The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

Fine Knacks for Ladies
Adapted by John Dowland

Fine knacks for ladies, cheap, choice, brave and new!
Good pennyworths! but money cannot move.
I keep a fair but for the fair to view;
A beggar may be liberal of love.
Though all my wares be trash, the heart is true.

Great gifts are guiles and look for gifts again;
My trifles come as treasures from the mind.
It is a precious jewel to be plain;
Sometimes in shell the Orient's pearls we find.
Of others take a sheaf, of me a grain.

Within this pack pins, points, laces and gloves,
And diverse toys fitting a country fair.
But in my heart, where duty serves and loves,
Turtles and twins, court's brood, a heavenly pair.
Happy the heart that thinks of no removes!


Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World notes that the poem above is anonymous, set to music by John Dowland, who lived from 1563 to 1626. "Just saying the poem aloud creates a kind of tune," Pinsky states. "The unknown a sincere plainness for his ways of writing and courting. Cunning as well as tuneful, the poem is a rather fancy assertion of being straightforward or unadorned. Writing a poem that imitates the call of a street vendor is a paradoxically elaborate way of suggesting that the 'wares' offered are unpretentious and truehearted...hard for any turtledove to resist this dazzling assertion of simplicity. A 'sheaf' of others -- a sheaf of pages or of wheat-stalks -- equals one grain of this peddler's wares.

Saturday we went to the International Spy Museum, which is housed in a building more than 100 years old in a neighborhood undergoing rapid restoration, and which we had never visited before. It's a fantastic museum with kids -- we were there with five in all, ranging from three to twelve, and although the youngest got restless in the historic section of the exhibit (no computers to play with there), the older kids were completely absorbed, particularly in the early part where you pick the identity of a spy, memorize details and then put them into a computer for a "mission." There's also a climbing-and-crawling through ducts exercise, a bunch of computerized activities like identifying a suspected spy from surveillance video and picking equipment for an infiltration, and there are a great many neat things to look at -- some of our favorites in the main exhibit hall were James Bond's Aston Martin, a piece of fabric modeled on Elizabeth I's dress from the Rainbow Portrait with eyes and ears embroidered on it, an umbrella with a firearm hidden in the handle that's a copy of one used for an assassination and a display on whether Bacon or Marlowe wrote Shakespeare using modern cryptography to look for clues (conclusion: no).

My kids' single favorite item was probably the doggie doo camera -- a miniature camera hidden in a pile of dried poop, on the theory that no one would pick it up to examine it. There is a traveling exhibit on "Spy Treasures of Hollywood" that has Diana Rigg's leather pants from The Avengers (I think I may have scandalized my friend from Chicago when I said I wanted to get into Emma Peel's pants, heh), some TV Mission: Impossible props like Barbara Bain's fake ID photos, a whole bunch of James Bond items including shoes that demonstrate that much as I don't like Sean Connery, the man has HUGE feet, and some Austin Powers stuff that the kids appreciated, not having seen most of the movies and TV shows there. They were a little interested in the Mata Hari sex-spying but much more interested in the use of pigeons for surveillance! And they had these little light-up glitter lamps with the museum logo for $8 and it is making my desk a happy place. Regrettably, there were no photos allowed in the exhibits, but here are a few from around the museum:

The Warder Building, one of several connected historic buildings that house the International Spy Museum.

T-shirt from the gift shop that son found most appropriate. (He actually once claimed that he "lost" his report card when he tripped and dropped it in a storm drain!)

A few blocks away, the FBI Building. *cue X-Files theme, which reminds me of the time I called for an article for with the words, "I'm calling from AnotherUniverse..." only to be told in an exasperated voice that the FBI did not really have a paranormal division*

Our kids and our friends' kids putting their hands in the fountain at the Sculpture Garden next to the National Gallery of Art, just before the little boy in red fell in -- fortunately his parents had brought a change of clothes.

Tonight we discovered that The Terminator was on and even though it is R-rated (for bloodiness, the F word and Linda Hamilton's breasts), we let the kids watch it because they know so much about the Governator that we figured they were entitled to know where he came from. I think of that analytically as a pretty good movie but I had forgotten just how much I love it. Makes me want to reread Constance Penley's essay on the film's use of the word "motherfucker" and how the primal scene plays out as a form of utopian thinking. *G* The kids greatly enjoyed the movie and now I must track down not only Judgment Day, which in some ways I think is better than the first -- I recall feeling that it was more feminist, with Sarah being much more in control of her own destiny -- but Rise of the Machines, which I have never seen. Oh, Arnold, why couldn't you have stayed in Hollywood? The Running Man and Total Recall are among my favorite guilty pleasures!

Sunday is my father's birthday and we are going to the Nationals-Dodgers game. The Dodgers (Brooklyn, not L.A.) were his childhood team so I am not even sure who he's rooting for. I am rooting for the Nationals to justify all the money DC is spending on them by winning!

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