The great and the small: Mary Ruefle

From a spectacular essay in Poetry by Mary Ruefle

I remember John Moore, another teacher, who did the damnedest thing. We
were studying Yeats, and at the beginning of one class Mr. Moore asked
us if we would like to see a picture of Yeats. We nodded, and he held up
a photograph of Yeats taken when he was six months old, a baby dressed
in a long white gown. Maybe he was even younger, maybe he was an infant.
I thought it was the funniest thing anyone had ever done, the
strangest, most ridiculous, absurd thing to have done. But nobody
laughed and if Mr. Moore thought it was funny, you couldn’t tell by his
face. I always liked him for that. The poems we were reading in class
were not written by a baby. And yet whenever I think of Yeats, I see him
as a tiny baby wearing a dress—that photograph is part of my conception
of the great Irish poet. And I love that it is so. We are all so small.

Yes, and how mightily we endeavor to escape our fate


From my story on a production of The Trojan Women, staring Helen, Cassandra, and Hecuba at California Lutheran University. 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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