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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

George Herbert: The Pulley (Pandora's Box)


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Marilyn Monroe on crutches, while recuperating from an ankle injury during the filming of The River of No Return, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alberta: photo by John Vachon, 27 August 1953, from Look magazine photographic collection, Library of Congress; image by marilyn-monroe2011, 22 January 2012



 ............When God at first made man,

Having a glasse of blessings standing by;

Let us (said he) poure on him all we can:

Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,

                Contract into a span.



                So strength first made a way;

Then beautie flow'd, then wisdome, honour, pleasure:

When almost all was out, God made a stay,

Perceiving that alone of all his treasure

                Rest in the bottome lay.



                For if I should (said he)

Bestow this jewell also on my creature,

He would adore my gifts in stead of me,

And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:

                So both should losers be.



                Yet let him keep the rest,

But keep them with repining restlessnesse:

Let him be rich and wearie, that at least,

If goodnesse leade him not, yet wearinesse

                May tosse him to my breast.



George Herbert (1593-1633): The Pulley, from The Temple (1633) 



Marilyn Monroe, with bandaged ankle, waves to the camera from an open, one-seat chairlift, suspended high over an evergreen-covered valley in the Canadian Rockies, Banff, Alberta: photo by John Vachon, 27 August 1953, from Look magazine photographic collection, Library of Congress; image by rachel ⚡, 15 October 2010

Marilyn Monroe with Joe Dimaggio, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alberta: photo by John Vachon, 27 August 1953, from Look magazine photographic collection, Library of Congress; image by rachel ⚡, 15 October 2010

File:Pithos Louvre CA4523.jpg

Orientalizing pithos: found in Arcades (?), Crete, ca. 675 BC., terracotta, stamped and incised decoration, height 1.56 m, diameter 87 cm.; image by Jastrow, 2005 (Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Musée du Louvre, Paris)

8 comments:

Wooden Boy said...

Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessnesse

There’s the delight in the play of language; foolish way to a fierce truth.

I love the pictures of Marilyn in crutches (always in crutches) and Louise Brooks in ecstasy.

That's hope for you.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Yes, not only Marilyn on crutches and Louse in ecstacy but Marilyn on chairlift, Marilyn with Joe, urn shaped like Marilyn.

"Having a glasse of blessings standing by"

Coincidentally (?) I was looking at Warhol's Marilyn Diptych last night, begun weeks after her suicide in August 1962, just 9 short years after John Vachon took these pictures.


12.26

grey of rain cloud above shadowed green
ridge, drops falling on red brick plane
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

view of objects in painting,
presence of “objects”

external event, evidence of
it, which includes it

grey rain cloud against shadowed ridge,
circular green pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...

Lana may have avoided collapse had she resorted to the chair lift.

(Louise probably would have got along quite well without either, brave girl that she was.)

This is I believe the only extant photo of the star of the diamond and the star of the screen together.

However, as vs. AW (that mechanical iconographer of celebrity), John Vachon, being John Vachon, has skipped over (as if unawares) the "star" aspect of Marilyn's persona, preferring to show her more "common" -- vulnerable, approachable -- side.

Another photo in the Look portfolio (only three of some 200 Vachon shots from the "escape" location in Canada ever made it into the magazine) shows her, again with ankle wrap and crutches, at the hotel swimming pool, larking about with some kids.

Seeking and finding the common, Vachon always brings things down from the (false) glamour plane to the (real) human plane.

WB, Thanks very much for seeing the crucial doubleness in "rest".

The post was designed to fit the poem, in the "metaphysical" mode, by playing a conceit upon a conceit wrapped within a conceit.

The Greek pithos represents that legendary "glasse" or "box" of (dubious) blessings, in the original myth.

When Herbert has "the worlds riches/Contract into a span", he means into the width of the open hand from thumb-tip to tip of little finger.

A useful bit on the poem:

"Classical myth lies behind this poem in the story of Pandora's box, from which all grief escaped to trouble mankind, according to Hesiod, or all goods, in the minority view, leaving only hope in the box as a gift. Here all virtues and goods are distributed, sufficient to make man independent of God, with the exception of rest, which man can find only with God. The poet puns on 'rest' as 'peace of mind' and 'rest' as 'remainder'."

-- John Tobin

Wooden Boy said...

There's something in Stephen's shadowed green that matters for me here. Can't quite unpick it.

TC said...

Of course Steve may wish to speak for himself on this point, but I take that passage to refer to one of the large fleeting rain clouds streaming in off the ocean, moving over and thus enshadowing the trees that deck the upper reaches of Mount Tamalpais, visible from his daily location.

(Steve the constant master of local landscape knowledge, in his particular precinct as ever.)

Wooden Boy said...

The grand beauty of it. I want to be back in Wales. We should get back to Herbert's beauty, I guess.

Hazen said...

Quite a pair, Marilyn and Herbert. She was a blessing too. She had talent and beauty, and she had soul, a rare quality anytime, anywhere.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Yes Wooden Boy, something in that "shadowed green" that matters to me too. And yes, Tom's got it, having been a long-time (if now long ago) resident of this oft (though not today) shadowed landscape.