The Woman of Progressive Intellect, 1914

By Adam Kirsch Adam Kirsch Read the Q & A
'The Woman of Progressive Intellect (Intellectural),   1914,' by August Sander
"The Woman of Progressive Intellect (Intellectural), 1914," by August Sander
If it were not for her enlightened eyes,
She’d be the witch that intellect denies
Has ever walked the earth: the sunken jaw,
The blunt chin like a claw-toothed hammer’s claw,
The stubbed and crooking finger, and the skin
As stained and crinkly as her crinoline,
Would make a loving grandchild run away.
It takes another kind of love to see
How spirit, in its tactical withdrawal
From aging outworks that are doomed to fall,
Consents to the bewitching of its shell
As long as it can hold the citadel
Where the progressive intellect has spent
A lifetime plotting the enlightenment
The backward and the beautiful dismiss
As mind’s revenge for its unloveliness.

Source: Poetry (April 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

April 2010
 Adam  Kirsch


Adam Kirsch’s The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry (2008) is published by W.W. Norton. His second collection of poems is Invasions (Ivan R. Dee, 2008).

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality

Poetic Terms Sonnet

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.