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Date(s) - 11/29/2018 - 12/05/2018
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November

          by Phyllis McGinley

Away with vanity of Man.

Now comes to visit here

the maiden aunt, the Puritan,

the spinster of the year.

She likes a world that’s furnished plain,

a sky that’s clean and bare,

and garments eminently sane

for her consistent wear.

Let others deck them as they please

in frill and furbelow.

She scorns alike the fripperies

of flowers and of snow.

Her very speech is shrewd and slight,

with innuendoes done;

and all of her is hard, thin light

or shadow sharp as sun.

Indifferent to the drifting leaf,

and innocent of guile,

she scarcely knows there dwells a brief

enchantment in her smile.

So love her with a sparing love.

That is her private fashion,

who fears the August ardor of

a demonstrated passion.

Yet love her somewhat. It is meet,

and for our own defense,

after October to find sweet

her chilly common sense.

American poet Phyllis McGinley (1905 – 1978) was known for her light verse and, in particular, her affectionate portrayals of life in the suburbs, where she moved after her marriage in 1937. During a time when many women were entering the workforce and the second-wave feminist movement was gathering steam, McGinley’s poetry and essays championed the virtues of being a housewife. Her popular collection of essays, Sixpence in Her Shoe (1964), was a response to Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique (1963). The period brought McGinley much notoriety, including an appearance on the cover of Time in 1965. Though McGinley herself was socially progressive and a Democrat, her “point, an eternally divisive one, was clear,” noted Ginia Bellafante in an essay on McGinley in the New York Times: “a woman who enjoyed herself as a wife and mother should not submit to imposed ambitions.” She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for Times Three: Selected Verse from Three Decades. W.H. Auden, in his introduction to the volume, praised McGinley’s humor and seemingly effortless control of rhyme.