by anonymous //

my ex-girlfriend told me
she wanted us to get back together.

how do i tell her i
didn’t just survive the breakup,
i thrived?

i didn’t grieve 
because i wasn’t experiencing a loss,
i didn’t cry
because there was nothing to be sad about;
i found great friends and a brand new job
i started studying for tests (and acing them)
i ate alongside my classmates (and enjoyed it)
i finally felt free (of her)

her, on the other hand,
she cried
every day,
all over her finsta
about how much she
loved me and
missed me and
hated me and
loved me;

how could she not?

i was the one who broke her heart.

i was the bad guy,
i was the one who said
“we need a break”

even though this is a breakup poem
and breakup poems are supposed to be written by the victim.

we were best friends first,
(as they always are)
the ones who unfailingly
texted “good morning” and “good night”
asked each other if our days went well
and comforted each other when they did not

we were an epic love story,
all of our friends were jealous
and they admired
us. we were going to last

until one day
in the middle of the summer
i woke up
feeling nothing for her
and the next day
and the next day
and the next

until i couldn’t just ignore it anymore,
it couldn’t just be something
in the back of my mind
pushed deep down because
i wanted us to remain:
in love?

we tried to remain best friends,
because how could you live without your best friend when
breaking up with your girlfriend?
but there’s something so wrong about
shit-talking your ex to your best friend
when your best friend is your ex,
and the boundaries between
girlfriend and
bestfriend had
blurred so much they were
impossible to untangle.

we were best friends first
until ‘we’ became ‘me’ and ‘her’
and ‘us’ became a chore because
‘we’ overstayed its welcome
and it was impossible to remain ‘best’ or ‘friends’ anymore, so

today, when 
my ex-girlfriend said
she wanted to get back together with me

i had to accept my fate
as the villain in our epic.

#LadyPower in Marie de France’s “Yonec”

In “Yonec,” one of the twelve poems included in The Lais of Marie de France, Marie crafts a short but fascinating narrative that includes characters from the otherworld and explores themes like jealousy, love, and rebellion. If you haven’t read “Yonec,” give it a try! It’s only a few pages long, but as I’m going to demonstrate in this article, there’s a lot you can unpack.

At the beginning of the poem, a lady makes a speech that expresses her frustration with her situation. And her emotions are completely valid—this lady lives with an oppressive husband who controls essentially every aspect of her life. She’s completely isolated.

While the poem was likely written in the late twelfth century, the inquiries that can be derived from the text are timeless. Here’s a more in-depth understanding of the lady’s lament and its implications in Marie’s narrative poem.

At the beginning of her speech, the lady expresses frustration and aggrievement. Her strong feelings of isolation are apparent as she verbalizes her distress:

‘Alas,’ she said, ‘that ever I was born! My destiny is hard indeed. I am a prisoner in this tower and death alone will free me. What is this jealous old man afraid of, to keep me so securely imprisoned? He is extremely stupid and foolish, always fearing that he will be betrayed. I can neither go to church nor hear God’s service. I could put on a friendly mien for him, even without any desire to do so, if I could talk to people and join them in amusement. (Marie 87)

Until the events that follow her speech, the lady’s actions were dictated by her controlling husband. Because of her husband’s jealousy and his abuse of patriarchal power, the lady was essentially separated from the rest of society. He had locked her in a tower for seven years, did not permit her to see her family and friends, and had his sister act like the lady’s prison guard. His mistreatment of his authority resulted in  misery for the lady, a woman he supposedly loved.

The lady also seems to take agency over her isolation.

However, the lady also seems to take agency over her isolation. The lady’s husband secluded her from all company, but the lady is aware that he was not the only person involved in her predicament. She continues her speech by cursing her relatives. In imprecating her relations, the lady isolates herself from her social environment; while she is already physically separated from society, the lady creates space from others through her speech. Her words seem to be a retaliation to her relations, as they allowed her marriage to the jealous man to take place, and the match was likely made against her will. 

The lady’s strong emotions of frustration and loneliness—feelings that arose from her unjust situation and her husband’s ill-treatment towards her—inspire rebellion. In the last part of her lament, the lady makes a wish:

I have often heard tell that in this country one used to encounter adventures which relieved those afflicted by care: knights discovered maidens to their liking, noble and fair, and ladies found handsome and courtly lovers, worthy and valiant men.  There was no fear of reproach and they alone could see them. If this can be and ever was, if it ever did happen to anyone, may almighty God grant my wish! (Marie 87)

She hopes for a knight, with characteristics that differ greatly from her husband, to discover her and become her lover. Subsequently, a hawk arrives and transforms into a handsome knight who fulfills her wish. It is interesting to note that the hawk can be seen as a symbol of freedom, as the lady had claimed that death alone could free her; the knight provides a way for the lady to gain the freedom that she wished for, even though she did not think she could achieve it without death. The knight and the lady soon enter into an adulterous relationship and continue to see each other until their affair is discovered by the jealous man’s sister. 

Marie illustrates the power of the lady’s conviction through the implications of the lady’s speech. It is through her imagination that the woman can call upon the knight to her tower. In “The Power of Feminine Anger in Marie de France’s ‘Yonec’ and ‘Guigemar,” Jennifer Willging writes about how Marie does not set apart reality and the imagination, which in turn demonstrates her refusal to support the idea that the mind and body are separated, a concept that twelfth-century theology promoted.

The woman is human, yet she can summon the knight. Furthermore, the knight has aspects of the otherworldly, but he is able to have a child with the lady. Marie’s story gives power and agency to the woman, as the consequences of the lady’s speech produce the remaining plot, and she contradicts the idea that femininity equals irrationality. 

Furthermore, the adulterous relationship between the knight and the lady could be considered an act of rebellion in response to her husband’s abuse of patriarchal power. Rather than framing the woman in a negative light for her rebellious infidelity, the woman’s actions are seen as just. After their passing, the knight and the lady are honored and remembered for their love.

In the narrative, the lady is not depicted as illogical or hysterical, and her strong emotions are what allows her to escape from her controlling husband.

The story frames the lady and knight as the protagonists, while the lady’s husband is the evil and irrational character. Thus, the lady’s anger and her actions that result from her frustration are depicted as intuitive and acceptable responses to the unfortunate situation she was in. In the narrative, the lady is not depicted as illogical or hysterical, and her strong emotions are what allows her to escape from her controlling husband. 

By analyzing how Marie included the concepts of isolation, rebellion, and imagination in “Yonec,” we can see how “Yonec” demonstrates the power of the woman’s speech and validates the actions that stem from feminine feelings. Thus, we can see “Yonec” as a celebration of individual agency and imagination that considers the significance of rebellion stemming as a response to abused power and legitimate emotions. 

Works Cited

Marie, et al. The Lais of Marie De France. Penguin Books Ltd, 1999. Willging, Jennifer. 

A Sad Girl’s Love Song

by Leio Koga //

Slyvia Plath left a literary legacy behind her, although her story is quite the tragedy. Plath was a brilliant student but struggled with severe mental illnesses from a young age. By the time she was 30, Plath was well-known in the literary community. She was known for her confessional style of writing and poetry; her pieces were described to intensely portray her mental anguish, volatile emotional state, troubled marriage, poor self-image, and unresolved conflict with her parents. Plath wrote some of her most famous pieces, including, “Daddy,” “The Bell Jar,” and “The Colossus,” during the worst mental state of her life. She fell into a deep depression and committed suicide when she was only 31. 

I was exposed to the power of Plath’s words when I first read “Mad Girl’s Love Song” during my senior year of high school. This poem is about someone who is going through heartbreak and suffering from mental health issues. The poem, though very abstract, clearly depicts the dangers of living within one’s mind all the time, especially when one’s thoughts are clouded by heartbreak and pain. Plath draws on the idea of how romance is not romantic at all. The way Plath writes, love is empty, unfulfilling, and possibly, all in one’s head. While she wrote this poem when she was just 20 years old, I could clearly see her internal, emotional turbulence of heartbreak and unrequited love. I wanted to recreate this poem as a reflection of the anguish and pure sadness that her words made me feel. 

A Sad Girl’s Love Song

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead

Trapped in a vision of the infinite ocean

The vicious waves of your love I tread 

The breeze whispers like a lover, but I was only mislead 

I am the waves undeniably drawn back into your deep, perilous sea 

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead 

Your anger is a storm—fast but calamitous— I always dread

Each time I mend my broken pieces just for your disaster to strike me again 

And leave my soul in shreds

God topples from the sky, hell’s waves rise and crash, and I hang on by a thread

But the raft tips over and I thrash, sob, curse your name  

I wish I made you up inside my head 

I fell for the way your surface sparkled, but instead

Your love was the world of secrecy underneath it 

Chained to an anchor, darkness consumed me whole but still, for you, my heart bled 

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead

Trapped in a vision of the infinite ocean 

And at the bottom is where you are, on a throne created from my tears of pain  

I wish I made you up inside my head