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Briar Rose Essay, Research Paper
“Briar Rose” is the classic fairytale of Sleeping Beauty come to life. And what a life it is taken from her family, hidden way from her destine. Only for fate to come and intervene. The story tells of fairies and prophecies. The author Anne Sexton, speaks of an insomniac laying awake at night in “Briar Rose”
a girl who keeps slipping off,
arms limp as old carrots,
into a hypnotist’s trance,
into a spirit world
speaking with the gift of tongues.
she is stuck in the time machine,
suddenly two years sucking her thumb,
inward as a snail,
learning to talk again.
She’s on a voyage.
She swimming further and further back, /
up like a salmon,
struggling into her mother’s pocketbook.
Little doll children,
come to Papa.
Sit on my knee.
I have a kiss for the back of your neck.
A penny for your thoughts, Princess.
I will hunt them like emeralds.
Come be my snookie
and I will give you a root.
That kind of voyage,
rank as honeysuckle.
a king had a christening
for his daughter Briar Rose
and because he had only twelve gold plates
he asked only twelve fairies
to he grand event.
The thirteenth fairy,
her fingers as long and thin as straws,
her eyes burnt by cigarettes,
her uterus an empty teacup,
arrived with an evil gift.
She made the prophecy:
The princess shall prick herself
on a spinning wheel in her fifteenth year
and then fall dead
The court fell silent.
The king looked like Mook’s Scream.
in times like those
However the twelfth fairy
had a certain kind of eraser
and thus mit-I-gated the curse.
changing that death
into a hundred year sleep.
The king ordered every spinning wheel
Briar Rose grew to be a goddess
and each night the king
bit the hem of her gown
to keep her safe.
He fastened the moon up
with a safety pin
to give her a perpetual light.
He force every male in the count
to scour his tongue with Bab – o
lest they poison the air she dwell in.
Thus she dwelt in his odor.
Rank as honeysuckle.
On her fifteenth birthday
she pricked her finger
on a spinning wheel
and the clocks stopped
Yes indeed. She went to sleep
the king and queen went to sleep,
the courtiers, the flies on the wall.
The fire in the hearth grew still
And the roast meat stopped crackling.
The trees turned into metal
and the dogs became china.
They all lay in a trance,
each a catatonic
stuck in a time machine.
Even frogs were zombies.
Only a bunch of briar rose grew
forming a great wall of tacks
around the castle.
tried to get through the brambles
for they had heard much of Briar Rose
but they had not scoured their tongues
so they were held by the thorns
and thus were crucified.
In due time
a hundred years passed
and a prince got through.
The briar parted as if for Moses
and the prince found the tableau intact.
He kissed Briar Rose
and she woke up crying:
Presto! She’s out of prison!
She married the prince
and all went well
except for the fear –
the fear of sleep.
was an insomniac . . .
She could not nap
or lie in sleep
without the court chemist
mixing her some knock out drops
and never in the presence of the prince.
If it is to come, she said,
sleep must take me unawares
while I am laughing or dancing
so that I do not dream,
for when I do I see the table set
and a faltering crone at my place,
her eyes burnt by cigarettes
as she eats betrayal like a slice of meat.
I must not sleep
for while asleep I’m ninety
and think I’m dying.
Death rattles in my throat
like a marble.
I wear tube like earrings.
I lie as still as a bar iron.
You can stick a needle
through my kneecap and I won’t flinch
I’m all shoot up with Novocain.
This trance girl
is yours to do with.
You could lay her in a grave.
And shovel dirt on her face
and she’d never call back: Hello there!
But if you kiss her on the mouth
her eyes would spring open
and she’d call out: Daddy! Daddy!
She’s out of prison.
There was a theft.
That much I am told.
I was abandoned.
That much I know.
I was forced forward
I was forced backward
I was passed from hand to hand
like a bowl of fruit.
Each night I am nailed into place
and forget who I am.
There’s another kind of prison,
It’s not the prince at all,
but the father,
drunkenly bent over my bed,
circling the abyss like a shark,
my father thick upon me
like a sleeping jellyfish
What voyage this, girl?
God help –
this life after death?
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