Posts Tagged ‘Arthur Miller’

William Blake Month: She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot; is bound / In spells of law to one she loathes

June 24, 2010

Some thoughts from Mr. Blake on free love, fidelity, procreative pressure, and the institution of marriage as it functioned (and did not) for ladies during his lifetime:


Jane Birikin and the dread Serge G.

… She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot;
is bound
In spells of law to one she loathes:
and must she drag the chain
Of life, in weary lust!


Must chilling murderous thoughts obscure
The clear heaven of her eternal spring?
to bear the wintry rage
Of a harsh terror driv’n to madness, bound to hold a rod
Over her shrinking shoulders all the day;


Marilyn and Arthur on their wedding day. Marilyn’s dress was ivory but her veil arrived white, so rather than freak out or buy a new one she soaked it in tea overnight. She was an orphan and imminently practical.

& All the night
To turn the wheel of false desire: and longings
that wake her womb
To the abhorred birth of cherubs in the human form
That live a pestilence & die a meteor & are no more.

(William Blake, excerpt from Visions of the Daughters of Albion. 1793. Shockingly self-published.)


The Graduate (Kubrick, 1967).EDIT: It was directed by Mike Nichols, not Stanley Kubrick. Jesus-christ-bananas. How that got past me is a mystery. Mucho mas mucho thanks to Peteski for the heads-up!

Happy bride month, am I right? Goin’ to the chapel…

In all seriousness, William Blake was a sort of pre-feminist and a great admirer of Mary Wollstonecraft but for all his forward-thinking, he could behave curiously backwardly and contemporarily to the times in his personal life, almost as if his own wife, Catherine, did not count in his reckoning of the equalities of the opposite sex.


Audrey and Mel. She looks terribly unhappy and trapped. I do not believe this was their wedding day but rather shortly before their breakup in an ad for Givenchy’s L’Interdit, the first celebrity fragrance. I wear Givenchy Amarige when I am Really Me. But that is very rare. So often it is best to be Other Me-s, so I roll with Michael by Michael Kors.

As an example, when they had trouble conceiving, Blake openly advocated bringing another, younger woman into their marriage and relegating Catherine to second-class status in a different bedroom. My guess is he backed up his proposal by citing the timeless, good ol’ Rachel/Leah biblical argument, which reminds me that I get to hit Handmaid’s Tale next month.


Humbert and Lo’s toes. Lolita (Kubrick, 1962).

Okay, I went in to more insomnia-fueled bookfoolery and this entry is now uncomfortably longer than I’d prefer a Blake one to be. I’m going to split it up. Meet me in the next post. More Kubrick, even (I didn’t intend for that to happen but now that it has I’m on board). (edit: again, The Graduate is directed by Mike Nichols. Not Stanley Kubrick.)

William Blake Month: “Rose, thou art sick”

June 4, 2010


Marilyn Monroe on her honeymoon. Arthur Miller in background.

O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

(William Blake, “The Sick Rose.”)

This is a bad day. Bad things are happening. Shocking, incomprehensible things miles away, coming at a time when I thought accords were being reached and newer, happier stages begun. I don’t understand any of it and there’s nothing I can do to make it better because none of it is anything I’ve done, even though it will all deeply impact me for a long time to come. Once again, I do not control the events of my own life.


Photographed by Andre de Dienes.

All I can do is keep praying for the safety of people I care about, even if I sense they would not care either way about my concern, and hope for peaceful resolutions to their conflicts. I also need to remember that I have my own personal life with its own dreams and priorities, and make sure I am tending to those in order to succeed on my own, and putting a true emphasis on the good, kind, wonderful people involved in my immediate present with the proper attention and attitude. I can’t spend all my time numb, indifferent to food, and losing hair and sleep over lives and behaviors that I am not sure I can ever understand.

My real life is not knots in my stomach and pacing around, but is the glad things that bring me joy; my real self and its happiness comes from my friends and family and spending time doing the things I love, like writing, reading, teaching, and photography. Not agonizing and gaining grey hairs over pre-existing situations that I could never better in a month of Sundays. It’s not that I will stop trying, it’s just that I will stop staking my identity and emotions on it. That’s not who I am. A happy person who deliberately seeks friends and family in a positive and creative environment: that is who I really am. I have to remind myself of that.

Soon, I will take my grandmother and we will go pick up kidlet from her last day of kindergarten, and take her out for a girls’ lunch, and I will lay these dark times aside to let her light shine on me for awhile.