cherchez la femme

ballad of the harp weaver

Posted in Uncategorized by stefanie on November 14, 2011

In a madeleine-de-proustian moment this afternoon, I was visited by a vague memory of my favorite childhood book, The Ballad of the Harp Weaver.  It was strangely a moving moment for me, first because I don’t think I’ve had a single thought about it in over 10 years, but probably more because such a feeling of sadness came over me as I started to work through my memories to remember the actual story.

It’s a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, the story of a mother and her son who love each other so dearly… and when the winter comes and their clothes are not warm enough and they’ve burnt the last of their furniture for firewood, they sit together and hold each other and laugh and sing into the cold night.  And as the boy drifts off into sleep, he begins to dream his mother is sitting at their harp, singing and weaving him clothes of bright and luxurious threads… only to awake in the morning to find her frozen dead.

I wonder what a little girl I was to have loved something so sad…  And to be honest, I am not sure what moves me more — the story itself, or the thought that a little 8 year-old heart could already be so compelled by such beauty and sorrow.

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