a tricycle.

The world, some say,

is made up of couples.

A rose must have a stem.

As for Mother Gothel,

her heart shrank to the size of a pin,

never again to say: Hold me, my young dear,

hold me,

and only as she dreamed of the yellow hair

did moonlight sift into her mouth.

Submitted by RW


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