Not Over It

By Heather McHugh b. 1948 Heather McHugh

In sympathy with Gaspara Stampa

By woman so touched, so pressed,
detachment being thought
achievable at all
is boggling in itself. Its being
thought achievable by love—but love
for only all (not someone’s single) sentience—
appears the precept of too cold
a form of flame. How much
of a hand in things
relinquishes the hold
of things-at-hand?
What kiss might such
a mind reclaim? A swirl of dust
in Buddhist schools, perhaps.
A view of several solar
systems from above.
Not love.
The thought
appeals as it appals:
Slow learners, we must spurn
the selving sensualities, to feel
for feelers of this kind,
unfasten passion’s burner
to identify what’s under it—
in short, must court
dispassion just
to be compassionate.

Heather McHugh, “Not Over It” from Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries, published by the Folger Shakespeare Library. Copyright © 2012 by Heather McHugh. Reprinted by permission of Heather McHugh.

Source: Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers Bridge Five Centuries (Folger Shakespeare Library, 2012)

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Poet Heather McHugh b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Love, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality

Poetic Terms Tercet

 Heather  McHugh


Poet Heather McHugh’s work is noted for its rhetorical gestures, sharp puns and interest in the materials of language itself—her self-described determination is “to follow every surge of language, every scrap and flotsam.” Describing her work in the Boston Review, poet and critic Richard Howard alleged that “most of McHugh’s poems end in a spurt, as they proceed in a slather, of just such astonishment as is bestowed—afforded—by . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Tercet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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