Looking at Kings

He woos with words to soon engage
Her heart he binds with love’s fine string
Of lying hearts she knows nothing
Trust and faith is her heritage
With joy she joins the wedding dance
And to the marriage bed they prance
The vows they sealed has set the stage
For surprise at betrayal’s sting

Her youth has fled before her age
Inward weeps while to babe she sings
Trapped and caged she can’t change a thing
She cleans and cooks his mood assuage
Irons shirts and pants to gain a chance
For education to enhance
Her skills, but he begins to rage
“You forget I’m sovereign king!”

This is a Coraline for prompt #8 in the My Name scavenger hunt. The Coraline is a poem created by Lisa Morris. It is composed of 2 octaves (8 line stanzas) of 8 syllables per line preferably in iambic tetrameter with a rhyme scheme of a/b/b/a/c/c/a/b.

This one was inspired by reading some genealogy. Mary married at the old age of 18 to Roma, a man 36 years old. He was a widower with one daughter. She was surprised to find out that she was an instant mother. She bore him 6 additional daughters in 7 years. By the time she was 25 she looked like an old woman. The family portrait shows her to be worn and looking very unhappy while her husband looks regal and unconcerned with the children. According to the family history my mother recorded, Mary had been a good student but like so many girls ended her formal education in 8th grade. Her dream was to be a teacher but marriage and motherhood put an end to those dreams. When she was 31, her husband died leaving her with 7 girls to raise on her own. With no money, she was forced to move back to the farm her parents owned. I don’t know if she had a happy ending. But some things at least have changed since 1880…

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72 thoughts on “Looking at Kings

    1. Thanks Frank! My mother was very much the family genealogist. She had compiled a family history and I was flipping through trying to find the DOB of an ancestor when I stumbled on this little side note. Perhaps there were other circumstances not noted that would impel her to marry a man twice her cage but that is lost to the past… The family portrait however is so very sad – she looks older than he does.

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  1. I was thinking of Diana too. Not enough has changed, and in fact, things are reversing. Too many of my own peers fell far short of the equality they thought they were going to live, and what used to be a goal of tolerance has become tyranny. When they outlaw birth control, then we’ll really be on our way back to those days for sure. (K)

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    1. I hear you! I guess I had tuned out the current events when I was doing this one (at least when it comes to UK news). I’m pretty sure that her life might have been different if she had reproductive control. I can’t imagine having 6 children in 7 years. They weren’t rich so she had to cook, clean and do laundry (no doubt using a washboard) all while pregnant and caring for all those little ones!! As for what the future holds – I pray and I vote.

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  2. An all too common story in earlier days, Muri, though some of these women went on to do marvellous things despite their circumstances. In my research for Trailblazing Women it is the females like your Mary who have instigated child care centres and baby health clinics in Australia in the early days. I hope Mary inherited the farm and made a good life for herself.

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    1. Adversity can motivate change though I doubt Mary had time to even think about the larger social sphere. I don’t have the full story and the census records don’t indicate she ever remarried (7 daughters is a lot of baggage). Still I bet those daughters had better lives. As for inheriting the farm, I doubt it. There were several sons and they lived on and worked the farm. I’m glad brothers were compassionate and let her remain there (the census records indicate they did so).

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  3. I saw the name Mary, and knew you weren’t talking about Princess Di. I can’t imagine what your ancestor endured, but I am thankful that there was a portrait of her to consider after her life was gone.

    I am stunned at how many different forms of poetry exist! I’m also amazed by the discipline of following a form when creating one. Great work!

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    1. Thanks Dodi! She had a tough life no doubt. At least on the farm there were many hands to help out instead of doing it all alone! I think doing different poetry forms is kind of like mental gymnastics to keep my mind nimble! And I have fun doing them!

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        1. I think the farmers in my family left for the “big” city around 1910. Before that they were all farmers. Both my parents were teachers and both my sisters were teachers – I sort of taught at the college level as did Sparky… so the teaching gene runs strong!

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  4. What a story, beautifully handled in your poem. One of the stories I learned in my family was that of the second wife of my ancestor dying at sea on the way over from Switzerland and given an ocean burial. She was the step-mother of my direct ancestor.

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  5. Even escaping marriage was no reprieve from raising children in those days. My great grandfather’s wife died in childbirth and his sister was conscripted to move in and raise his children. He was a tyrant and was rumored to grunt when he wanted some service and the girls were expected to know what he wanted.

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    1. Yep. It was tough for women all around. Sparky’s Aunt Gen never married, she was considered “slow” and so became the family cook, maid, and nanny. Thing was she was anything but dimwitted. She had a keen wit and was a marvelous cook. I can only guess at what her life could have been, same for your distant Aunt (2 greats?). They used to take the whole home is your castle and you are the king thing seriously…

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  6. Great poem, but things have only changed maybe among the folks we know or know of? I happen to know that the only thing that changed is the names and dates and the way in which many women are treated or ignored or abused. It just takes a different form of vulgarity and drpravity.

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    1. I can’t vouch for others – but my family has all found marriage partners (in the truest sense of the word). Times now require students to be enrolled through age 18 but can withdraw at 16 if they have parental consent with the approval of the school principal, or if they are hospitalized. That is much better than it used to be.

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  7. While everything changes, everything remains the same…These stories lost to the past still touch us deeply. You’ve done such a beautiful job of crafting that emotion!

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    1. Thank-you Sangeetha! If I think about it, our lives are made of little stories strung together. The challenge is in recognizing those moments! I’m so pleased the emotions were visible.

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    1. She probably didn’t have a lot of choices. I can only guess that she thought that if she married she would still be able to pursue her dreams… In a way she did, as she was the teacher to her children either by example or with formal instruction. If she had borne a son I assume her husband would have been more involved with his upbringing – but then again one can only guess…

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  8. Things were so seemingly backwards for women, back then. I am grateful that at least some women of my mother’s generation saw fit to get at least a full high school education and some sort of post-grad training, as mother did, in cosmetology.

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    1. Your mother was smart. My mother went to college and even got her Master’s degree. Her mother was able to finish HS. My great grandmother made it to 8th grade before she was required to help out at home with the cooking, cleaning, and animal husbandry. She married and was soon in charge of the purse strings… good thing she was smart enough with numbers to be able to feed a family of 6 and maintain the house on the income from her husband’s job!!

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