Division of an Estate
By George Moses Horton
It well bespeaks a man beheaded, quite
Divested of the laurel robe of life,
When every member struggles for its base;
The head, the power of order, now recedes,
Unheeded efforts rise on every side,
With dull emotion rolling through the brain
Of apprehending slaves. The flocks and herds
In sad confusion now run to and fro,
And seem to ask, distressed, the reason why
That they are thus prostrated. Howl, ye dogs!
Ye cattle, low! Ye sheep, astonish'd, bleat!
Ye bristling swine, trudge squealing through the glades,
Void of an owner to impart your food.
Sad horses, lift your head and neigh aloud,
And caper, frantic, from the dismal scene;
Mow the last food upon your grass clad lea,
And leave a solitary home behind,
In hopeless widowhood, no longer gay.
The trav'ling sun of gain his journey ends
In unavailing pain; he sets with tears--
A King, sequestered, sinking from his throne,
Succeeded by a train of busy friends,
Like stars which rise with smiles to mark the flight
Of awful Phoebus to another world.
Stars after stars in fleet succession rise,
Into the wide empire of fortune clear,
Regardless of the donor of their lamps,
Like heirs forgetful of parental care,
Without a grateful smile or filial tear,
Redound in reverence to expiring age.
But soon parental benediction flies
Like vivid meteors in a moment gone,
As though they ne'er had been; but O, the state,
The dark suspense in which poor vassals stand;
Each mind upon the spire of chance hangs, fluctuant,
The day of separation is at hand.
Imagination lifts her gloomy curtain
Like ev'ning's mantle at the flight of day,
Through which the trembling pinnacle we spy,
On which we soon must stand with hopeful smiles,
Or apprehending frowns, to tumble on
The right or left forever.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. Pinsky's column is on the new Library of America anthology Poets of the Civil War, edited by J.D. McClatchy, who writes that the most divisive national conflict produced "no one great sweeping poem -- no American Iliad." The anthology includes poets of the North and South, famous literary figures as well as obscure ones.
Horton spent most of his life as a Southern slave, and in the poem above, which Pinsky quotes only in part, he attempts to describe what happens to a farm when the owner dies -- the dispersion and sale of cattle, swine, horses, and, ultimately, people. "In such lines," says Pinsky, "imagination lifts its immeasurably somber curtain on the great national division."
It was younger son's last day of Hebrew school and he had a soccer game in the early afternoon, so we had a relatively mundane Saturday -- we all went to the game (they won), then we stopped by the studio where he takes violin lessons to get his new violin tuned because none of us do it very well and his teacher had promised a lesson, and then we were going to get haircuts but both kids balked at this so instead we stopped by the food store and ended up racing home to beat the thunderstorms that kept me offline for several hours.
In the evening we watched the first half of Longitude, which is phenomenal. Michael Gambon plays a carpenter who spent his life trying to invent a clock that would allow navigation at sea, and Jeremy Irons plays a veteran obsessed with restoring his machines. I'd been told that it was a rather dry story but that couldn't be more wrong; the scientific obsession is quite riveting even to someone like me who has trouble following the most basic information about maps and vectors, and both main characters are emotional, fanatical sorts who are very compelling to watch, though I'm not thrilled with the dichotomy between Gambon's character's supportive wife and the witch they've made Irons' character's wife out to be for wanting outrageous things like a husband bringing in an income and a sex life. It may be based on reality, but they could have given both characters more depth than they bothered with in the screenplay.
Here is my Russell Crowe squee for the day, mitigated by the fact that Nicole Kidman is involved -- you know, it's a pain in the ass intensely disliking Kidman and Paltrow while only being lukewarm on Zellwegger, considering that they seem to get dibs on every major script out there, while really talented people like Winslet, Blanchett, Theron, Connelly and Linney end up in smaller movies and smaller roles, which perhaps is partly their choice but one rarely hears that they were considered for parts in which Kidman ends up miscast like The Human Stain or The Hours. Even Hilary Swank, who keeps taking roles I dislike but whose talent is undeniable. Even Sarah Michelle Gellar, who makes me want to vomit in every interview I read with her but who has consistently impressed me with what she can do when she's not doing Scooby-Doo -- I don't see why she should stop, though, when she can make a cool million for goofing off with her husband instead of doing some tiny independent film. Miranda Otto's from Australia, isn't she? Let her play a lead role opposite Crowe in a big Aussie movie.
Usually vitriol of the sort that I get from fanatical Star Trek fans sort of rolls off me -- I don't get why they give such a shit what I think, I don't understand why my opinion would be so disempowering to them that they'd feel it necessary to direct such fury at me, and it's usually just the standard "You're an idiot" stuff. This one really sort of freaked me out though. I'm tempted to do a letters column -- we haven't done one in awhile -- and print the guy's e-mail address, because I imagine I'm not the only woman who'd love to take a swing at him.
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Maxson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: [my work address]
Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2005 12:09 PM
Subject: There's one good thing about Enterprise being cancelled that you haven't noted...
It's the fact that we won't have to listen to your incessant whinings about how the series sucks, and it doesn't live up to your expectations, and how you'd be such a better person at the helm than Berman, Braga and Coto.
I'll be honest, I've only read your reviews for the spoilers. After the first few posts where you made complaints and didn't bother to back them up with either facts or a conclusion for said, I tuned them out. In fact, a *LOT* of people tuned them out. They, quite simply, came across as the rantings of a typical BUFF - Big Ugly Female Fan, the type that's ruined Trek fandom almost as bad as the retards who *live* the show rather than just simply enjoy it.
Do us a major favor, - *don't* review the TOS episodes. Your insights happen to be viewed from within your own rectal cavity, and those of us who watched TOS when it *premiered* really don't need your shitty outlook offending our memories. It's not about intolerance at all, it's about simply not wanting to hear from opinionated bimbos like yourself who have a) no journalistic experience, b) no real experience or training insofar as analytical research goes with regards to reviewing *anything*, and c) just have this need to run things down that need support just to make yourself look big.
As George Burns said in "Oh God!" - *just* *shut* *up*. In fact, shut the *fuck* up, and climb down off your high horse before you fall off and hurt someone when your fat ass lands on top of them.
Gee, I was under the impression that the female fans were the reason TNG's numbers were high enough to keep Star Trek on the air for so long, and that their departure in droves from testosterone-drive Enterprise contributed greatly to its demise. I wonder whether he means "retards" in the "euthanase them" sense of Paxton from last night's episode? And is it wimping out to be thinking that the minimal pay I'll receive to review the original series may just not be worth the psychic energy to deal with mail like this? I can't filter all my work mail, after all, and I'm sure to come across some crap like this on a regular basis, and there's not a lot of joy left...I wonder whether there will be any left after another year of this. I can't stand thinking about Voyager and my dominant memories of Enterprise are all mixed up with fans like this, who seem to be the majority if the posters on the TrekBBS are a fair sampling...maybe I should keep my love for the original series pure in my heart.
Sunday we are going downtown to the Asian games exhibit -- I am not sure yet whether this will be with or without my parents. Hopefully the rain spent itself earlier -- at least the pollen count has dropped!
Effigies of Knights, Temple Church. (Kingdom of Heaven made me realize I hadn't posted any photos of the knights, though the Templars were scapegoats in the film -- murderous Christian fanatics and hypocrites, so that the bulk of Christians could be portrayed as noble, honest folk who didn't really want to be fighting the equally noble Muslims for the city.)