Thoughts After Ruskin.

By Alison February 6, 2007 3 Comments 1 Min Read


Women reminded him of lilies and roses.
Me they remind me rather of blood and soap,
Armed with a warm rag, assaulting noses,
Ears, neck, mouth and all the secret places.

Armed with a sharp knife, cutting up liver,
Holding hearts to bleed under a running tap,
Gutting and stuffing, pickiling and preserving,
Scalding, blanching, broiling, pulverising,
-All the terrible chemistry of their kitchens.

Their distant husbands lean across mahogany
And delicately manipulate the market,
While safe at home, the tender and the gentle
Are killing tiny mice, dead snap by the neck,
Asphiyxiating flies, evicting spiders,
Scrubbing, scouring aloud, disturbing cupboards,
Committing things to dustbins, twisting, wringing,
Wrists red and knuckles white and fingers puckered,
Pulpy, tepid. Steering screaming cleaners
Around the snags of furniture, they straighten
And haul out sheets from under the incontinent
And heavy old, stoop to importunate young,
Tugging, folding, tucking, zipping, buttoning,
Spooning in food, encouraging excretion,
mopping up vomit, stabbing cloth with needles,
Contorting wool  around their knitting needles,
Creating snug and comfy on their needles.

Their huge hands! their everywhere eyes! their voices
Raised to convey across the hullabaloo,
Their massive thighs and breasts dispensing comfort,
Their bloody passages and hairy crannies,
Their wombs that pocket a man upside down!

And when all’s over, off with their overalls,
Quickly consulting clocks, they go upstairs,
Sit and sigh a little, brushing hair,
And somehow find, in mirrors, colours, odours,
Their essence of lilies and roses.

Elma Mitchell. 


  1. jessi says:

    what or who is ruskin?
    i have to analyse this poem for a uni assignment and although we don't need to discuss the title, it's driving me crazy not knowing!
    any ideas or help may save my sanity!

  2. Jordan says:

    ruskin was an artist and writter wh had a blured vision of women he saw then as delecate and beautiful. he married a women who was a lot younger but had the married anoled as he could bear to have sex with her as he was terrifed of what a womens body really looked like (meaning her genitels) as he painted them clothed. he died a virgin.

  3. Melissa says:

    Does anyone know what piece of work this particular poem was hitting out at? I know it was one of Ruskins works but I don't know which one and I really need to find it 🙁

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