Why was George Eliot’s Right Hand Larger than Her Left Hand?
Writing About What You Know Best:
A fundamental aspect of writing poetry for the student or beginning writer of poetry is to write about what they know best. A failure to take this advice usually guarantees flawed writing. This is not to suggest that the poetry can’t reach out beyond immediate experience. It is this initial knowledge which accompanies inspiration that is fundamental to the success of the poem.
Writing about what You Know
‘that her right hand was broader than her left hand from
the amount of butter which she had made in her youth’
Oscar Browning writing on George Eliot (1890)
None of her biographers mention it
nor do they seem very interested at all
in the dairy at Griff House
her childhood home
agitating the cream, pounding the curds
making butter and cheese
with an upright plunger
sweated-drenched, stinking work
who knew it well
enough and carried it through long years
until her pen found out Hetty Sorrel
the ill-fated milkmaid in Adam Bede
who ruined her hands with the churning.
©Jeff Guess 2017