In the pathway of the sun,
In the footsteps of the breeze,
Where the world and sky are one,
He shall ride the silver seas,
He shall cut the glittering wave.
I shall sit at home, and rock;
Rise, to heed a neighbor’s knock;
Brew my tea, and snip my thread;
Bleach the linen for my bed.
They will call him brave.
How does the speaker describe her life? How is her life different from that of the male figure describedin lines 1-5? To what extent is Penelope a symbol? What does she symbolize? What is the myth? How does our knowledge of the myth deepen out response to this symbolism?
whats ironic about the line “they will call him brave”
The poem offers an insight of what we may term as brave. A man’s bravery is seen in his journeys, his adventures, his exploits. In contrast, a woman’s life seems so drab and unexicting. But I think the poem shows through its allusion to Penelope that bravery could also be quiet. That waiting for your husband who may be dead while warding the advances of suitors who think you are just another conquest… well, i think that is another form of bravery.
I don’t see Penelope in the Odyssey as evil or conniving… crafty, like her soulmate, but not conniving. I see the speaker in the Parker poem as very, very sure. She knows her life is stifled, dull, and tense… it’s heavily implied by the last line, which usefully opens up the question of what is brave… and, by extension, what is epic.
I am teaching this poem in a second year literature and character course. There is an obvious contrast between this image of Penelope and the image provided in Homer. The female character in Homer is seen as somewhat evil and harsh, coniving and at the same time, passive to some extent, in that her voice is not heard. It is a dead man who tells her story, she does not have a voice. Parker has Penelope as the speaker of her poem, and as a chatacter Penelope is drawing attention to her own awareness of the paradox that exists in her lifestyle. The tone of the poem speaks to the image of someone waiting, holding their breath, but wanting to break out. There is an awareness to the character, and I am unsure if it speaks to the goddess worship pre-Homer or the Feminist (re) awakening of the 60’s + .