(Poem #517) The Gipsy Girl
"Come, try your skill, kind gentlemen, A penny for three tries!" Some threw and lost, some threw and won A ten-a-penny prize. She was a tawny gipsy girl, A girl of twenty years, I liked her for the lumps of gold That jingled from her ears; I liked the flaring yellow scarf Bound loose around her throat, I liked her showy purple gown And flashy velvet coat. A man came up, too loose of tongue, And said no good to her; She did not blush as Saxons do, Or turn upon the cur; She fawned and whined "Sweet gentleman, A penny for three tries!" - But oh, the den of wild things in The darkness of her eyes!
A vivid poem, dancing with life and colour, and enhanced by a simple narrative style - Georgian poetry may have fallen into disfavour, but at its best it produced some very good poems indeed, and today's is a fine example. 'Gipsy Girl' is a perceptive look at the Gypsy as coloured by popular stereotypes - all the little details that stand out and mark her as the exotic Outsider, one who 'did not blush as Saxons do', or indeed dress or act as they did, or pursue a respectable occupation. The shift in tone at the end is handled beautifully too - it made me shiver, both for the unexpectedness and for the sheer power of the image. (And note how, on a deeper level, it merely reinforces the perception of gypsies as wild, and not quite human.) Biography: Hodgson, Ralph b. Sept. 9, 1871, Yorkshire, Eng. d. Nov. 3, 1962, Minerva, Ohio, U.S. poet noted for simple and mystical lyrics that express a love of nature and a concern for modern man's progressive alienation from it. While working as a journalist in London and later as the editor of Fry's Magazine, Hodgson belonged to the loosely connected group of poets known as the Georgians. After teaching English literature at Sendai University in Japan (1924-38), he emigrated to the United States, retiring to a small farm outside Minerva, Ohio. Most of Hodgson's works were written between 1907 and 1917, a period that ushered in the modernist revolution in poetry, in which he took little part. He achieved fame as a poet with the publication of the frequently anthologized "The Bull" in 1913. His collections include The Last Blackbird and Other Lines (1907), Eve (1913), Poems (1917), The Skylark and Other Poems (1958), and Collected Poems (1961). -- EB Links: Here's a collection of Georgian poetry: http://www.geocities.com/~bblair/gp3_title.htm and a note on the movement: http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/printable/1/0,5722,37231,00.html For a nice commentary on the poem, see http://www.geocities.com/~bblair/990909.htm -martin