Aug. 13, 2013

One Woman

by Ron Carlson

Oh, the old love song again and again
devotion and desire without end,
a woman half dressed somewhere and
being admired, or dressed and being admired.

These men go off alone into their rooms
and write it down: she was this and she was that.
Every man says she's the woman above all,
on a pedestal, though no one says pedestal,
that would be crazy,
and there's a thousand of these poems,
and by that I mean a million declarations
of this singular love of this one of a kind woman,
so rare, an absolute phenomenon which
many times rivals the moon or the oceans,
or the wind in the trees or night or any of the
furniture of night or day.

You see what I mean:
big unknowable things.
What are we to make of it? This:
it's true. Each man is telling the truth.
Each woman puts all the other women second.
It's the way. The strap of her gown off her shoulder,
and the paradox prevails. These poems are
all true. Each woman stands alone
in the doorway or on the pedestal
in the perfect light.

"One Woman" by Ron Carlson, from Room Service. © Red Hen Press, 2012. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this day in 1940 that Germany began to bomb England during World War II, beginning the Battle of Britain. France had just been conquered, and Germany's plan was to destroy Great Britain's Royal Air Force before it began a land invasion of the country. The British had the most advanced radar systems in the world, which helped them shoot down many of the German bombers, but by the middle of August they had lost a quarter of their aircraft. Everything changed on August 24th, when a German bomber accidentally bombed London. Britain responded by bombing Berlin. Hitler was so angry that he ordered his air force to bomb London exclusively, turning his attention away from the Royal Air Force. If Hitler had focused on destroying the Royal Air Force, he probably would have won the battle. Instead, the British weathered the bombing raids until the United States could join the war, which lead to Germany's ultimate defeat.

It's the birthday of the first man ever to print a book in English, William Caxton, born in Kent, England (1422). He was a wealthy trader and merchant, and also a part-time linguist and translator. He was living in Cologne, Germany, when he translated a book about the history of Troy.

The printing press had been invented about 25 years earlier, but it had only recently started to spread beyond Germany. Caxton realized that the new technology of printing would make the job of distributing his book a lot easier. So instead of copying the book by hand, he printed The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye in 1475.

He eventually went back to England, where he established the first English printing press. He printed all the available English literature, including Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (c. 1478). For a long time, people in England called printed books Caxtons.

It's the birthday of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, born in London (1899). He directed many films, including Strangers on a Train (1951), Rear Window (1954), and Psycho (1960), which earned him the title of "Master of Suspense."

He was a shy, quiet boy, and spent most of his childhood alone, making up games. His parents were Catholic and believed in strict punishment. Once, his father sent him to the police station, where a policeman locked him in a cell for five minutes, and said, "This is what we do to naughty boys." Years later, after making a series of movies about people who are falsely accused of crimes, he said, "I'm not against the police; I'm just afraid of them."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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