A Revolution in Grandmothers

MY GRANDMOTHER, when she was thirty-six,
Put on a white lace cap (the widow’s mark),
Black bombazine, and all the bag of tricks,
Lived behind curtains in the cloistered dark,
And cast all mirth and music from her door.
And so she lived, and died at eighty-four.

Not like a current grandmother I wot of,
A lady on the verge of fifty-three,
Who dances, goes to parties, drinks a lot of
Whatever stuff she drinks; a divorcee
Who is, to put it mildly, in the swim,
And makes her daughters look a trifle dim.

The change in grandmothers is quite fantastic.
Does all this come from voting in elections,
The banishment of whalebone by elastic,
The routing of the globes by conic sections,
The crumbling moral outlook of society,
Or merely a decline in strict sobriety?

One thing’s quite certain: this side of the Bosporus
The trade in white lace caps is less than prosperous.

– Saturday Review of Literature –
November 24, 1956


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