La Belle a la Bête
with apologies to Gertrude Stein
… lui dit: «La Belle, voulez-vous être ma femme?»
Elle fut quelque tems sans répondre:
elle avait peur d’exciter la colère du monstre, en le refusant …
—La Belle et la Bête, Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont
I asked for a rose, and your love was the price.
That I did not know this is meaningless now.
I will live out my days in your strange paradise,
Where my rose has become an unbreakable vow.
I will not deny that you love me. You do.
With a love like the sea, you have swallowed me whole.
You have given me dresses and books, it is true,
And all you have asked for in trade is my soul.
I will keep to your gardens and dine in your hall.
I will talk with you nightly and name you my friend.
I will smile when you greet me and come when you call.
I will be happy. I will pretend.
But beg me to love you and I must reply
That a rose is a rose is a rose is a lie.
Brittany Hause is a linguist with a lifelong love of fantasy and science fiction. When not researching the effects of language contact, she can usually be found reading and writing SFF stories and poems. Her speculative poetry has most recently appeared in Grievous Angel and Star*Line and is forthcoming in Scifaikuest and Blossomry.
Editor’s Notes: According to the author, this is part of a series of series of anapestic sonnets written from the point of view of female characters encountered in fairy tales that have been told and retold across languages and centuries.
La Belle et la Bête is the original French fairytale known in English as Beauty and the Beast. The image is a conflation of a grunge broken heart and a long stem rose (from “kisspng” and “yo priceville gallery”)