The Ballad of the Bird Bride, by Rosamund Marriot Watson really resonated with me. I generally don’t like poetry at all and so these three poems, not just the one I mentioned, were fascinating and kept me riveted.
I took this poem to be written from the perspective of the bird bride’s husband which is interesting considering that we haven’t really read anything written from a male perspective; however, through his narrative it’s obvious that his perception of their marriage was not how she saw it. Their union is based in him stealing her away from her comrades. He “sprang from [his] hiding place and held the fairest fast…and bore her safe to [his] warm snow house,” but is she really safe? Personally, I would not be happy if someone jumped out from a bush, took me from my friends, and made me his wife. His bride “beat her long white arms anew, and her eyes glanced quick and wild” whenever the shrill winds blew. This made me feel as though she was restless. Like her place wasn’t meant to be housewife, but to be in the wild winds and free. Even though he claims that her wandering glances rested when she had a baby, I don’t entirely believe it. He broke the one promise that she asked of him, which was to not kill one of her brethren, and she left, taking the children with her never to return. A woman that was fully happy would not leave in that way. Even though she is gone, never to return, he claims “ye are mine forever and aye, mine, wherever your wild wings go” which hints at his possessiveness of her.
All that considered, I got the feeling that this could be about divorce. I looked into the history of Rosamund Watson, who was a Victorian poet that got married and divorced and lost her children in both cases. This led me to believe that the bird bride was what she wished herself to be. Not in the sense of being possessed, but that in leaving she got to keep custody of her children. She was strong enough to leave her two unhappy marriages but because of the lack of rights of women during the time period she lost her children. On a side note, it’s also interesting that she wrote these under the pseudonym Graham R. Thomson. Perhaps that’s why they were written from the male perspective.