“Mary Quite Contrary” by William Apess (BUTTON POETRY TRANSCRIPT)

My lady and sister in Christ, Mary,

We have a common enemy

It is a devil that lives in a bottle

It is no daemon or fairy

Lurks in every pantry

And turns the gentlest soul hostile

It is the color of my skin

And smells of exotic spices

The kind sold among the newly conquered dark isles

But it was your kin

Who turned this into one of our greatest vices

I dare not speak its name

For when I do there are folk who flitter

And pester even if told their efforts are in vain

By even he who has only little

It’s name is a hum

The devil’s hymn and chorus

When the cork is unplugged

There is a crowd that cheers,

“Oh please why don’t you join us!”

It’s name (he whispers softly)

Is rum

Mary, quite contrary

Does your story go

You paint a portrait of savage men

Who’d look for any excuse to strike a killing blow

And steal the brides of the white for the chief’s harem

Whilst they smoke pipes of tobacco

But oh, dear Mary did you also not partake?

Or is the truth only relevant when it is easy to forsake?

Mary, quite contrary

Is the white man’s practice of exclusion

Though why complain to you?

Because it is clear that you don’t think it matters

If a black or Indian

man or woman

Adult or child

Or a follower of the son of the Virgin Mary

Will be pardoned from this exile

Or spends their lives dressed in rags and tatters

By Maria Nguyen Cruz

2 thoughts on ““Mary Quite Contrary” by William Apess (BUTTON POETRY TRANSCRIPT)

  1. I read this as not holding back, but in your usual Maria greatness, I love that about the writing you do. Maybe that’s also contributed by my bias for my friend, but regardless, I truthfully thought the poem format was a sweet way to integrate such a difficult topic.


  2. Maria,

    Your post is fantastic. I think it is a literature of power example because of how effectively conveys that William Apess and Mary Rowlandson have some similarities that others might not consider. The poem conveys a lot of depth that perhaps a regular post would not be able to do so. It is very moving so thank you for your post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s