Interviewer: How old were you when you became a mother?
Marie Howe (poet): A hundred. Like those ladies in the Bible. I was a hundred years old. I was Sarah. I was Abraham’s Sarah. I was just telling my students this story, because there’s this gorgeous poem by D. H. Lawrence, “Song of a Man Who Has Come Through.” He says, essentially: Not me, not me, but the wind that blows through me. Bring it on. Bring it on. I will be a good well-head. I will blur no whisper, spoil no expression. I will be firm like a chisel. I’ll do it, I’ll do it.
And then all of a sudden, “What is the knocking?” he writes. “What is the knocking at the door in the night? It is somebody wants to do us harm.” In other words, the things you ask for begin to happen in the poem. They are the same angels that come to Abraham and Sarah, and say, “The unthinkable’s gonna happen. The impossible’s gonna happen.”
Song of a Man Who Has Come Through (D. H. Lawrence)
Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.
Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.
What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It is somebody wants to do us harm.
No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them