Apr. 5, 2006

Love and Sleep

by Algernon Charles Swinburne

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Poem: "Love And Sleep" by Algernon Charles Swinburne. Public Domain.

Love And Sleep

Lying asleep between the strokes of night
I saw my love lean over my sad bed,
Pale as the duskiest lily's leaf or head,
Smooth-skinned and dark, with bare throat made to bite,
Too wan for blushing and too warm for white,
But perfect-coloured without white or red.
And her lips opened amorously, and said—
I wist not what, saving one word—Delight.
And all her face was honey to my mouth,
And all her body pasture to mine eyes;
The long lithe arms and hotter hands than fire,
The quivering flanks, hair smelling of the south,
The bright light feet, the splendid supple thighs
And glittering eyelids of my soul's desire.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of one of the most successful B-movie filmmakers in history, Roger Corman, born in Detroit, Michigan (1926). His father wanted him to be an engineer, so Corman went all the way through engineering school, graduated with his degree and got an engineering job only to quit after four days. He knew he wanted to work in Hollywood, so that's what he did.

It was a transitional period for Hollywood at the time. The big studios were already beginning to focus on big-budget films with stars and high production values. So it was left up to smaller independent studios to make the B-movies for teenagers at drive-in theaters around the country. Corman quickly figured out that it might be easier to make a profit in B-movies, because the cost of production was so low.

So with the money he'd made from selling his first script, Corman independently produced and directed his first feature film, The Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954), about a giant squid. Over the next five years, he made more than thirty more movies, most of them completed in two weeks or less, including Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), She-Gods of Shark Reef (1958), Teenage Caveman (1958), and A Bucket of Blood (1959), which he filmed in only two days to win a bet.

It was on this day in 1614 that John Rolfe and Pocahontas got married in the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia.

Pocahontas was the daughter of Chief Powhatan, who was kidnapped by the English settlers in Jamestown and held hostage in hopes of getting a peace agreement from the Powhatan tribe. But Chief Powhatan wasn't willing to negotiate, so Pocahontas remained in Jamestown where she was eventually converted to Christianity.

Pocahontas was smart and beautiful, and gained the admiration of many of the colonists during her captivity, but John Rolfe fell in love with her. They got married on this day in 1614, in a little church in Jamestown that was decorated with wildflowers. The marriage led to a long period of peace between Jamestown and the Powhatan Indians. It gave the colonists the time they needed to farm enough tobacco to export to Europe, which helped to make Jamestown a legitimate colony in the eyes of the British.

Two years after their marriage, Rolfe took Pocahontas and their infant son to England to try to garner support for the new colony. While they were there, Rolfe introduced Pocahontas to King James and Sir Walter Raleigh, both of whom were impressed by her manners and her ability to speak English. He also took her to meet his family in Heacham, a town a hundred miles away from London.

Pocahontas fell sick near the end of the trip, and died in Gravesend, England, just before they were about to return. She was just twenty years old.

The story of Pocahontas has become an American legend; it's been retold countless times in history books, novels, poems, TV shows, and movies. The story goes that John Smith was captured by the Powhatans and was about to be clubbed to death when a young Pocahontas ran out and took him in her arms, saving his life. In fact she had been kidnapped and the man who fell in love with her was John Rolfe.

It's the birthday of poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, born in London (1837). Swinburne was always extremely proud of his work. Before going to a friend's house, he would place his manuscript in his breast pocket and then button up his coat to make the bulge of the book more obvious. He would then go to the house and greet everyone. He would sit in a chair completely rigid, and then would say in an absent-minded way, "I have brought with me such and such book." He would wait in silence until someone said, "Oh, please do read it." He would then reply, "I had no intention in the world of boring you with it, but since you ask me. ..." And then he would read it.

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




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