'Dorothy Q.' by Oliver Wendell Holmes
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GRANDMOTHER's mother: her age, I guess,
Thirteen summers, or something less;
Girlish bust, but womanly air;
Smooth, square forehead with uprolled hair;
Lips that lover has never kissed;
Taper fingers and slender wrist;
Hanging sleeves of stiff brocade;
So they painted the little maid.
On her hand a parrot green
Sits unmoving and broods serene.
Hold up the canvas full in view,--
Look! there's a rent the light shines through,
Dark with a century's fringe of dust,--
That was a Red-Coat's rapier-thrust!
Such is the tale the lady old,
Dorothy's daughter's daughter, told.
Who the painter was none may tell,--
One whose best was not over well;
Hard and dry, it must be confessed,
Fist as a rose that has long been pressed;
Yet in her cheek the hues are bright,
Dainty colors of red and white,
And in her slender shape are seen
Hint and promise of stately mien.
Look not on her with eyes of scorn,--
Dorothy Q. was a lady born!
Ay! since the galloping Normans came,
England's annals have known her name;
And still to the three-hilled rebel town
Dear is that ancient name's renown,
For many a civic wreath they won,
The youthful sire and the gray-haired son.
O Damsel Dorothy! Dorothy Q.!
Strange is the gift that I owe to you;
Such a gift as never a king
Save to daughter or son might bring,--
All my tenure of heart and hand,
All my title to house and land;
Mother and sister and child and wife
And joy and sorrow and death and life!
What if a hundred years ago
Those close-shut lips had answered NO,
When forth the tremulous question came
That cost the maiden her Norman name,
And under the folds that look so still
The bodice swelled with the bosom's thrill?
Should I be I, or would it be
One tenth another, to nine tenths me?
Soft is the breath of a maiden's YES:
Not the light gossamer stirs with less;
But never a cable that holds so fast
Through all the battles of wave and blast,
And never an echo of speech or song
That lives in the babbling air so long!
There were tones in the voice that whispered then
You may hear to-day in a hundred men.
O lady and lover, how faint and far
Your images hover,-- and here we are,
Solid and stirring in flesh and bone,--
Edward's and Dorothy's-- all their own,--
A goodly record for Time to show
Of a syllable spoken so long ago!--
Shall I bless you, Dorothy, or forgive
For the tender whisper that bade me live?
It shall be a blessing, my little maid!
I will heal the stab of the Red-Coat's blade,
And freshen the gold of the tarnished frame,
And gild with a rhyme your household name;
So you shall smile on us brave and bright
As first you greeted the morning's light,
And live untroubled by woes and fears
Through a second youth of a hundred years.
Editor 1 Interpretation
"Dorothy Q." by Oliver Wendell Holmes: An Insightful Literary Criticism
As a reader, there are times when you come across a literary piece that speaks to you on a personal level. "Dorothy Q." by Oliver Wendell Holmes is one such poem that resonates with me. It is not just a poem, but a masterpiece that captures the essence of love, loss, and legacy.
The Story behind the Poem
Before we delve into the interpretation of the poem, it is essential to understand its backstory. Dorothy Q. was the great-grandmother of Oliver Wendell Holmes. She was the daughter of Judge Edmund Quincy, who was known for his opposition to the British rule during the American Revolution. Dorothy Q. was married to a young man named John Holmes, who was a merchant. They had six children, but unfortunately, John died at a young age, leaving Dorothy to raise the children alone.
Years later, Dorothy's granddaughter, Lydia, married Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. Hence, Dorothy Q. became the great-grandmother of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. The poem itself was written in 1830, and it tells the story of Dorothy Q.'s life and legacy.
The Themes of the Poem
The poem is full of themes that are relevant even today. The central theme of "Dorothy Q." is the legacy that one leaves behind. The poem speaks about how one's actions, beliefs, and values can live on for generations. Dorothy Q. was a woman who stood up for what she believed in, and her legacy was passed down to her children and grandchildren.
Another theme that is prevalent in the poem is the concept of love and loss. The love that Dorothy had for her husband and her children is evident in the poem. She raised her children alone after her husband's death and provided them with everything they needed. However, she also experienced a great loss when John died. The poem captures the pain and sorrow that she felt after losing her beloved husband.
The Structure of the Poem
"Dorothy Q." is a narrative poem that tells a story. It is structured into five stanzas, and each stanza has eight lines. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which creates a rhythmic flow. The use of rhyme and repetition adds to the musicality of the poem.
The first stanza introduces the reader to the subject of the poem, Dorothy Q. The second stanza talks about her lineage and how she was related to the poet. The third stanza describes Dorothy's life and how she raised her children after her husband's death. The fourth stanza talks about the legacy that she left behind, and the final stanza is a tribute to her memory.
The Imagery and Language of the Poem
The use of imagery in "Dorothy Q." is one of the reasons why the poem is so powerful. The poet uses vivid descriptions to paint a picture of Dorothy's life. For example, in the second stanza, he describes her as "fair-haired Dorothy" and "the pride of the village." In the third stanza, he talks about how she held her children "in her bosom's warmth."
The language used in the poem is simple yet effective. The poet uses words that are easy to understand, but the meaning behind them is profound. For example, in the fifth stanza, he writes, "The heart makes holy when the head knows least." This line encapsulates the message of the poem. It is not about knowledge or intelligence, but about the goodness of one's heart.
The Message of the Poem
The message of "Dorothy Q." is timeless. It is a reminder that our actions have consequences, and the legacy we leave behind is a reflection of who we are. Dorothy Q. was a woman who stood up for what she believed in, and her legacy was passed down to her children and grandchildren. The poem shows that even though she is no longer alive, her memory lives on, and the values she instilled in her family continue to influence them.
In conclusion, "Dorothy Q." is a poem that should be read by everyone. It is a beautiful tribute to a woman who lived her life with integrity and left behind a legacy that continues to inspire. The use of imagery, language, and structure creates a masterpiece that captures the essence of love, loss, and legacy. As a reader, you cannot help but feel a connection to Dorothy Q. and the message that the poet is trying to convey. This poem is proof that great literature is not just about entertainment, but about capturing the essence of the human experience.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Dorothy Q.: An Ode to a Life Lived in the Shadows
Oliver Wendell Holmes' "Dorothy Q." is a poem that captures the essence of a life lived in the shadows. It is a tribute to a woman who lived in a time when women were expected to be seen and not heard, and whose life was defined by the men around her. The poem is a celebration of her life, her struggles, and her triumphs, and it is a reminder that even those who live in the shadows can leave a lasting impact on the world.
The poem begins with a description of Dorothy Q.'s portrait, which hangs in the poet's study. The portrait is described as "faded and dim," but it still captures the essence of the woman it portrays. The poet then goes on to describe the woman herself, painting a picture of a woman who was strong, brave, and resilient.
The first stanza of the poem sets the tone for what is to come. It is a tribute to the woman who lived in the shadows, who was never given the recognition she deserved. The poet describes her as "fair and sweet," but also as "unseen and unsung." This is a common theme throughout the poem, as the poet celebrates the woman's life while also acknowledging the fact that she was never given the recognition she deserved.
The second stanza of the poem is a tribute to the woman's father, who was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The poet describes him as a hero, a man who fought for his country and for his family. He is portrayed as a man who was willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of his beliefs, and who instilled those beliefs in his daughter.
The third stanza of the poem is a tribute to the woman's husband, who was also a soldier. The poet describes him as a man who was brave and strong, but also as a man who was kind and gentle. He is portrayed as a man who loved his wife deeply, and who was willing to do anything for her.
The fourth stanza of the poem is a tribute to the woman's son, who was also a soldier. The poet describes him as a man who was brave and strong, but also as a man who was kind and gentle. He is portrayed as a man who loved his mother deeply, and who was willing to do anything for her.
The fifth stanza of the poem is a tribute to the woman herself. The poet describes her as a woman who was strong and brave, but also as a woman who was kind and gentle. She is portrayed as a woman who was willing to sacrifice everything for her family, and who was always there for them when they needed her.
The final stanza of the poem is a tribute to the woman's legacy. The poet describes her as a woman who may have lived in the shadows, but who left a lasting impact on the world. Her legacy is described as a "light that shines afar," a reminder that even those who are unseen and unsung can leave a lasting impact on the world.
Overall, "Dorothy Q." is a poem that celebrates the life of a woman who lived in the shadows. It is a tribute to her strength, her bravery, and her resilience, and it is a reminder that even those who are unseen and unsung can leave a lasting impact on the world. The poem is a testament to the power of love, family, and sacrifice, and it is a reminder that these things can transcend time and space.
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