Archive | May 2015

Philomel must lose her tongue to-day: Memory, Memorial, and the Emptiness of Women’s Speech

Jeanne de Montbaston

Nike of Samothrace, from the Louvre collection. Nike of Samothrace, from the Louvre collection.

A few weeks ago, I read a beautiful piece by Sarah Ditum. She explores the ways in which women’s work – partly because it is inherently open-ended, needed to be done over and over – is dismissed, ignored, excluded from historical memorial. Drawing on a parallel history of women’s art, lacemaking and broderie anglaise, which create objects literally ‘spun around nothing’, she sets up a shockingly poignant contrast between the image of frivolous vanity and the reality of relentless, thankless labour. Ditum’s post was written in response to the news that the 2005 memorial to the women of World War II had been defaced, and so she explains how she found herself having to explain to her son why women weren’t originally included on the main memorial itself:

” … [the women] weren’t counted when the Cenotaph went up. Their work was non-work. Just air, like the holes in my lace…

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Prayer for a Summer Sunday morning

I ask peace, protection and blessing of this Sunday morning all this day, through the purple of Twilight and blackness of night.
Greenest of sycamore
Laughter of raven
Cheerfulness of nasturtium,
Clarity of sun and sky
Sweetness of roses
Soothing scent if osmanthus
Busyness of finch
Intelligence of cat
Sturdiness of oak
Be with me all this day,  though night to tomorrow’s dawn