poem index

About this poet

Poet and critic Sandra M. Gilbert was born on December 27, 1936, in New York City. She was educated at Cornell University, New York University, and Columbia University, where she received her PhD in 1968.

Among Gilbert's most widely known works are her collaborations with Susan Gubar, particularly The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (1979), regarded as a seminal work of feminist criticism. In 1995, she published Wrongful Death: A Medical Tragedy, a prose memoir indicting medical malpractice and eulogizing her husband, who had died four years earlier after routine surgery for prostate cancer. Ghost Volcano, a book of poetry in memory of her late husband, appeared the same year.

Gilbert's other collections of poetry include Aftermath: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2011); Belongings (2006); The Italian Collection (Depot Books, 2003); Inventions of Farewell: A Book of Elegies (W. W. Norton, 2001), Kissing the Bread: New and Selected Poems (2000), Blood Pressure (1988), The Summer Kitchen (1983), and In the Fourth World (1978).

She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she has served as President of the Modern Language Association and earned an honorary degree from Wesleyan University. Gilbert has taught at numerous colleges and universities across the country and currently holds a position as a professor of English at the University of California, Davis. She lives in Berkeley.

Moving Out

Sandra M. Gilbert, 1936
Darling, I'm pushing the house
into the garden, into the black arms,
the green embrace
of the oaks. Yesterday,

two giants lugged the grand piano,
its synapses still crackling with your tunes,
up the steep steps, the narrow path
to the gate. Now it muses

in the what is this of a warehouse,
and the silence
where it used to stand
has forgotten your forte.

Out in back of the back,
workers dig in unsteady rock,
but now the house is moving
faster than they can hew and hack:

the house has started to unpack:
its walls possess new places,
doors flap open,
windows heave from hinges—

and now the sofas fly
into a maze of ivy,
the hallways gaping
under a hollow of sky!

Only the piano keys,
hidden under their ebony hood,
remember your touch,
and wait, and are still,

and brood.

From Aftermath, published by W.W. Norton. Copyright © 2011 by Sandra M. Gilbert. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Sandra M. Gilbert

Sandra M. Gilbert

The author of several collections of poetry, Sandra Gilbert is also the co-author of The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination, which is viewed as a seminal work of feminist criticism