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Grimm’s Dear Mili Tale: A Feminist Perspective

Karl Constantine FOLKES 1935 (Portland)

I called her hero.
A fairytale little girl.
And not heroine.
In a Wilhelm Grimm’s story.
A dissertation problem.

“What makes her hero?”
Question posed at my defense.
“Child in dark forest
What arguments can you make.
To satisfy our questions?”

I was quite surprised.
Not expecting this question.
But answered firmly.
More ready than I had thought.
The answers came from within.

To think of it now.
With the passages of time.
I sometimes wonder.
How did I summon courage.
To face my jury scholars?

Those were seasoned men.
With not a woman present.
Wizened by their years.
Yet ignorant of Wisdom.
Lofty men in their smugness.

And, facing them all.
Words poured forth — like a hero.
Wounded by attack.
Yet strengthened by conviction.
To muster staunch defense.

“Your talk of heroes.
Concerns those who slay dragons.
Armored shining knights.
Like those medieval knights.
Who rescue forlorn damsels.”

“Courtly gentlemen.
Like Knights of the Round Table.
Men as Knights Errant.
Chivalrous toward women.
In readiness to rescue.”

“Men as Prince Charming.
Protectors of all women.
Men as Knights Templar.
All of some noble ranking.
In the form of King Arthur.”

“My hero is quite different.
With a desire.
More subtle to imagine.
Beyond what is commonplace.
What is more hidden than seen.”

“My hero — Mili.
Picks up a tiny rosebud.
Its thorns are quite sharp.
And, showing loving kindness.
Nurtures it with her own tears.”

“Tale of Dear Mili.
A tale of death and rebirth.
Has archetypal meaning.
How like a rosebud nurtured.
We, too, can all be heroes.”

“That is my thesis.
To show a different viewpoint.
One much more subtle.
A hero needs no bragging.
Attends to nature’s bidding.”

“My child heroine.
Slays other kinds of dragons.
Those with distempers.
To bring illumination.
With moral code of ethics.”

My analysis.
Registered new sentiments.
About a hero.
Heroine not withstanding.
Inviting paradigm shift.

My inquisitors.
All argued with much passion.
During my defense.
A final vote was then reached.
With me declared as victor.

My research model.
A von Franzian framework.
Concerned the challenge.
Of Individuation
And how a rosebud blossomed.

Grimm’s Dear Mili tale.
Invites us to consider.
What life is about.
How all of us — as subjects.
Are challenged to be heroes.

About this poem

In 1991, I completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature at New York University entitled “An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s Dear Mili Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes” and concerning the manifestation of Jungian Individuation in fairytale literature. Marie-Louise von Franz was a Swiss Jungian psychologist and scholar known for her psychological interpretations of fairytales and of metaphysical alchemical processes that occur in the human psyche. At the defense of my dissertation, I was lengthily questioned and even challenged concerning my depiction of the little girl, the child protagonist of the Dear Mili tale, as being a heroine and, even more so, to have had the audacity to depict her as a hero. This poem, “Grimm’s Dear Mili Tale: A Feminist Perspective,” provides me with some valuable therapeutic self-counseling, and the opportunity to share with a larger audience of thinking minds, how the human soul, and particularly the feminine human soul, at times entrapped in a masculine dynamic of suppression and repression, may at times undergo physical or psychological onslaught but, through counseling and self-reappraisal, can find healing and be uplifted to live the life and journey of a hero or an heroine. The human psyche, by nature, desires the liberation of all, the masculine and the feminine. 

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Written on April 14, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on April 14, 2022

Modified by karlcfolkes on February 16, 2023

2:26 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 2,348
Words 487
Stanzas 18
Stanza Lengths 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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