Modern Poetry

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Modern Poetry

from: The Cinderella Bibliography  Created in 1995; ongoing

MODERN POETRY
Aal, Katharyn Machan. “Hazel Tells Laverne” (1981). In Robert Wallace, Writing Poems. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman, 1987, pp. 167-168.
[Hazel tells Laverne in her colorful idiom about a frog in “my howard johnsons ladies room” that she is cleaning who asks “sohelpmegod” from the toilet bowl for a kiss but she hits him with a mop and flushes him down the toilet. “me / a princess”.]
Abse, Dannie. “Pantomime Diseases” (1979). In Poetry 133, no. 5, 1979. P. 264.
[Satiric stanzas on Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Jack and Jill, and Peter Pan Pantomimes. Cinderella: “The lies of Once-upon-a-Time appal. / Cinderella seeing white mice grow into horses / shrank to the wall–an event so ominous / she didn’t go to the Armed Forces Ball / but phoned up Alcoholics Anonymous.”]
Ahmed-ud-Din, Peroz. “Cinderella.” In This Handful of Dust. Calcutta, India: Writers Workshop, 1974. P. 16.
[The poem focuses on that bleak moment when vision fails, the carriage becomes pulp–a falling vegetable body, cigarette ends writhe on the floor, contracts end, and mice run through the night.]
Atwood, Margaret. “Pig Song.” In Selected Poems. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990. P. 188.
[“If you feed me garbage, / I will sing a song of garbage.”]
-----. “Metempsychosis.” In Selected Poems. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990. P. 283.
[“Who were you when you were a snake?”]
Broumas, Olga. “Cinderella.” In Beginning with O. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. P. 57.
[A woman alone in a house of men who secretly call themselves princes. Cinderella visits them at night, with privilege of access, a woman co-opted by promises–“a job, the ruse of a choice,” forced to bear false witness against “my kind.” She detests her lot and wishes to be back in the ashes, rather than dying young like those favored before her, “hand-picked each one / for her joyful heart.” The volume also includes “Beauty and the Beast,” “Rapunzel,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Little Ride Riding Hood,” and “Snow White.”]
-----. “Beauty and the Beast.” In Beginning with O. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. Pp. 55-56.
[“Pain is the only reality.”]
Chasin, Helen. “Mythics.” In I Hear My Sisters Saying, ed. Carol Konek and Dorothy Walters. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976. Pp. 174-177.
[Seven portraits, the second of which is Cinderella “in this domicile of cosmet disasters” queening it over resident hags. “Changeling / beauty, domestic burden: I sift coal / like black diamonds–alien, determined / to make it out of this dreary household.” Other monologues include Ondine, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Psyche, and Beauty (and the Beast).]
Cochrane, Orin. “Cinderella Chant.” Winnipeg, Manitoba: Whole Language Consultants, 1988.
[A rap-like chant in couplets, for school children: “This is the story of poor Cinderella, / Who cooked and sewed and scrubbed out the cellar…” etc.]
Dove, Rita. “Beauty and the Beast.” In Selected Poems. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.
[A sixteen line poem of yearning, observation, and admonition on women with men. Beauty reflects upon her “lying” with Beast over time, then reflects on their first time and her being too young to see anything die. She misses her sisters and worries about them as gray animals circle under their windows: “Sisters, don’t you see what will snatch you up– / the expected, the handsome, the one who needs us?”]
Duhamel, Denise. Kinky. Alexandria, VA: Orchises Press, 1997.
[Duhamel’s remarkable potent volume explores feminist issues pertaining to beauty, plastic people, desire, imaginative play, social constriction, racial profiling, therapy, etc., through forty-three Barbie Doll poems. “Barbie is as vulnerable as Cinderella / in that split second between her dissolving rags / and the instant gown her Fairy God Mother bestowed her” - conclusion to “Barbie’s Final Trip to Therapy.”]
Elliston, George (1883-1946). Cinderella Cargoes. New York: G. Sully and Company, 1929.

[A collection of lyrical poems of feeling and ordinary domestic moments, by a woman writer. The 146 poems of the volume constitute the “Cinderella Cargoes” of the title. The lead poem, “Cinderella Cargoes,” is the frontispiece, not one of the 146: “Fruit and bread and meat, she wrote / A memorandum slip; / Took her market basket down / And went upon her trip. / Dreams? You can’t buy dreams, ah no. / The ships of blue and gold / Bartered in a market place / Where cheese and cakes are sold? / Bread, meat, fruit - made up her list / But, oh, the roses bright! / They were first of all she bought / To carry home that night.” Poem 138 is entitled “Cinderella”:

What Cinderella had, I too
May have, a coach and four;
It beckons me, its milk-white steeds
Are champing at my door.

On any morning I can take
A sun-kissed cloud and light,
And make myself a jeweled robe,
And any star-lit night.

I, too, may have a diadem;
The magic of old days
Was never lost, but only this,
Belief in wonder ways.

What Cinderella had, I, too,
Might take from knowing skies;
New splendor glows but I, I have
Forgotten to be wise.

[Dust jacket: Here are verses that have so touched human hearts with their philosophies, or comfort, or because of wistful inquiry that letters from everywhere have poured in to the woman who wrote them.] Farjeon, Eleanor. “Coach.” In A Pocket Full of Rhymes, ed. Katherine Love. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1946. Pp. 54-55.
[A pumpkin yearns to be something other than he is–gooseberry, greengage or grape–and is mocked by the roses and lilies for being “neither fruit nor flower.” But when transformed one midsummer night by fairies into a coach for a princess in crystal shoes roses and lilies wish that “we were pumpkins too!”]
Fisher, Aileen. “Cinderella Grass”. In Put in the Dark and Daylight. New York: Harper and Row, 1980. P. 114.
[Overnight green grass turns to Cinderella glass, icy twigs and weeds to Cinderella beads. The clover’s feet are trimmed “as if there’d been a ball / with a magic wand and all.”]
French, Mary Blake. “Ella of the Cinders.” In Convocation! Women in Writing, ed. Valerie Harms. Tampa: United Sisters, 1975. P. 98.
[Rejecting physical perfection, symmetry, and the need for a Prince Charming, she asserts: “My feet grow large to break your glass slippers; / I shall use the shivered glass for my own collage.”]
Hay, Sara Henderson. “Interview.” In Story Hour. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1982. P. 32.
[A sonnet in which the stepmother responds to the interviewer’s questions regarding Miss Glass Slipper of the Year. She boasts about her own nice “biddable” girls who were slandered so by the prettier Cinderella. She has taught her girls to be “sweet and natural” as they wait for “Mr. Right” to “come along, some day.”]
-----. “Sequel.” In Story Hour. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1982. P. 2.
[A sonnet: After the transformation of the Beast to Prince, the marriage, and Beauty’s queenly activities christening slips, sponsoring fairs, etc., the princess grows sad recalling the good beast who used to walk beside her in the garden and whose loving arm protected her from briars and kept her warm.]
Head, Gwen. “Cinderella Rediviva.” Prairie Schooner 64, 1990. P. 50 Holub, Miroslav. “Cinderella.” East Europe 7, January, 1958. P. 14.
[A poem written during the Russian occupation, in which Czechoslovakia is Cinderella; the oppressors, the stepfamily; liberation, the hoped-for prince. Holub alludes to poems of “Cinderella sorting the peas” written during the Nazi regime, which conveyed through their coded language a comparable sentiment.]
Hussey, Anne. “Cinderella Liberated.” In Best Poems of 1974, ed. Waddell Austen, et al. Palo Alto, California: Pacific Books, 1975. P. 71.
[Cinderella destroys one slipper, melting it like butter in the fire, while the prince dotes on the other–“his talisman his illusion his astigmatism and his lotus.” That’s all he has left, and this note: “dear sir whenever you see / rising from the ashes a bird its feet / blazing like torches / observe closely / it passes for me.”]
Jarrell, Randall. “Cinderella” (1953). In The Woman at the Washington Zoo. New York: Atheneum, 1960. Pp. 4-5.
[The “poet” tells of Cinderella, now an old woman, consoling herself by the fire with a jug of cider, seeing her godmother in the flames, the two of them clucking their tongues at “Men.” She contemplates the desirability of death over the deadly experiences of her “life,” first on her wedding night under the “ashy gauze and pulsing marble of a bridal veil,” when “she wished it all a widow’s coal-black weeds,” then as a sullen wife and reluctant mother, and now, staring past her sons’ sons and daughters’ daughters into the fire, wishing she were dead or in the Heaven of the “little dark old woman” who beckons from the fire for her to “come in.”]
Leeson, Jane Eliza. The Lady Ella; or, The Story of Cinderella in Verse. London: James Burns, 17 Portman Street, and Grant and Griffith, late John Harris, corner of St. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1847.

Mieder, Wolfgang, ed. Disenchantments: An Anthology of Modern Fairy Tale Poetry. Hanover, N.H.: Univ. Press of New England, 1985.
[Anthology of 101 poems, seventeen of which are devoted to or deal with Cinderella. See poems by Abse, Ahmed-ud-Din, Broumas, Chasin, Farjeon, Fisher, French, Hay, Hussey, Jarrell, Mitchell, Reid, Roberts, Pickard, Plath, Weaver, and White in this section of the bibliography.]
Miller, J. Corson. “Cinderella’s Song.” In A Horn from Caerleon. New York: Harold Vinal, 1927. Pp. 44-45.
[As Cinderella waits for the Prince to come down from Castle Town she sings of her hopes and fears–hopes that her life will become blessed with gladness, that he will “find me fair” despite “my toil-marred hands” and “heap of tangled hair,” that her “words be golden as a bell” should he find her and address her, and that her autumn might turn to spring when she feels his breath on her cheek. But “if love come not, / Come, death!”]
Mitchell, Roger. “Cinderella”. In Poetry 137, no. 3, 1980. Pp. 149-150.
[In four parts: I. A girl is abused, locked in a barn, mooing in stillness; II. She leaves, leaping froglike, following the ant and carrying a knife to bite with; III. Beautiful sisters find her at their back door and turn her into a walking, crouching broom; IV. A woodcutter–no prince, no ball, no slipper–takes her. She weeps at his death, digs his grave, but never goes back.]
Pape, Donna L. “The Cinder Sander Machine.” In The Book of Foolish Machinery. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1989.
[The sanding machine makes “cinders” that make Cinderella feel right at home.]
Pecor, Amanda. “Cinderella at Dusk, Before the Promenade.” American Poetry Review 23.5, 1999. P. 13.
[Beginning with the jump rope chant “Cinderella, dressed in yellow” who kissed a snake - “how many doctors did it take?” - moves into the reflection of a woman of the street, dressed in yellow, which bothers her, “But where else shall I find / sweeter chambers in this greenhorn town / to search for my love therein, / than glittering lizard-booted men, / address and alais noted down, in my book of alibis three feet thick.”]
Pickard, Cynthia. “Cinderella.” In Poetry for Pleasure. The Hallmark Book of Poetry. Selected and arranged by the editors of Hallmark Cards, Inc. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960. P. 59.
[A sonnet: Cinderella cowers in a dark corner, uncertain, as the witch beats her when the food’s not fine. While the witch purrs at herself in her mirror, Cinderella sees herself in the bucket. But she sees a sparkle too which becomes a godmother who tells her to rest: “Be beautiful. Be a queen.” She takes her out on a footlog and the brook shines with brightness.]
Plath, Sylvia. “Cinderella.” In The Collected Poems, ed. Ted Hughes. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. Pp. 303-304.
[A sonnet: Cinderella at the ball, caught in the whirl and violence of things happening to her that she does not understand, aware only dimly of “the caustic ticking of the clock.”]
-----. “The Beast.” In The Collected Poems, ed. Ted Hughes. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. P. 134.
[“I housekeep in Time’s gut-end / Among emmets and mollusks, / Duchess of Nothing, / Hairtusk’s bride.”]
Pleasants, Joseph. Mrs. Cinderella, The Widow of Nain, and The Resurrection of Lazarus, In Rhyme. Philadelphia, 1864.

Reid, Dorothy E. “Coach into Pumpkin” (1925). In Coach into Pumpkin. New York: AMS Press, 1971. P. 40.
[Ellen stirs the coals unobserved, reading a tattered book over and over. Elmer weds her, takes her to his farm. She grows more meek, makes her clothes for herself and her brood. Young Eleanora lingers by the coals, unobserved, poking “a wistful finger in the ashes.”]
Roberts, Elizabeth Madox. “Cinderella’s Song.” In A Pocket Full of Rhymes, ed. Katherine Love. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1946. P. 54.
[Cinderella sings by the hearth to her ashy cat about her beauty and the dress she wore that “will come again to me, / Oh, little cat beside my stool.”]
Sexton, Anne. “Cinderella.” In Transformations. Foreword by Kurt Vonnegut. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. Pp. 53-57.
[An iteration of stupendous success stories, epitomized by a witty paraphrase of Grimm’s Cinderella–that story, with “darling smiles pasted on for eternity. / Regular Bobbsey Twins. / That Story.” In his Foreword, Vonnegut reiterates his argument on the importance of the Cinderella plot in American fiction and presents the diagram of that plot that he so frequently used in lecture tours.]
Silverstein, Shel. “In Search of Cinderella.” In Free to Fly. Glenview, Ill.: Scott Foresman, 1993. Pp. 162-164.

Stevens, Wallace. “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction.” In The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1976. Pp. 380-408.
[In Section VIII of the third part entitled “It Must Give Pleasure,” Stevens uses Cinderella, dreaming at her labor and interlocked with her angel, as a figure of the poet as he questions belief and wonders if he, in his imagination, is like his own muse, that angel hovering over the abyss who “leaps downward through evening’s revelations” and needs “nothing but deep space” (p. 404); like Cinderella, he is time-bound; he wonders if there is a moment, a time, when majesty is a mirror of the self, “Cinderella fulfilling herself beneath the roof” (p. 405).]
Tennyson, Alfred Lord. “The Marriage of Geraint” and “Geraint and Enid.” In Idylls of the King. Begun in 1856; first published as "Enid" in 1859; separated into two separate poems in 1873.
[In “Marriage of Geraint” Enid is a poverty stricken woman who is literally rescued by Prince Geraint. She is terrified at the way people stare at her in her faded silk dress and has terrifying dreams about being a “faded creature” cast “on the mixen that it die.” But for her wedding she is “clothed for her bridals like the sun” by Guinevere after Geraint has refused to permit her mother to make a new dress for her. In “Geraint and Enid” the marriage takes a wicked turn: the prince turns monster as he becomes jealous, dresses her again in her faded silk, imposes silence upon her, and enforces her to do dirty work, all in the woods. Eventually her innocence and loyalty are revealed and the persecution ceases. Geraint becomes a penitent for his lack of faith.]
Trussell-Cullen, Alan. The Real Cinderella Rap. Santa Rosa, California: SRA School Group, 1994.
Van Duyn, Mona. “Cinderella’s Story.” In Letters from a Father and Other Poems. New York: Atheneum, 1982. Pp. 44-46.
[Cinderella, caught in her third transformation, reviews her life, the fantastic courtship, the power years, the complexity of child rearing, and the need for illusion and having something to give even at the end. A sort of female Prufrock.]
Vande Velde, Vivian. "Evidence." In Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird. New York: Jane Yolen Books, Harcourt Brace & Company, 1995. Pp.107-08.
[A nineteen-line poem that poses the question of why at midnight the coach turns back into a pumpkin, the coachman to a rat, the footmen into mice, etc., except for the glass slipper, which does not, to conclude that there must be a set-up by the stepmother who, unable to stand the girl's goodness, beauty, cheerfullness, and singing, wanted to get her out of the house.]
-----. The Rumplestiltskin Problem. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2001.
[Why would a miller claim that his daughter could spin straw into gold? Why would the king believe him? And why would an odd little man who can spin straw into gold do so in exchange for a tiny gold ring? Vivian Vande Velde recreates six scenarios to answer such questions: 1. “A fairy tale in bad taste.” 2. “Straw into Gold.” 3. “The Domvoi” 4. “Papa Rumpelstiltskin.” 5. “Ms. Rumpelstiltskin.” 6. “As good as gold.”]
Viorst, Judith. “And Then the Prince Knelt Down and Tried to Put the Glass Slipper on Cinderella’s Foot.” In Free to Fly. Glenview, Ill.: Scott Foresman, 1993.
[Up close the prince is not as attractive as he was the other night, so Cinderella pretends that the glass slipper is too tight.]
Weaver, Edith. “Lost Cinderella”. In Poetry 70, no. 2, 1947. Pp. 69-70.
[The poem marvels at the little rich girl running lightly through the musical leaves of fairytales, where wolves and witches deign not to lift their muzzles as she rests in the summerhouse for the promised party, beside a council of solemn dolls; but ends in questions: “Why do you who seem freedom herself / crouch in a corner / of the nightmare, the guilty fireplace / in your father’s manor: / why have you bartered your flickering dance for sorrow, / to willfully huddle / sobbing over the fallen sparrow / in your belled hand’s cradle?”]
White, Gail. “Happy Endings”. In Poem, no. 34, November, 1978. P. 10.
[Red Riding Hood and Granny make a fur coat of the wolf, Gretel shoves Hansel into the oven and eats him with the witch, Beauty enjoys her sleep, and the Prince takes Cinderella to the palace “but she would insist / on scrubbing floors / and scouring pots / and getting her good clothes / covered with ashes / after all / it was what / she was used to.”]
Yolen, Jane. “The Storyteller.” In Invitation to Camelot: An Arthurian Anthology of Short Stories, ed. Parke Godwin. New York: Ace Books, 1988. Pp. xi-xiii.
[In this poem Yolen’s story teller unpacks his bag of tales with his “Once there was” formula, telling of exotic places in Araby side by side with the rush-roofed home of Tattercoat or an animal bride.

Cinderella wears a shoe
first fitted in the East
where her prince ?
no more a beast
than the usual run of royal son ?
measures her nobility
by the lotus foot,
so many inches to the reign.
Then the slipper made glass
by a slip of ear and tongue.
All tales are mistakes
made true by the telling.

The teller listens, tells again with magic garments that fit the ready heart. When done, he packs his bag, speaks his final piece, and bows. “It is all true, / it is not true. / The more I tell you, / The more I shall lie. / What is a story / but jesting Pilat’s cry. / I am not paid to tell you the / truth.”]
-----. “Beauty and the Beast: An Anniversary.” In The Faery Flag.

-----. “Glass Slipper.” In Free to Fly. Glenview, Ill.: Scott Foresman, 1993.
[Glass slippers are silly and hurt; besides she wants to dance all night.]
-----. “Knives.” In Snow White, Blood Red, ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. New York: Avon Books, 1993. Pp. 357-358.
[Cinderella reflects on what love is for princes searching for the other shoe, what it was for the sisters who cut themselves with knives: “They did not know this secret of the world: / the wrong word can kill. / It cost them their lives.” She ponders glass, its splinters, its language and what that implies.]