Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Elsa Gidlow

Elsa Gidlow was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1898. As a teenager, she immigrated to Canada. By 1916, she began to read the works of other les/bi/gay writers such as Sappho, Oscar Wilde, and Edward Carpenter.

She eventually moved to and settled in northern California. Throughout her life, she studied Theosophy, Taoism, Buddhism, and Celtic lore. She also became involved with the Goddess Reverence. During the 70's and 80's, she was involved in the Lesbian-Feminist and Women's Spirituality movements.

Her poetry celebrates her love for women and evoking the Goddess. Some of her work includes "To the Unknown Goddess" (1918), "Love's Acolyte" (1919), "Is She Found?" (1923), "Love in Age" (1974), Ask No Man Pardon: The Philosophical Significance of Being Lesbian (1975), her autobiography, Elsa: I Come with My Songs (1986), and several rituals.

Elsa died in 1986.

I have robbed the garrulous streets,
Thieved a fair girl from their blight,
I have stolen her for a sacrifice
That I shall make to this night.
I have brought her, laughing,
To my quietly dreaming garden.
For what will be done there
I ask no man pardon.
I brush the rouge from her cheeks,
Clean the black kohl from the rims
Of her eyes; loose her hair;
Uncover the glimmering, shy limbs.
I break wild roses, scatter them over her.
The thorns between us sting like love's pain.
Her flesh, bitter and salt to my tongue,
I taste with endless kisses and taste again.
At dawn I leave her
Asleep in my wakening garden.
(For what was done there
I ask no man pardon.)

You're jealous if I kiss this girl and that,
You think I should be constant to one mouth?
Little you know of my too quenchless drought:
My sister, I keep faith with love, not lovers.
Life laid a flaming finger on my heart,
Gave me an electric golden thread,
Pointed to a pile of beads and said:
Link me one more glorious than the rest.
Love's the thread, my sister, you a bead,
An ivory one, you are so delicate.
Those first burned ash-gray--far too passionate.
Further on the colors mount and sing.
When the last bead's painted with the last design
And slipped upon the thread, I'll tie it: so;
Then smiling quietly I'll turn and go
While vain Life boasts her latest ornament.

Many have loved you with lips and fingers
And lain with you till the moon went out;
Many have brought you lover's gifts!
And some have left their dreams on your doorstep.
But I who am youth among your lovers
Come like an acolyte to worship,
My thirsting blood restrained by reverence,
My heart a wordless prayer.
The candles of desire are lighted,
I bow my head, afraid before you,
A mendicant who craves your bounty
Ashamed of what small gifts she brings.

Sappho (600 BC)
Katherine Fowler (1631-1664)
Aphra Behn (1640?-1689)
Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651-1698)
Anna Seward (1747-1809)
Wu Tsao (1800)
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Katherine Bradley (1848-1915) and Edith Cooper (1862-1913)
Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929)
Charlotte Mew (1869-1929)
Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
Renée Vivien (1877-1909)
Angelina Weld Grimké (1880)
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

The Fight for Equality
Famous Les/Bi/Gay People throughout History
Lesbian Poetry
Same-Sex Marriage
Homophobia and Hate Crimes
Links for Parents Trying to Deal with Their Teen's Homosexuality
Links for Teens Trying to Deal with Their Own Homosexuality
Back to first page