Poem: Writing of Self
The times when human souls were found unequal
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and countless Marys all found no one to look up to
seemed to be gone.
But now when life presents a self-made sequel
to roles and expectations cloaked in mildew,
your words I look upon.
To author your own path, and face, and outlook
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is every person’s right and destination,
And confidence in self, with which you once shook
your peers and friends – your generation,
will not be marred.
Early feminism was a movement represented mostly by women, who wanted to have equal rights such as a right to vote. However, other themes of inequality were discussed by feminists as well. Virginia Woolf was an English author of famous and influential literary works that significantly affected the narrative of early feminism. She explored the topics of self-confidence and autonomy of women not only as individuals but also as professional writers, poets, and creators.
Her book A Room of One’s Own, written in 1929 as an essay following her lectures and investigations into women’s literary history, became one of the pillars of early feminism (Ratcliffe, 2016). In this book, Woolf talked about inequality between men and women in the field of writing, the place of women in the field dominated by men, and the importance of access to educational and working opportunities in improving one’s skills (Bowlby, 2016).
The poem “Writing of Self” is a reflection of Woolf’s influence and the importance of the early feminist movement. It is important for younger generations to recognize the deeds of the movement’s pioneers and to use it as a basis for further improvements. This poem is inspired by Woolf’s notion that “life for both sexes … is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle … it calls for confidence in oneself” (Woolf, 2015, p. 27).
Bowlby, R. (Ed.). (2016). Virginia Woolf. New York, NY: Routledge.
Ratcliffe, K. (2016). Anglo-American feminist challenges to the rhetorical traditions: Virginia Woolf, Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich. Carbondale, IL: SIU Press.
Woolf, V. (2015). A room of one’s own and three guineas. Oxford, UK: OUP Oxford.