A Dowry for Us, Sarah Dickenson Snyder


Penelope is the zenith, the one/ the songs should herald…

In her poem, A Dowry for Us, Ms. Snyder pays homage to Penelope, one of Greek Mythology’s most revered wise women:

Athena has endowed her above other women with knowledge of splendid handiwork and noble thoughts, and wiles, such as we have never yet heard that any even of the women of old knew….  The Odessy (Harvard, edu)

Ms. Synyder’s title reference to “a dowry” is most interesting, since, a dowry was traditionally considered to be valuables transferred from a woman’s father to her intended husband, a gift offered to increase her attractiveness and assure the value of the alliance.  In the case of Ms. Synder’s poem, however, it is Penelope herself transferring value to we readers in the form of her weaving.

Weaving in Chicken Village Chris Feser via CC

…Penelope’s weaving… has probably received more scholarly attention than anything else about Penelope….Weaving is a metaphor for the making of poetry [and] a peculiarly feminine mode of communication: for Penelope, who does not have access to the male world of public speaking, weaving itself becomes a silent kind of speech….Indeed, Penelope the weaver has been seen… as “a figure of the poet, quietly working behind the scene[s].(Harvard, edu.)

& so, of Penelope and of perhaps herself as well, Ms. Snyder tells us:

…a weaver she was…

a poet, making and unmaking in the face of traditional (though dysfunctional) norms, speaking in a particularly feminine mode, not silently, but boldly holding at bay all energies that do not serve the cause of wisdom and with her words:

…mak[ing] a shroud to vanish them.

Read A Dowry For Us in its entirely here.

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has two poetry collections, The Human Contract and Notes from a Nomad. Recently, poems have appeared in Whale Road Review, Front Porch, Artemis, The Sewanee Review, and RHINO. She was selected to be part of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference both times she applied. In May of 2016, she was a 30/30 Poet for Tupelo Press. One poem was selected by Mass Poetry Festival Migration Contest to be stenciled on the sidewalk in Salem, MA, for the annual festival, April 2017. Another poem was nominated for Best of Net 2017.  Engage more of Ms. Snyder’s work here.


image #1:  Penelope and the Suitors (1912)  John William Waterhouse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
image #2:  Weaving in Chicken Village.  Used by permission of the artist Chris Feser via Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.