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May 22, 2005

 

Tennessee Williams: "Blue Song"


The Glass Menagerie:
People on the Margins of Society

Recently, a previously unknown poem written by Tennessee Williams ("Blue Song") was discovered by chance in a New Orleans bookstore. In 1937, Williams was a troubled young man at Washington University in St. Louis who was about to fail his Greek exam. On the back of his exam booklet, Williams quickly jotted a 17-line poem and then left the room.

At this time, we do not know the entire contents of the poem, but the beginning reads:

"If you should meet me upon a street do not question me for I can tell you only my name and the name of the town I was born in."

It has been suggested that these beginning lines suggest a despairing state of inner emptiness and a barren sense of self. This may have been related to a gnawing sense of confusion regarding his sexual identity, or to his desperate attempts not to acknowledge it at that time.

Deeply unhappy and depressed living in St. Louis, he moved to New Orleans two years later, in 1939. After moving to New Orleans, Williams went on to write plays that included: The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke, A Rose Tattoo, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Camino Real.

The undertone of his writings was always the examination of the passions and forces that drive people who live at the very margins of society.

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