“The White Women”

Why do you think these women are described as “white”? To what contemporary forms of myth/romance does such a term allude?

What antecedents for such women would the Victorians have found in classical literature?
Are these women living beings? In what realm do they reside?

What is the stanza form? Are the stanza form and meter appropriate to the subject?

What do we learn about the “white women” at the onset? Is this claim confirmed?

Are the “white women” individualized? What relationship do they have with nature? What is their form of language?

Are they sexual beings? What do you make of their expressions of desire to the wind?

What does it mean to say that “maidens to the maidens” then are born? Are you aware of other tales/utopias in which women reproduce through parthenogenesis? Any alterations in modern genetics research which tend in this direction? (cloning)

What is the effect of the conclusion? Is it threatening? Reassuring?

Are you aware of earlier British poems on a similar theme?

“The Other Side of the Mirror”

What are some suggestions evoked by the image of a mirror? Which of these are pleasant and which frightening?

Can you think of earlier nineteenth century stories or poems which evoke the image of a mirror?

What poetic form is suggested by the stanza and metrical pattern?

What is added to the poem by the fact that the speaker conveys her situation in the first person?

Why does no man any longer desire to discover her secret? What alternate self does she find behind the glass?

To what types of emotions/repressions do you think she may be referring when she speaks of wild despair, jealousies and revenge?

What past event does the speaker recall with horror? Why does she speak to "the shadow of a shade" rather than directly to the repellent image? Why do you think the moment of recognition is presented as occurring in a past hour?

Will the image in the mirror depart as she abjures it to do? What will be her future relationship with her repressed emotions?

Can you think of other nineteenth-century poems which deal with repressed emotions? (e. g., those by her great-great uncle)

Are there psychological theories which might usefully be applied to a reading of this poem? How would you compare/contrast it with "The White Women"?

“The Witch”

How is your interpretation of this poem affected by the title?

Which aspects of the poem may refer to folk legends about the activities and character of witches? (adopt disguises/ unable to enter a dwelling without assistance; cause quenching of fire)

Who is the poem's speaker? Why the shift in the third stanza? Is the transition clear, or is it somewhat unsettling?

Why does the "I" of the poem give the maiden/witch entrance to her house? Is she duped? Unself-aware? What do we surmise about her motives?

What are some advantages of the three-stanza format?

Can you see more than one interpretation to this poem? Is the ending ambiguous, and if so, is this a flaw or a virtue?