Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hannah's Banner

Being a feminist, I'm rejoicingly conscious of the improvements in the lives of women, at least in our culture. When asked 'Which is your favourite era of history?' I always reply 'Now.' This poem recalls that time in World War Two when women proved themselves capable of more than housework, only to be shoved back into their box once more when the war ended. I dress up as a munitions worker to perform this one.

HANNAH'S BANNER

My name's Hannah, and I'm handy with a spanner.
I can saw and plane and rivet with the best of them.
I can dig some dandy ditches,
And I get dirt on my breeches,
And I work, from dawn to dusk, just like the rest of them.
But when the world is free
They'll say 'Hannah! Make the tea!'

My name's Hannah. I've a firm and forthright manner,
And, every day, my attitude is toughening.
I may not be a man,
But I'm not an also-ran,
And it makes me proud to see my hands are roughening.
But when they end the war
They'll say 'Hannah! Mop the floor!'

My names Hannah and I wear a bright bandana.
See! My curls are tucked in neatly and proficiently.
Yes, even though it hurts,
I've abandoned frilly skirts,
And these trousers keep me safe at work, efficiently.
But, when victory flags unfurl,
They'll say 'Hannah! Be a girl!'

My name's Hannah. I'm a thinker and a planner,
And what's inside my head, you wouldn't dream about.
I could be a big tycoon!
I could blast-off to the moon!
These are the things I lie in bed and scheme about.
But, when planes fly back to base,
They'll say 'Hannah! Know your place!'

My names Hannah and I'd sing a loud Hosannah
If the powers that be could recognise equality.
If they'd take note of my brains,
And my skill at building planes,
And not treat me as some silly, sweet, frivolity!
But, when the guns fall mute,
They’ll say 'Hannah, you're just cute.'

My names Hannah and, one day, I'll be a Nanna,
And I'm happy that there's motherhood in store for me.
But I know that, even then,
I'll be an underling to men,
And they'll throw me crumbs,
Like opening the door for me.
Yes, isn't it a farce!
They'll put me out to grass!
All this will come to pass
Under ceilings made of glass.

7 comments:

Kat said...

You've brought out so well Brenda -womenfolks plight.

Your poem reminded me so much of a poet from our land - BARATHI... He was born in 1882 and died in 1921.

He had even in those years, taken up the emancipation of women..!! - by poems in tamil.

Wikipedia says...

"...His poetry expressed a progressive, reformist ideal. His powerful imagery and the vigour of his verse has come to symbolise Tamil culture in many respects. Bharathiyaar famously espoused greater freedom and respect for women:

We will destroy the idiocy
of denigrating womanhood

In the poem, Bharati expresses his frustrations at some of the deploring superstitions of his fellow men which are responsible for their remaining as slaves despite all their resources and glorious past..."

Sometimes I keep asking myself - why this is happening, for Hannah and such. Why is this world man ruled? God has to answer?

quilly said...

My mother was "Rosie the Riveter". She worked at Farragut welding submarines and was a shift supervisor. After the war she washed dishes in a nursing home.

Savannah said...

This is the plight of all women in all cultures.

I have a niece name Hannah and I think she is going to blow this world away with her gifts. She's seven years old, and have an old mind filled with wisdom.

You are a gifted poet!

Brian Miller said...

nice. i remember the pics of rosie..and what she stood for...nice one.

Alan Burnett said...

That is a really clever poem. Good words and good sentiments.

Wings said...

Great take on an important bit of history!

Gladys said...

Rosie and Hannah changed our lives forever