I keep a small book of selected poems of Rilke on my shelf. There are 2 poems that I’ve marked as placeholders for me when I want to reread those poems for inspiration.
One of those poems is “A Woman’s Fate.”
For me, it is a reminder to women that we too often allow ourselves to be trophies and placed on a shelf, remaining in the background of a man’s life. I still remember the words my uncle (now deceased) said to me when I told him that I was going to college. “Oh, are you working on your M.R.S. Degree?”
I did not really understand what he meant at first, but later it occurred to me that he believed women went to college only to find a husband. Those words stay with me and are examples of the biased thinking of some men, some generations of men. I’ve continued to fight against those biases, but it is a tiring struggle. It would be easy to give up, sit in the background and just look pretty, but I’m getting old and beauty fades.
The poem reminds me, rather warns me against becoming a trophy placed in a case and simply forgotten.