Poem VAR #520

I started early took my dog
and visited the sea
the mermaids in the basement
came out to look at me
and frigates in the upper floor
extended hempen hands
presuming me to be a mouse
aground upon the Sands

But no man moved me till the tide
went past my simple shoe
and past my apron and my belt
and past my boddice too
and made as he would eat me up
as wholly as a dew
upon a dandelion’s sleeve
and then I started too

And he he followed close behind
I felt his silver heel
upon my ankle then my shoes
would overflow with pearl
until we met the solid town
no man he seemed to know
and bowing with a mighty look
at me the sea withdrew


HWL's Comment

Date of writing: 1979

Subject: The poem describes vagina’s successful transition from fond¬¨ling phase to capturing the glans and achieving mutual climax. Since some of the symbolism is new in this poem, I think I should be explicit: “dog”, being an animal faithful in following her footsteps, and since vaginal fondling is symbolized in other poems as a “walk”, the conjecture comes natural that “dog” is glans. “Sea” retains its usual meaning of the semen flood or emission, but we make note that it could well symbolize female effluence in the vestibule during the lesbian enjoyment. The “mermaids in the basement” identify with semen in the testicles; their rise through urethra signifies their coming out “to look at me”. “Frigates in the upper floor” are the semen quanta ejaculated through glanslip. The “hempen hands” bring in the Webster hum that hovers about the term “spider”. Since there are several variations in this particular symbol hum, I specify that here the metal ring around a ship’s mast is meant, to which the ropes are tied that hold and guide the sails that flutter from the mast above clearly a penis in ejaculation symbol. Lines 7 & 8 make clear that vaginal cup has reached the glans rim and is now helped by the emission to effect the slip on. The “mouse aground upon the sands” is vaginal cup stranding on the semen, on what she conceives to be the vast expanse of the glans engrossment. Lines 9 to 16 incl. describe the union in mutual climax in process of being effected, with female orgasmic arousal being somewhat slow in getting its momentum. “Apron”, “Belt” and “boddice” may be taken as filler symbols to graphically demonstrate the flooding effect on vaginal cup. Lines 13 to 16 incl. hold one of the cleverest sense encapsulations in the whole body of her poems: “dandelion” is a penis symbol, a tube from which a “flower shouts”. Its “sleeve” would be the contraceptive and the “dew” on it the female effluence in orgasmic arousal. The final 8 lines describe the completion of the mutual climax and penis’ withdrawal from vagina. It remains to be added that, though the poem’s symbol¬¨ism is plainly heterosexual, the poem itself can pass for the description of a lesbian mutual appeasement also, since in both the “solid town”, the absolutely tight contact, peak excitation and release is equally achieved and likewise in total mutuality. This makes either of the two requitements exchangeable in their symbolic meanings throughout her poetry, a fact which must be kept in mind ever and ever again in the analysis of her poems. For this reason, and for the added one that the poem is in the packet 5 assembly, I hold this to be a double-double hybrid. But it is a workshop product, elaborated especially with eventual publication in mind, thus the outer meanings get preferential treatment. Actually, the poem has since become one of her most popular, best remembered ones.