A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bad Poetry: The Spleen

I'm treading on thin ice here, because this poem was actually published by no other than Dr. Johnson in his Poets. (On the other hand, Johnson did also say of Shakespeare, "He has scenes of undoubted and perpetual excellence, but perhaps not one play, which, if it were now exhibited as the work of a contemporary writer, would be heard to the conclusion.")

But, hey. Literature is ultimately a matter of taste, no? I find this poem--only an excerpt of which is reprinted here--hilariously funny. But given the epidemic of lifestyle-induced diseases like obesity (see my forthcoming column on Baystate Children's Hospital's pilot program to prevent high blood pressure and diabetes in kids), perhaps poets should be devoting more time to subjects like the spleen.

And who more competent to elevate the spleen to the sublime than Matthew Green (1697-1737), British customs officer?

from The Spleen
I always choose the plainest food
To mend viscidity of blood.
Hail! water gruel, healing power,
Of easy access to the poor;
Thy help love's confessors implore,
And doctors secretly adore:
To thee I fly, by thee dilute--
Through veins my blood doth quicker shoot;
And by swift current throws off clean
Prolific particles of spleen.

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