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Maiden Name

May 17, 2011

I’ve moved the blog over here to WordPress for good. I did not come without baggage, though, as I brought all the previous posts and comments.

Leaving the Blogger version feels odd, maybe a little bit like leaving a “maiden name,” which I did, when I had just turned 21.  This is Philip Larkin’s poem about that:

Marrying left your maiden name disused.

Its five light sounds no longer mean your face,

Your voice, and all your variants of grace;

For since you were so thankfully confused

By law with someone else, you cannot be

Semantically the same as that young beauty:

It was of her that these two words were used.


Now it’s a phrase applicable to no one,

Lying just where you left it, scattered through

Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two,

Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon—

Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly

Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.

No, it means you. Or, since you’re past and gone,


It means what we feel now about you then:

How beautiful you were, and near, and young,

So, vivid, you might still be there among

Those first few days, unfingermarked again.

So your old name shelters our faithfulness,

Instead of losing shape and meaning less

With your depreciating luggage laden.

Maybe this new version of the blog will be, at least metaphorically, less laden with depreciating luggage.

Although my favorite line in the poem is “no, it means you” the speaker–as usual in a Larkin poem–won’t let it rest there; we have to go on to “it means what we feel now about you then.”

(Note: please bear with me as I try to iron out a few remaining technical difficulties. I had to put some dots between stanzas until I figure out how to make this text editor do what I believe I’m telling it to.)

35 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2011 9:25 am

    Thanks for sharing the poem and I hope that you enjoy wordpress as much as I do. I know Anna can give you tips if you need them. I’m self-hosted now, so its a bit different for me, though I’m sure many of the tips I could give would be the same.

  2. teensrc permalink
    May 17, 2011 10:46 am

    What does one say to another upon a move to a new blog home? It’s kind of like moving house, except with less banged shins and squished fingers. Happy blogwarming, perhaps? At any rate, looks good so far. I’ve updated my feed. Good luck with the technical quibbles!

    • teensrc permalink
      May 17, 2011 10:48 am

      Er, and when I’m commenting here, I’ll have to remember to use my personal wp account, not my work-related account 😉 It’s kiirstin from a book a week.

      • May 19, 2011 8:53 am

        The banged shins are metaphorical, but I’ve gotten good advice on how to type in a poem!

  3. May 17, 2011 10:47 am

    Welcome! and, I know some people have issues with formatting nuttiness, but I apparently don’t try to do much or care about it too much. sometimes, though when I want more space between lines, I just type gobbledygook and then change the color to white.

  4. May 17, 2011 11:44 am

    Congratulations on the move! I hope you like it here!

    PS. I put dots in my post and turn them white – there is a more technical way to do it, but it is far harder and so I stick with the simple solution.

    • May 19, 2011 8:54 am

      Jackie, I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist, but I’ve been reminded lately that this is only in comparison to the rest of my family! Thanks for the simple solution!

  5. May 17, 2011 11:59 am

    I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile. You’re brave.

    • May 19, 2011 8:55 am

      I’ve been thinking about it pretty hard since December. I got several different people telling me how they made the move, and I’ll be happy to share any of that with you if you decide you want it.

  6. May 17, 2011 12:54 pm

    I feel like I should leave a housewarming present. A virtual bottle of wine, perhaps? Thanks for the poem. I didn’t know that one and I like it a lot. I wrestled heavily with the decision to change my name and this rang true.

    • May 19, 2011 8:57 am

      Mmm, virtual wine. I did not wrestle with the decision to change my name; I had just turned 21 a month before I married, so had no professional associations with the previous name, and I liked the alliteration of the J and the G.

  7. May 17, 2011 1:17 pm

    I switched from blogger to wordpress a couple years ago and have no regrets! I don’t know about the dot formatting thing (I’ll have to experiment with that!) but I’ve found that if I want to include a poem formatted the way it should be, I type it out in Word then cut and paste and insert it in the blog draft.

    I’ll be sure to change feeds now in my google reader.

    • May 19, 2011 8:59 am

      Valerie, I’m glad to hear you have no regrets, because I still have some apprehension about whether I can do this. I inserted the poem from Word, but obviously I didn’t do it quite right. I have more advice on how to do it, though.

  8. Elizabeth permalink
    May 17, 2011 1:34 pm

    Updated my blog too. Also re last names, I have zero attachment to them. I was a Lockett for 14 years, then a Dzur for four years (dad adopted my brother and me), then married and became a Shear and now I’m a Johnson. The only name I REALLY care about is Elizabeth 🙂

    • May 19, 2011 9:00 am

      I still associate the Dzur name with you, which is funny since you only went by that for the four years I knew you IRL.

  9. freshhell permalink
    May 17, 2011 3:32 pm

    I was happy to get rid of my maiden name but kept it as a middle so that people from the past would recognize me and, of course, when I become famous I want all those mean kids from elementary school to see me being famous with my big famous book in their faces! Because I am mature now.

    • May 19, 2011 9:02 am

      Hee. I use my maiden name as a middle name, too, since Jeanne is actually my middle name (my mother goes by my first name). It all gets too confusing. My favorite reaction to the confusion was that of a college friend who asked me what my middle name was, and when I said “Jeanne” got big eyes and said “YOUR PARENTS NAMED YOU JEANNIE JEANNE”?

      • May 21, 2011 6:52 am

        I had a friend in high school named Shirley Shirley. I like ‘Jeannie Jeanne’, very pretty.
        I dropped my given middle name Gail and moved the maiden name to that slot. I like Hs.

  10. May 17, 2011 4:58 pm

    Just a formatting suggestion. Try to put the poetry in the Blockquote format and see how that works. It may single-space/kern it so that it looks distinct from the body text of the post. OTOH, this green is the same color as our front hall!

    • May 19, 2011 9:04 am

      Hugh, I will try that, along with some suggestions I begged from Harriet.
      I like your front hall. I am very fond of green.

  11. May 17, 2011 10:02 pm

    A belated welcome to wordpress! I’ve switched my feed over. 🙂

    • May 19, 2011 9:05 am

      Thanks! I’m glad to know people who used to read the old blog are finding this one.

  12. May 17, 2011 11:54 pm

    Also, editing your posts in HTML mode instead of Visual Mode will allow you to single space lines, so that the lines of the poetry won’t be double spaced.

    • May 19, 2011 9:05 am

      That would be a good thing. The irony is that I’d hoped switching to WP would allow me to have to look at HTML less.

      • May 19, 2011 9:27 am

        Jeanne, you still do have to look at html less. You don’t actually have to type in all those breaks manually. For some reason, in html view, the default meaning for a paragraph return is , whereas in visual view it’s . All you have to do to get in html is type two paragraph returns. No coding necessary.

        • May 19, 2011 10:16 am

          Thank you both; I typed the next poem in html mode and it was much easier! (Ironically, the poet separated some stanzas with a symbol, the *)

  13. bookgazing permalink
    May 20, 2011 6:03 am

    Just wanted to come over and say ‘Hey look at your shiny new wordpress blog’. I like the theme and the header, very pretty indeed.

    • May 20, 2011 7:36 am

      Glad you like the “new prettyness.” I kind of like the picture, taken looking up from underneath the lily pads; thought it went with the title. It was taken at a famous garden near here, the Schnormeier garden.

  14. May 20, 2011 8:33 pm

    I’m glad you made the move. I personally think that WordPress is the better platform. And I really enjoyed the poem. I often think of my “maiden name,’ now lost in the past. It makes me wonder if I will ever reclaim it as I did once before.

    • May 22, 2011 10:20 am

      A lot of women do “reclaim” the maiden name as a middle name these days. I think whether you shed it or regret it has a lot to do with how young you were when you got married. I still remember the person in Rhode Island, who asked me–just turned 21 and a newlywed–what my last name was. I told him, and he said “oh, you’re Scottish, then?” Uh, no, even if you do think that’s a Scottish last name!

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