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(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a cento, a tricky form made up of lines borrowed from other poems. I probably spent more time on this hodgepodge of feminism than anything else this month. I only changed some punctuation here, and I’ve included annotations for where I found each line at the bottom of this post.)

I have not stood long on the strand of life,
And I’m learning (though it sometimes really hurts me)
The irresponsibility of the male.
Everything was theirs because they thought so;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty,
And you just know he knows he knows
The woman to be nobler than the man.
Meekly we let ourselves be diverted,
And woman in a bitter world must do the best she can.

Mere women, personal and passionate,
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
‘Thou shalt not live by dreams alone.
Go, gird thyself with grace; collect thy store
Of blue midsummer loveliness,
Of love’s austere and lonely offices,
Of lads that wore their honors out,
Of lusting, laughter, passion, pain.’

In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come.
Why do you show only the dark side?”
It’s the keeping-your-chin-up that’s hard.
For men may come and men may go,
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
I might as well be glad!
I shall not pass this way again.
________________________________

MPA rating: PG-13

While playing Eleven in Stranger Things made an instant star out of Millie Bobby Brown, Enola Holmes let her put that star power to use as not only the titular character but also a producer for this adaptation of Nancy Springer’s YA book series, one of Brown’s favorites as a child. As the previously unknown sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes (here played by Henry Cavill and Sam Claflin, respectively), Enola shares their natural precociousness, thanks in large part to the unconventional homeschooling of her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter). When Eudoria suddenly disappears, leaving only vague clues behind, Enola flees the expectations of her brothers to become a conforming Victorian lady and runs off to London in search of her mum while also stumbling into a murder plot involving a young marquess (Louis Partridge).

Despite some menace and light violence, the film is a light-hearted affair through and through, and I’m glad to see that clean, tween-friendly adventures of this quality are still being made. Brown shows far more charisma than in the role of Eleven and uses it to playful effect as she breaks the fourth wall, conversing freely with the audience like a first-person narrator. Some Sherlock Holmes fans might be disappointed (I understand many were) with Cavill’s restrained and less-than-omniscient portrayal of the famous detective, but he’s more of a side character here and still employs his famed deductive ability on occasion. Claflin’s Mycroft is more of an antagonist, acting as the aggressively traditional authority figure trying to crush Enola’s spirited individuality with corsets and boarding school, which by now have become clichéd forms of Victorian oppression.

The period costumes and locations are top-notch, and Enola’s puzzle-solving and gentle subversions keep the plot engaging, despite it feeling overly complex at times. One element that felt odd was Enola’s mother, who is shown to be her hero and dearest inspiration for thinking outside the box yet also is implied to be involved in some kind of feminist terrorist plot. That storyline is never resolved, and her final scene doesn’t really compensate for how she abandoned her daughter without explanation, leaving her character in a strange position of semi-sympathy. Hopefully, the sequel due later this year will address that further and give Brown another opportunity to bring her appealing character to life.

Best line: (Sherlock, giving sleuthing advice) “Look for what’s there, not what you want to be there.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2022 S.G. Liput
772 Followers and Counting

Annotated poem:

‘I have not stood long on the strand of life, (Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
And I’m learning (though it sometimes really hurts me) (“Learning” by Judith Viorst)
The irresponsibility of the male (“Parturition” by Mina Loy)
Everything was theirs because they thought so. (“The Last One” by W. S. Merwin)
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty (“When I Was One-and-Twenty” by A.E. Housman)
And you just know he knows he knows. (“The Sloth” by Theodore Roethke)
The woman to be nobler than the man, (Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Meekly we let ourselves be diverted (“Great Infirmities” by Charles Simic)
And woman in a bitter world must do the best she can. (“The Harpy” by Robert Service)

Mere women, personal and passionate, (Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Somewhere ages and ages hence: (“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost)
‘Thou shalt not live by dreams alone (“Religious Instruction” by Mina Loy)
Go, gird thyself with grace; collect thy store (“The Rights of Women” by Anna Laetitia Barbald)
Of blue midsummer loveliness, (“A Summer Morning” by Rachel Field)
of love’s austere and lonely offices? (“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden)
Of lads that wore their honors out (“To an Athlete Dying Young” by A.E. Housman)
Of lusting, laughter, passion, pain, (“Prelude” from Ballads of a Bohemian by Robert Service)

In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come; (“The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet)
Why do you show only the dark side?” (“Käthe Kollwitz” by Muriel Rukeyser)
It’s the keeping-your-chin-up that’s hard. (“The Quitter” by Robert Service)
For men may come and men may go (“The Brook” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— (“First Fig” by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
I might as well be glad!” (“The Penitent” by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
I shall not pass this way again. (“I Shall Not Pass This Way Again” by Anonymous)