just ponderin'

… on me and georgia o’keeffe and robert frost (wHierd)

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This pic reminds me of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting that is not of a vagina.

Oh, sorry, was that too graphic for you?

This pic reminds me of a Monet painting that is not of a vagina.

I’m just kidding.

It really does remind me of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, but throughout her life she insisted her close-ups of flowers – some of which looked exactly like vaginas – were indeed just close-ups of flowers.

So, vagina or not, this pic reminds me of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting.

Plus I just got to say ‘vagina’ four times.

Five.

Forbidden words are a complete crack up to me (you should have heard the Nearly Perfect Husband reading this out loud for editing purposes. Priceless!)

Georgia O’Keeffe insisted – insisted – that she never intended to paint vaginal imagery. And the art world did not agree and the feminist movement didn’t either and sort of tried to co-opt her as an icon for their cause because she was nervy enough to be painting their power parts out loud.

I never understood all that controversy. Penises have been flipping and flopping all over papyruses and statues and paintings throughout history and I can’t even name the penis artists.

Okay, Michelangelo.

But only because I remember David’s penis.

Oh, sorry. The David.

Men.

But seriously, if an artist tells you that he or she did not have some deep, hidden meaning with their art then why not trust the artist?

Case in point, the poet Robert Frost (who did not write poems about vaginas, just so you know).

Or penises for that matter.

Robert Frost wrote Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

I love this poem because it is incredibly simple, but awesomely written.

Here it is:

Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This is a lovely story of a man stopping in the woods, with his horse, as it snows.

Robert Frost, who wrote the poem, said that readers and/or listeners should not over analyze it for deep meaning beyond the words.

The poet said that.

So, with Mr. Frost’s directive in mind, here is my analysis:

A man and his horse stop in the woods and the man says he might know who owns the woods, but that guy lives in the village so no biggie on the whole trespassing thing. Plus it’s dark. Also, the horse shakes at one point and the bells on his harness jingle a bit, and the man totally anthropomorphizes and thinks the horse wonders why they’ve stopped in the middle of nowhere (me? I think the horse just had a bunch of snow on his coat and wanted it off).  Then the guy thinks the woods are wicked pretty, but he has to get home because he has a long way to go before he can crawl into bed.

Probably had a hard day.

And every single teacher and professor I have ever had, and my cherubs have ever had,  insists I am wrong because this beautiful poem about watching snow fall in the woods and giving one’s horse way too many human attributes is about…. (insert big drumroll here)

death.

Yep.

Some people even say suicide.

They say the repetition of the ‘miles to go before I sleep’ line is ominous.

One professorial guy from the University of Kentucky (Go Big Blue Nation!) named George Montiero (he wrote a book and everything) compared this poem to Longfellow’s interpretation of Dante’s Inferno.

Not kidding.

He said it shared “echoes and images”.

Ya.

Cuz I could totally hear echoes, and see images, of whores, blasphemers, murderers, and liars all over the place in the woods where snow is falling on a horse.

Another guy, John T. Ogillvie, who got his opinion published in the South Atlantic Quarterly in the Winter of 1959, talked about the repetition of the last two lines hint at the ‘influences that may be at work’. Then he goes on to say that there is no reason to assume these influences are ‘benignant’.

Which I had to look up.

And ‘benignant’ means ‘kindly and benevolent’ (excellent word).

Well, how come?

How come I can’t take the fact that the man in the lovely woods, with the awesomely human horse, is yearning for his benignant bed?

Because John T. Ogiilvie says so?

I’ll tell you what I think. I think that, when John T. Ogilvie wrote for the South Atlantic Quarterly in the WINTER of 1959, he was suffering from a particularly depressive form of Seasonal Affective Disorder. That’s what I think.

So every time one of my kids has to interpret this particular Robert Frost poem, they have to suffer through my hissy fit about the educated opinions and how there is no way to tell if they are right or wrong since the guy who wrote the poem said not to interpret it too deeply!

And they could just memorize the teacher’s lesson about it, but I want them to think a little too. Question things. You know…. learn.

But then, sadly, my little cherubs also want to pass whatever class they are in.

So it will soon be Self-Proclaimed-Nearly-Perfect-Boy-Gabe’s turn at the Stopping by Woods trough. And I know this because two of my kids have already taken this exact same class. And poor Gabe will suffer my rant (I’ll vary it a little for entertainment’s sake), and then my advice.

Ask questions in class and have fun debating it. And, if you don’t believe in the ‘standard’ interpretation, then you can – on the test – answer, “Well, the accepted interpretation is blah blah blah blah, but per our classroom debate I still wonder if blah blah blah.”

And also, I will tell him to make sure he compares it to the whole Georgia O’Keeffe hullabaloo.

And to use the word, ‘vagina’.

Every good argument deserves some shock value.

That’s eight.

Uses of ‘vagina’. That’s eight.

wHoops.

That’s nine.

Thanks for readin’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs always, you can come on over to Just Ponderin’s facebook page to comment or just hang out.

Elena Peters

midlife blogger & pinterest master

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