Monday, 15 December 2014

The Facebook of the Dead - Mrs Bennet's Burden by Valerie Laws Contributed by Julia Jones

I'm so looking forward to having proper time to read and think about Valerie Laws new poetry collection The Facebook of the Dead. But, at the moment I simply haven't got any brain space and am under the cosh to start work on the revision of the York notes GCSE revision guide to Pride and Prejudice.  So, just for now let me share with you the brilliant

Mrs Bennet's Burden -
My nerves are married to his indifference. So handsome
He was once and I a beauty, but we have rubbed each other
Against the grain, worn away our early bloom. Girl after girl,
A row of bonnets burdening his budget. Is he punishing
My womb's refusal to house his son? If he even cares
That much. His library is his cozy refuge from my terrors,
From his daughters' need of him, and it is his for life.
I watch him at the table daily for signs of apoplexy, dropsy,
Fever, for the end of him will end our lives at Longbourn.
Out in the cold, five wombs now for sale or hire become
Five warm young bodies, I their desperate pander, dignity
Beyond my purse. He loves to teaze me, dangle bachelors
Like trinkets in my face, shame me with his mockery of my
Husband-hunting ways, my restless suspense, waiting
To lose my home with losing him, to starve in a ditch perhaps
As Lucases and Longs drive by, smugly blind. Anyone
Any men who'll take my girls will do, if they can give that
Precious gift, a roof. I had such hopes of lovely Jane, Lizzie's
Eyes, Lydia's boldness, Kitty's youth, Mary's biddability,
Hopes that dwindle with each grey hair on his complacent head.
If I could wish for moire than home and sustenance,
It would be that my daughters spare me  the grief of seeing them
Unable to respect their partner in life, for I know how it hurts.
But alone, I cannot afford that luxury for my lovely girls.


(Author's Note: '...the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life' was said by Mr Bennet to Lizzy. It could just as well have been said by his long suffering wife.'

Meanwhile - never forget Laws's wonderful Lydia Bennet's Blog - reviewed by both Catherine Czerkawska and myself earlier on this site.