By our first strange and fatal interview
By all desires which thereof did ensue,
By our long starving hopes, by that remorse
Which my words' masculine, persuasive force
Begot in thee....
--John Donne, "On His Mistresse"
[I]t is more than likely that the brain itself, is, in origin and development only a sort of great clot of genital fluid.... Species would have developed in accordance with... the relative discharge and retention of the fluid... some animals profiting hardly at all... the baboon retaining nothing.... There are traces of [this concept] in the symbolism of phallic religions, man really the phallus or spermatazoid charging, head-on, the female chaos....
Pound, Translator's Postscript
A popular American poet, dramatist, and feminist associated with the Greenwich Village of the early 1920s and its free-love movement, Edna St. Vincent Millay ( 1892-1950) wrote a Petrarchan sonnet sequence, Fatal Interview, and an anti-Petrarchan sequence, Sonnets from an Ungrafted Tree, that evoke Renaissance literary tradition as the ground for regendering poetic voice and form as female. The epigraphs to this chapter illustrate some of the problems such work involves, even for a twentieth-century poet. Donne's elegy 7, the source of Millay's Petrarchan sequence's title, genders poetic voice as male through its "words' masculine,