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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Poetry Friday--Happy Birthday, Amelia Bloomer!

Women in bloomers. Photo courtesy San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.

The costume of women should be suited to her wants and necessities. It should conduce at once to her health, comfort, and usefulness; and, while it should not fail also to conduce to her personal adornment, it should make that end of secondary importance.
~ Amelia Jenks Bloomer

On this day in 1818, Amelia Jenks Bloomer was born in Homer, New York. She, of course, went on to lend her name to a style of women's pants known as bloomers, but she was also an advocate of women's rights, and a writer and editor.

In honor of Amelia Bloomer's birthday, here's a poem by Lisel Mueller
The Laughter Of Women

The laughter of women sets fire
to the Halls of Injustice
and the false evidence burns
to a beautiful white lightness

It rattles the Chambers of Congress
and forces the windows wide open
so the fatuous speeches can fly out

The laughter of women wipes the mist
from the spectacles of the old;
it infects them with a happy flu
and they laugh as if they were young again

Prisoners held in underground cells
imagine that they see daylight
when they remember the laughter of women

It runs across water that divides,
and reconciles two unfriendly shores
like flares that signal the news to each other

What a language it is, the laughter of women,
high-flying and subversive.
Long before law and scripture
we heard the laughter, we understood freedom.

Found in Alive Together: New and Selected Poems [811.54 MUE]

Before you leave town for the Memorial Day weekend, be sure to stop by The Drift Record where Julie is hosting this week's round-up of poetry.


  1. The laughter of women is creation itself. :-) Great post about Ms. Bloomers.

  2. Don't you love that poem? I do!