Selma’s Cry for an Answer

The last time we heard Falk’s poem to Selma.  Brack praises him; Selma says she is flattered and thanks him.  But conversation now centres on women, their nature and place.  First, Brack suggests marriage, not music, should be her aim so that, once married, she can indulge in affairs.  Rebecca counters him, asserting that marriage is a convention only and that a woman must use her powers to control her man.  And now the conversation ranges over the nature of woman and man, culminating in the Ibsen’s own conclusions:

OLDER SUZANNAH
Men are the insects of humanity:
Hard shells, soft innards, muscle over mush.

OLDER IBSEN
Not all men are so constructed, Suzannah,
Nor are all women, slight or not, built with
Steel frames and beaked inner, case-hard, systems.
It’s not our structures that are at fault
But what we do with them.

OLDER SUZANNAH
True, my Ibsen,
Intentions shift in practice, longings brush
Against attitudes, cold separation,
And memories acid with regret.
[Silence.  All are quiet, withdrawn.]

And Selma cries out:

Is this all there is? At twenty must I
Look forward to nothing but trash-littered
Journeys?  Where does my precious music
Fit with this?  How can I reconcile the
Marriage of body to body, the marriage
Of finger to key?

We’ll look at the response to her plea next time.

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