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Monday, April 28, 2014

On the Dark Path: An Anthology of Fairy Tale Poetry

On the Dark Path is very descriptive of the poems in this anthology.  Edited by Anita M. Barnard, most of the poems are quite dark and have a modern, psychological take on the tales.  

I found the little volume disappointing because of the lack of balance and the persistent negativity.  Perhaps I would have appreciated some of the darker poems if there had been a better balance.  Had they been mixed in with poems that were beautiful because of the language, that were whimsical, or that were humorous, reading the darker poems would not have become so onerous.  Might even have been more appreciated.

As it was, the poems began to sound affected, pretentious, kind of pompously psychological.  There were maybe 3 or 4 of the 50+ poems, that caught my imagination.

Several good quotes were placed before the first poem.  I really like the following quote.
Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.  -- G.K. Chesterton, as quoted in Coraline by Neil Gaiman.
The poems in the anthology, however, do not, for the most part, carry the same message. 

Here is one of the few poems that I liked:

Snow White's Dream

the light passing through the glass
seemed distorted     slightly skewed
she feigned sleep     eyes pinched
in prayer     flushed lips
relishing the single bite
in her bright box
she wished to be remembered
not for her beauty
nor her sweet manner
but for how she mastered 
her own escape

---Gail Comorant

And another that is dark, but thought provoking:

Hansel and Gretel

When mother read me
Hansel and Gretel I could not believe
even a witch would bake a child.

Even as we read
thousands of children
were tossed into ovens,
small shoes, shirts, 
dresses, pants,
stripped away, piled up
and the last toy 
to which small hands clung for comfort 
pried from reluctant 

---Wilda Morris

Poetry/Fairy Tales.  2013.  85 pages.


  1. I'm drawing a blank right now on the title and author, but I remember reading a collection of short stories years ago that was rather depressing--each story was so sad and lacked any sense of hope. It was a hard book to read. Your description of this collection of poems reminds me of that. I agree, there needs to be a balance.

  2. Brr, the Hansel and Gretel one is bleak. And thought-provoking, I agree.

  3. Wendy - Oh, it would be even harder to read a collection of depressing short stories! At least the poems read faster!

    Jenny - I like this one because, although bleak, it offers a message worth considering. I've thought about this one quite a bit.

  4. Too bad this one didn't work out. I got excited, seeing more fairy tale poetry being mentioned. If too many of the poems are like Hansel and Gretel, yeah, having some contrast might be a good thing.

  5. katenread - Well, maybe I should have taken a hint from the title....
    I just didn't expect quite the darkness of all of the poems without any light at all. :\

  6. Probably not a book that I'd pick up and a shame it was a disappointment for you - like you said yourself, I guess there's a bit of a clue in the title. I do like the two poems that you illustrated. My problem is I don't have the patience to read through 50 to find those good 2 - I'm bad :(
    Lynn :D