Guest poem submitted by :
(Poem #1298) Miss Gee
Let me tell you a little story About Miss Edith Gee; She lived in Clevedon Terrace At number 83. She'd a slight squint in her left eye, Her lips they were thin and small, She had narrow sloping shoulders And she had no bust at all. She'd a velvet hat with trimmings, And a dark grey serge costume; She lived in Clevedon Terrace In a small bed-sitting room. She'd a purple mac for wet days, A green umbrella too to take, She'd a bicycle with shopping basket And a harsh back-pedal break. The Church of Saint Aloysius Was not so very far; She did a lot of knitting, Knitting for the Church Bazaar. Miss Gee looked up at the starlight And said, 'Does anyone care That I live on Clevedon Terrace On one hundred pounds a year?' She dreamed a dream one evening That she was the Queen of France And the Vicar of Saint Aloysius Asked Her Majesty to dance. But a storm blew down the palace, She was biking through a field of corn, And a bull with the face of the Vicar Was charging with lowered horn. She could feel his hot breath behind her, He was going to overtake; And the bicycle went slower and slower Because of that back-pedal break. Summer made the trees a picture, Winter made them a wreck; She bicycled to the evening service With her clothes buttoned up to her neck. She passed by the loving couples, She turned her head away; She passed by the loving couples, And they didn't ask her to stay. Miss Gee sat in the side-aisle, She heard the organ play; And the choir sang so sweetly At the ending of the day, Miss Gee knelt down in the side-aisle, She knelt down on her knees; 'Lead me not into temptation But make me a good girl, please.' The days and nights went by her Like waves round a Cornish wreck; She bicycled down to the doctor With her clothes buttoned up to her neck. She bicycled down to the doctor, And rang the surgery bell; 'O, doctor, I've a pain inside me, And I don't feel very well.' Doctor Thomas looked her over, And then he looked some more; Walked over to his wash-basin, Said,'Why didn't you come before?' Doctor Thomas sat over his dinner, Though his wife was waiting to ring, Rolling his bread into pellets; Said, 'Cancer's a funny thing. 'Nobody knows what the cause is, Though some pretend they do; It's like some hidden assassin Waiting to strike at you. 'Childless women get it. And men when they retire; It's as if there had to be some outlet For their foiled creative fire.' His wife she rang for the servent, Said, 'Dont be so morbid, dear'; He said: 'I saw Miss Gee this evening And she's a goner, I fear.' They took Miss Gee to the hospital, She lay there a total wreck, Lay in the ward for women With her bedclothes right up to her neck. They lay her on the table, The students began to laugh; And Mr. Rose the surgeon He cut Miss Gee in half. Mr. Rose he turned to his students, Said, 'Gentlemen if you please, We seldom see a sarcoma As far advanced as this.' They took her off the table, They wheeled away Miss Gee Down to another department Where they study Anatomy. They hung her from the ceiling Yes, they hung up Miss Gee; And a couple of Oxford Groupers Carefully dissected her knee.
At last I've found Miss Gee (again)! I first encountered her cycling along in her purple mac pursued by the Vicar bull in a college textbook. In her own quiet way Miss Gee spoke volumes for loneliness, repression, disease and death. Something about this sad, funny, cruel tale struck me and I was never able to forget the protagonist. Now many years later after searching in vain on the internet, I decided to go and look through the Auden collection at the University. Sure enough there she was in stack 800 something, hiding with her clothes buttoned up to her neck! For me the most important facet of the poem is that it never really lets you sympathise easily with Miss Gee. Instead of creating dark sentimental lines to make us feel Miss Gee's misery, Auden turns the tables and invites us to laugh at her. And it is through the cruel humor of this deceptively simple poem, through our own guilt, and recognition that we begin to understand Miss Gee's tragedy... Some things that caught my attention on reading this poem the second time were the mention of Saint Aloysius, and the 'Cornish Wreck'. So I went and did some research: Saint Aloysius: Born in Castiglione, Spain on the 9th of March in 1568. Aloysius was also deeply faithful and pious. By the age of 9 he had privately decided on a religious Life, and made a vow of perpetual virginity. He practiced many devotions and mortifications, and safeguarded himself at all times from possible temptation. A kidney disease confined Saint Aloysius to his bed for some time, removed from the normal full social life of a young man in his position. Bedrest would be a difficult challenge for any vigourous young man, but Aloysius resigned himself to it. Far from being bored, or despairing of his health, he spent his time in prayer and reading the Lives of the Saints. His resolve to become a Jesuit was formed and firmed at this time. He served in a hospital during the plague of 1587 in Milan. In time, he fell victim to the dreaded disease himself, and died at the age of 23. This young man, patron to all young people, was beatified in 1621, and declared a saint in 1725. -- http://www.domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19980501/SAINTS/STALOY.HTM ) So it was to this gentle Patron Saint of the young and the sick that Miss Gee prayed to make her a 'good girl'... Cornish Wreck: Apparently there are some 3,500 odd wreck sites that have been accounted for around the dangerous Cornish coastline. Some if not all of these have become tourist attractions, and thousands of avid divers dissect the Cornish coast for these wrecks. -- [broken link] http://lyonessetrading.co.uk/THE%20SEA/WRECKS.htm Miss Gee is among the thousands of silent lives that have been destroyed by the ravages of cancer. Of course she happened to be one of the rare few who lived beyond her life in the anatomy chambers. After a life time of repression, buttoning-up, and muffled yearnings (for loving couples and the Vicar) Miss Gee finally had her pick of Oxford Groupers* hovering around her wreck! * Grouper: noun, plural 'groupers' also 'grouper' Etymology: Portuguese 'garoupa' Any of numerous fishes (family Serranidae and especially genera Epinephelus and Mycteroperca) that are typically large solitary bottom-dwelling fishes of warm seas -- www.m-w.com but also * a member of the "Oxford Group": This movement, which began around 1908, was originally called "A First Century Christian Fellowship". It was begun by Frank N. Buchman, a Lutheran minister from Pennsylvania. The Oxford Group was focused upon changing the world, 'One Person at a Time'. At Oxford Group 'House Parties', members 'surrendered' on their knees and gave testimony (or shared) of their deliverance from their 'sin' of alcoholism, smoking, etc. Around 1940 the Oxford Group changed its name to Moral Re-Armament. This movement still exists today with offices worldwide. -- [broken link] http://members.tripod.com/aainsa/history/founding.html