Poem of the week: My Hat by Stevie Smith

From a poet known for her gloom, this is a sunny, witty vision of a young woman’s liberation

My Hat
Mother said if I wore this hat
I should be certain to get off with the right sort of chap
Well, look where I am now, on a desert island
With so far as I can see no one at hand
I know what has happened though I suppose Mother wouldn’t see
This hat being so strong has completely run away with me
I had the feeling it was beginning to happen the moment I put it on
What a moment that was as I rose up, I rose up like a flying swan
As strong as a swan too, why see how far my hat has flown me
It took us a night to come and then a night and a day
And all the time the swan wing in my hat waved beautifully
Ah, I thought, How this hat becomes me.
First the sea was dark but then it was pale blue
And still the wing beat and we flew and we flew
A night and a day and a night, and by the old right way
Between the sun and the moon we flew until morning day.
It is always early morning here on this peculiar island
The green grass grows into the sea on the dipping land
Am I glad I am here? Yes, well, I am,
It’s nice to be rid of Father, Mother and the young man
There’s just one thing causes me a twinge of pain,
If I take my hat off, shall I find myself home again?
So in this early morning land I always wear my hat
Go home, you see, well I wouldn’t run a risk like that.

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