A Pause for Pure Self-Pity

While rereading my 1974 journal, I found a brief and very girly expression of Pure Self-Pity. At first I was embarrassed by the four-line poem and even more by the sentiment it expressed. But then I thought, hey, self-pity may be the human equivalent of crawling into a hiding place and licking your wounds after a spectacularly unsuccessful hunt. A natural thing, in other words. Even a good thing.

Why in 1974, however, I chose to express my wounded creature-ness through the voice of a Victorian housemaid, I don’t know. Any more than I know why I still love to write, when it’s clear that writing has created more problems for me than it has solved—and it doesn’t save the world either.

Maybe people read and write because they’re lonely for companions. If so, I offer the following tiny poem to accompany you in your own oh-gawd-I’m-so-inept-I’m-gonna-starve, I-should-go-away-and-die-already moments.


The Housemaid’s Lament

Little gimcracks are what I’m worth,
Nothing big or sweeping.
Little needles, little pins,
Little bits of weeping.





Published by

Harriet Ann Ellenberger

writer, editor, translator; co-founded the journal "Sinister Wisdom"

9 thoughts on “A Pause for Pure Self-Pity”

    1. Thanks, Susanna, me too — I tend to think my four-footed neighbours are smarter than I am, but they regularly make big mistakes back there in the woods, especially when they’re young. I like the way they retreat until they’re ready to try again.


      1. I don’t think U got my point at all. Self-Pity isn’t becoming, so okay… don’t feel sorry for yourself, but whatever… what I’m saying is, writing is saving the world, ‘cuz a reader discovering your voice now is vital in light of Trump world.
        You passed the baton, you kept running… until you passed it…
        You matter. Writing matters. I’m not bothering here unless it matters to me…
        You are progress. You help make progress. Not just in your time… not just in looking back…
        What worked then still works…
        What woke then is woke.

        Your heart is real. NOT at all pitiful.

        I am sorry if I am not making any sense. I’m not a great writer! 🙂

        My question was perhaps rhetorical. I felt writing was saving the world when I encountered you.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. You saying that is wonderful. I truly love your voice and needed to discover your writing on my path… I consider you a navigator. You have sign posts we all need no matter what stage we are at.
            Plus, I love that you are a long read. I miss long reads, and am not into short attention spans. Your work takes time to read for a reason. For many many good reasons.

            Liked by 1 person

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