X is for Xanthippe


the rooms are empty

except for the memories

of times squandered,

a father she hungered for affection from

a mother absent in all but the physical

laid the foundation

upon which her future was built,

no touch was allowed past the barriers,

a steely glare

and sharp words

formed high walls

and sculpted loved ones

in to acceptable moulds

until they poured free

and flowed in other directions,

stuck on a verge

she remained,

protecting herself

with violent tongue

amidst fiery eyed silences,

tis there that she reigns supreme

in the sepia tones of the sollitary


xanthippe = ill-tempered woman

Xanthippe (pronounced /zænˈθɪpi/; Greek: Ξανθίππη) was the wife of Socrates.

Frank Wedekind (1864-1918) wrote Xanthippe – I was unable to find a video of it, but for those of you musically inclined…

William Shakespeare mentioned Xanthippe in his play The Taming of the Shrew, Act 1 Scene 2:

Signior Hortensio, ‘twixt such friends as we

Few words suffice; and therefore, if thou know

One rich enough to be Petruchio’s wife,

As wealth is burden of my wooing dance,

Be she as foul as was Florentius’ love,

As old as Sibyl, and as curst and shrewd

As Socrates’ Xanthippe or a worse,

She moves me not, or not removes, at least,

Affection’s edge in me, were she as rough

As are the swelling Adriatic seas:

I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;

If wealthily, then happily in Padua.

My favourite The Taming of the Shrew is the BBC One version starring Shirley Henderson and Rufus Sewell.

This post is part of ABC Wednesday.

For more interpretations of the letter X visit here.


          1. pretty much the same…except I think you’re less likely to find a real white beard on a mall Santa:) My mom came and I cooked so much I’m now part zombie. Exhausted. But happy. Have I told you I love your snowflakes here on your blog? I do! I know you miss your babies…thinking of you, Jo. Cant wait to talk new years resolutions/intentions with you later this week!:)


    1. Thanks Harry – it goes to the same sites I linked to – there doesn’t appear to be a recording of Xanthippe on the web – just some from his other writings.


  1. Okay. Now I totally worship you! You taught me a new word and your photography is brilliant. I am so glad that we’ve connected across the divide. Thank you for making my day! –Russell


    1. Socrates is said to have been quoted saying that he chose her precisely because of her argumentative spirit, if this be the case I don’t have too much sympathy for him.


  2. P.S. I embrace your animal campaigns – certainly will be part of 2012 and beyond! xxxxxxxxx Thanks for having the courage to print the links – I just cry when I see such abhorent practices…Dxxx


  3. That is quite a poem and it certainly resonates with me. Jo, being only a little capable with a computer, I found I had about 9,000 emails on my g mail. My son insisted I delete them. I came across one from you about looking for a picture of a little horse, from about 6 months ago. You were asking me to send you a copy because you had lost yours. I don’t remember if I ever replied or even if I saw your email, which is not surprising!! Any way if it is still an issue please email me again. My sons and our computer man are about to sort out what they thought was a mess with my email. I was quite happy with it, but it’s a generational thing and I will probably let them do whatever they must at the weekend. In the mean time if you remember anything about this please do e mail.
    Such a unique post. Some poetry on some blogs is blah but this is thought provoking.


  4. A lovely, insightful poem. I had always thought of Xanthippe as a shrew, but now, after reading your poem, I understand her loneliness.The painting is beautiful too.


  5. behind every great man, is a great woman. May be at home, she is a great person. I had to google to find out who she is. I remember the movie starring Elizabeth taylor.

    Did you come up for the Big Coca cola Christmas in the park? Quite something isn’t it? The one I am involved is in Mt Albert, a much smaller scale.


  6. Great write, Jo … bittersweet and poignant … sadly, I know too many who can relate to this — pulls up much emotion. Plus you taught me a new word … I am not sure I can even pronounce 🙂

    Happy New Year ~~


  7. Hi Jo! It’s so sad that if a child cannot find comfort with its parents, it is bound to become a cold, cruel adult itself. Great post, Jo and great video too. Thank you for sharing.


  8. Hello Jo.
    This poem was sad & an all too painful reality for some.
    You expressed it beautifully.
    Smiling…nice info on Xanthippe. I’ll have to keep that one in my library for whenever we get to letter “X” again! (lol)
    Thanks for sharing & visiting. I appreciate your comment.

    Best wishes for the new Year!

    Xanadu: This Lush, Tropical Garden


    1. Glad you liked that phrase. Sorry you found the form distracting – however it was done on purpose. The shape is akin to a female form standing on a pedestal that has her both held high and cut off at the same time. So I am afraid I won’t be aligning it to the left unfortunately. But I do take on board your thoughts…
      Happy New Year to you !


  9. first of all, you teach me beautiful new things, and second of all, the following lines:
    “sculpted loved ones
    in to acceptable moulds
    until they poured free
    and flowed in other directions”
    are going to stay engraved in my mind for a very long time…


    1. Thanks Isadora, that means a lot coming from you – I just went and read your poem – the tears are still sticky on my face. May 2012 bring you great joy…


  10. ohhh I like this a lot!! love the word choice – Xanthippe, the shrill wife of socrates – this poem perfectly catches it and more – the backstory too – loved the descriptions too and some favourite lines “protecting herself
    with violent tongue
    amidst fiery eyed silences,
    tis there that she reigns supreme
    in the sepia tones of the solitary” – that last line is so good!! nice work with this one, I’ll be saving this blog to my blog folder 🙂 nice to see it up at poetry palace


    1. Ohhh – thank you for the wonderful comment. She was an interesting character and I’ve often wondered if she was not misunderstood. Who’s ever to know what drove her to her supposed shrewishness…


  11. First off…great site. Second I love this piece. The sad portrayal is hauntingly beautiful in a strange and ghostly way. My daughter and I dream of visiting New Zealand one day. She is studying the language.Happy New Year!


  12. Excellent entry for X day! Thanks for sharing;o)
    I hope you had a wonderful time with your family and friends and wish you all the best for the new year!

    ♥ღ♥ღ♥ღ♥HAPPY NEW YEAR♥ღ♥ღ♥ღ♥


  13. This poem is really well done. The story it tells is all too common. I was curious to know what xanthippe meant– thanks for the tip on that and the quote from The Taming of the Shrew.


  14. The poem was a perfect write for the picture, and very well-wrought, Jo. I have a new respect for your word-smithing abilities! I have to admit, I really enjoyed the video clip, too! 🙂 Thanks very much for sharing.


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