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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Gender Neutral Love Story

Now that we are in an age when the past must be reshaped to our temporary modern prejudices, it is time to hurl ourselves* sword a-whirling into the ranks of English** poets.

See how the application of gender-neutral pronouns improves William Barnes, for instance:

WOAK HILL, by William Barnes

When sycamore leaves wer a-spreadèn
Green-ruddy in hedges,
Bezide the red doust o' the ridges,
A-dried at Woak Hill;

I packed up my goods all a sheenèn
Wi' long years o' handlèn,
On dousty red wheel ov a waggon,
To ride at Woak Hill.

The brown thatchen ruf o' the dwellèn,
I then wer a-le{'a}vèn,
Had shelter'd the sleek head o' Me{'a}ry,
My bride at Woak Hill.

But now vor zome years, zir light voot-vall
'S a-lost vrom the vloorèn.
Too soon vor my ja{'y} an' my childern,
Zie died at Woak Hill.

But still I do think that, in soul,
Zie do hover about us;
To ho vor zir motherless childern,
Zir pride at Woak Hill.

Zoo--lest zie should tell me hereafter
I stole off 'ithout zir,
An' left zir, uncall'd at house-riddèn,
To bide at Woak Hill--

I call'd zir so fondly, wi' lippèns
All soundless to others,
An' took zir wi' a{'i}r-reachèn hand,
To my zide at Woak Hill.

On the road I did look round, a-talkèn
To light at my shoulder,
An' then led zir in at the doorway,
Miles wide vrom Woak Hill.

An' that's why vo'k thought, vor a season,
My mind wer a-wandrèn
Wi' sorrow, when I wer so sorely
A-tried at Woak Hill.

But no; that my Me{'a}ry mid never
Behold zirzelf slighted,
I wanted to think that I guided
My guide vrom Woak Hill. 


- adapted from the text found at https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/woak-hill/

__________________________________________

* But why do we distinguish between self and other? Another fruitful field for the university Bowdlerisers, perhaps.

** And then there's nationality! 

Surely we are in the prigs' Promised Land. 

Or California. maybe:

"California's New Transgender Regulations: What Employers Need to Know" -

I think it's all San Andrea's fault.

2 comments:

Sackerson said...

JD comments:

How would that work in other languages?

The sun is masculine in French and in Spanish; le soleil, el sol, but it is feminine in German; die Sonne. French and Spanish nouns are all either masculine or feminine but in German there are three choices; der, die, das.

This could all get very complicated and confusing and that's before I even start trying to explain the Arabic way of doing things! Here's a quick guide just to help your brain to explode

http://arabic.speak7.com/arabic_pronouns.htm

Eastern languages are very, very different from European languages, they involve a different way of thinking.

Twilight said...

Isn't this wonderful! LOL! Good job, Sackerson!
Also you wrote **What about nationality.
That reminded me of the form I had to complete last week in order to have a routine eye test. Two sides filled with quite intrusive questions. I felt quite niggled by the time I got to filling in "Race/Ethnicity" so wrote "Human/Caucasian" I was inclined to leave it at simply "Human" but decided that if I did they might metaphorically spit in my soup and give me faulty lenses - which they did anyway!