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  #1  
Unread 10-23-2019, 01:09 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default The Queen

Mirror, Mirror

In her, you see yourself when you were younger:
hesitant, open, looking for a guide
to help her through the maze. You know that hunger.
“Have an apple.” Have some cyanide.
You’re not her mother. It is not your duty
to smooth her path. Each day she grows in beauty.

There are so many ways for her to fail.
She sees you as a mentor, not a foe
who’d eat her heart. Just point her to the trail
where snares and ruthless blades await, as though
you have no inkling what the world will do
to her, soon. And at last, of course, to you.

Revisions:
L2 Missing "a" added before "guide"
L14 was "to her, quite soon. And then, of course, to you." Then "to her, quite soon. And, later on, to you."

Last edited by Susan McLean; 10-26-2019 at 12:14 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 10-23-2019, 01:43 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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A missing indefinite article in line 2?
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  #3  
Unread 10-23-2019, 02:13 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Thanks, Ann. I don't know how I missed that, but I have put it in now.

Susan
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  #4  
Unread 10-23-2019, 03:11 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

Very nice. In this line - "to help her through the maze" - I'd be inclined to change her to you.
The Queen is of course the traditional first toast offered at UK dinner gatherings. Glad that's not your title!

Cheers,
John
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  #5  
Unread 10-23-2019, 03:59 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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John, I am inclined to keep it "her" in L3. The person you were long ago is not the person you are right now. And the queen is choosing not to help "her" despite seeing the similarity.

Susan
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  #6  
Unread 10-23-2019, 04:17 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Susan,

I can see what this is about in general: The older woman is jealous of the younger one for her youth and beauty, and there's a consequent lack of solidarity here, and the older woman sabotages the younger woman's life/career while feigning a supporting role -- although ultimately it's 'the world' that does the harm; so, the older woman puts the younger one in harms way (the trail of traps and knives) rather than shielding/protecting her.

I'm wondering if there's a specific scenario, or an intending setting maybe (business, academia?) which you're thinking of. Perhaps something to locate or ground this in that might be helpful (to me, anyway)? It currently seems a bit generic/general to me, though it might well be very clear to someone with experience of this.

With regard to "what the world will do / to her, quite soon. And then, of course, to you.": I can see this in the fairy tale scenario. Bad things happen to the the herione, but ultimately the stepmother/wicked queen gets her comeuppance. But I'm not sure how that happens there in the imaged real-world scenario.

In real-world scenario, and given the opening of S1, it seems likely that what the world will do the young woman has already happened to the wicked queen figure when she herself was young. So presumably what the world will do the older woman is something different? So what comeuppance happens here -- and what stops the older more powerful woman from simply getting away her actions? Are these karmic consequences? Or is what happens unrelated to her actions: is it that the queen's fading beauty fades fully? Or something else? It might be useful to have more clues. Or maybe if I knew a specific scenario it'd be clearer.

In terms of stucture: S2 to seems to repeat S1 somewhat: "She sees you as a mentor, not a foe" seems to largely restate: "hesitant, open, looking for a guide / to help her through the maze". "Point her to the trail ..." seems a thematic repetition of S1's "Have some cyanide".

Absent the cynanide in S1, the stanzas would seem more distinct: the first stanza would seem to show the resentment/self-justification (it's not your job to shelter her, you're not her mother, and look she's so beautiful) and the apparent help offered (the apple), and then S2 would address/reveal the actual sabotage. That said, I guess I can read "have some cynanide" in S1 as only a thought: part of the resentment not an actual action.

Anyway, it might be worth considering what happens if you replace 'have some cyanide' in S1 with another fairy tale scenario -- an apparent offer of help / assistance or gift like the apple, then have the 'cyanide' part in S2, alongside the trail with its knives.

best,

Matt


John,

Not at any I've attended
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  #7  
Unread 10-23-2019, 05:00 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Matt, thanks for your detailed response. I needed to know how much of my intent could come across without any explanation from me, and you showed me that most of it is coming through. So, yes, this is using the template of the Snow White story to address current interactions between some powerful women and the younger women who look to them for mentoring. Many women do step up and mentor the younger women in their sphere (whatever that sphere may be), but a few see them as the competition and do things to undermine or mislead them--or simply ignore their requests for help. I am taking a "sympathy for the devil" approach to these women in the figure of the queen. The powerful women probably faced a hard time getting to where they are. They may have a "I had it tough, so that's just the way it is" attitude. But I think their main motivation is fear--of competition, of the way the world favors the young and beautiful and, conversely, what the world does to older women, even the powerful ones.

Have some cyanide was supposed to be just the queen's thought, but it also points to the poisonous nature of the "gift" of the apple (and apples have a lot of resonance as an image). The poisoned apple in the fairy tale comes after the attempted murder of Snow White by the huntsman in the woods (on the queen's orders). But I thought starting with a physical gift was a good way to disarm suspicion of the advice that is then offered about which path to take.

Susan

Last edited by Susan McLean; 10-23-2019 at 05:02 AM.
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  #8  
Unread 10-23-2019, 06:34 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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I agree with Matt about the timeline of experience. I can't help seeing the betrayal of the young woman as a secondhand revenge and find myself wanting to finish the last line ..."as it has done to you."

That extends into a larger warning - "bugger the glass ceiling, watch out for your older sisters".

Of course you might have wanted to imply that karma will eventally reward the older woman for her cruelty. In which case, ignore me.
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Unread 10-23-2019, 07:42 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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I have the same issue as Matt and Ann. Matt actually got further than I did, recognizing that Snow White's queen gets (further?) punishment after harming SW. I couldn't understand the implication that the queen's hurt comes after misleading the younger woman.

It may be that the harm the speaker will suffer would come across with equal clarity if it weren't mentioned. Everyone knows the queen doesn't triumph in the end. Of course, then there's the question of how to end the poem.

This would be more meaningful to me if I understand more clearly how the older woman anticipates harming/misleading the younger. (Maybe if I were a woman that wouldn't need explanation.)
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Unread 10-23-2019, 08:16 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

There is i think a little slipperiness to your pronouns there. Ultimately, go with what you think best, of course.
Matt: evidently it's called "The Loyal Toast." Who knew? I don't think I've ever heard that given as a first toast either, but it was a common joke. Here you are: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyal_toast

Cheers,
John
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