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Tuesday 1 March 2011

Sad Goddess: Marilyn Monroe


Marilyn Monroe's skirt in The Seven Year Itch, 1955: cropped screenshot from film trailer by Kasper, 2006

First Marilyn Monroe memory
involves being in back seat of car
driven by youthful friend's father, who
tells joke that hinges on proposition
that even if Marilyn Monroe

were bald, etc. We are on Congress Street
driving west around Wabash, I think,
since we are passing Minsky's Burlesque.
The entire past, viewed in black and white,
inspires sensation of having dirt

under collar, sleazy dim subtext.
secret embarrassment, not knowing,
never ceasing to wonder about
and being continually surprised
how anything in nature functions.

Marilyn Monroe in River of No Return, 1954: screenshot from film trailer by Liorek, 2009

Marilyn Monroe in River of No Return, 1954: screenshot from film trailer by Liorek, 2009


Anonymous said...

I think you've nailed it and captured in a few short lines and a story the "essential Marilyn Monroe", which the phrase "Sad Goddess" perfectly encapsulates. The images complete the tale. Obviously there are other things to say about Marilyn Monroe and different ways to appreciate her. But as an American boy's experience of her, I think this is it.



"cropped screenshot . . . screenshot . . . screenshot" framing poem "screenshot" of memory's "sleazy dim subtext". . . .


orange redness of sky above still black
plane of ridge, red-tailed hawk calling
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

balanced in its frame as if
drawn, reduced to its

correspondence with picture
plane, objects, which

grey white clouds to the left of point,
shadowed green of ridge across channel


ps. Sorry about link to O'Hara reading, no period after "html" --

TC said...

"Obviously there are other things to say about Marilyn Monroe and different ways to appreciate her..."

Never truer words. Pathos, mystery, distance, sadness, the essence of Used and Misunderstood, everybody's phantasmagoric projection, tormented human being... and in the end probably no

"correspondence with picture"


Anonymous said...

Regarding "no 'correspondence with picture'", I hear you. Caroline's career, which involved continual contact with celebrity musicians demonstrated that to us all the time. The nice thing were the occasional pleasant surprises and moments of unexpected congruence between person and persona. One nice Marilyn story I heard a long time ago concerns the boarding school I attended, which was in Washington, Connecticut. During her marriage to Arthur Miller, Marilyn regularly used to visit our school on Wednesday afternoons and watch the mid-week varsity or j.v. football games. (The Millers lived in Roxbury, which was quite close by.) I heard about this from various faculty members and/or their wives, who said she was always quietly dressed, extremely pretty up close and very pleasant. That was well before my time there, but at least I got to hear and enjoy the story.

TC said...

I think maybe, for Marilyn, that might have been one of those "I'll do ANYTHING to get out of the house!" things.

To be an ultra-charismatic movie star must have been difficult enough, but just imagine being wed to an author of Deeply Meaningful Dramas.

Anonymous said...

That is essentially how it was described to me. Our campus (and that part of Connecticut generally) is very beautiful in the fall. There was also a girl's boarding school in Washington and the two schools performed co-ed ensemble versions the usual dramas of the day including, of course, The Crucible.

TC said...

Yes, Curtis -- The Crucible was definitely a must, in that period, on virtually every campus.


Tom and Curtis,

NIce to find this conversation about Marilyn, which ends up with The Crucible, in which I played the part of Giles Corey in my senior year at Burlingame High (my last words, before they pressed me to death with stones (offstage of course, which I realized years later must have been my first experience of "offstage action," were "More weight."

TC said...


Those are indeed brilliant last words, and should not go to waste.

I am planning to save them for just the right moment... which in fact feels like it could arrive at any time.