The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

The Imperfect Lover
By Nicanor Parra
Translated by Thomas Merton

A pair of newlyweds
Halt before a tomb
She is in severe white

To observe without being seen
I hide behind a pillar.

While the sad bride
Weeds her father's grave
The imperfect lover devotes himself
To reading a magazine


"If the troubadour poets sang to their unattainable loves in the language of high mass, Parra's poem 'The Viper' reminds us how love can enslave," writes Mary Karr in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World last Sunday: "'"For years I was doomed to worship a contemptible woman.../Work night and day to feed her and clothe her,/Perform several crimes, commit several misdemeanors.../For fear of a scornful glance from her bewitching eyes.'" W.S. Merwin translated that one; Merton translated the above, in which the man rather than the woman is perfidious.

I had a lovely Monday with dementordelta and gblvr at Yuan Fu, the vegetarian Chinese restaurant the latter introduced me to last week. dementordelta also brought much of her collection of RenFaire clothing so I could try some of it on and borrow stuff for the Virginia RenFaire in a few weeks! Now I can be a proper wench! Plus she brought me a Lucius action figure with a little snake-head pimp cane, and a moose. And Ken dolls. And we spent the afternoon watching the Sweeney Todd DVD special features, the Sean Bean scenes in Caravaggio, the deleted scenes in Galaxy Quest and other indulgences. So life is good.

The kitchen area of the greenhouse slave quarters at Mount Vernon. At one time, four barracks like this existed at the plantation.

Over 300 slaves worked at Mount Vernon while Washington lived there. At least 10 slept in these barracks at a time. One family included Isaac, a carpenter, Kitty, a dairy maid, and nine daughters.

Most of the field workers lived in cabins like this one. On the Mount Vernon web site, Washington wrote, "Black laborers (men and women) being the usual number which have been employed on this farm, are, with their children, warmly lodged chiefly in houses of their own building."

The outlying cabins were made of logs from local trees, some for single families, some for more than one family.

There are no images or accounts of the construction of the chimneys, but there are records of the types of chimneys used at Mount Vernon that were used to design the wood and clay chimney of the reproduction.

Fish caught in the Potomac River were treated in the salthouse. In the spring it was not unusual for the slaves to catch over a million fish, some of which were sold along the East Coast, some of which were discarded and used as fertilizer, and some of which were the slaves' primary source of protein.

Washington bred sheep to produce better quality wool and insisted that Mount Verenon produce its own textiles to achieve self-sufficiency from imported goods. Enslaved spinners carded in their own quarters and used the spinning room for spinning and weaving.

Read interesting articles on the complicated political history of the Olympic torch relay and the amateur discovery of a prehistoric axe blade. Watched the season finale of New Amsterdam, which wasn't terrific but was good enough to make me hope it comes back next season; I will be very relieved if Sara is out of the picture for good, as John has better chemistry with every historical guest star and with both Eva and Callie (I really enjoyed the faked argument with the latter). But my happiest TV-watching hour of the month so far was Doctor Who's "Fires of Pompeii," which just rocked in so many ways: Donna insisting that she's Spartacus too, screaming at the Doctor when he won't stop and explain how fixed points in time work and then insisting that he needs to save someone sometimes for its own sake, and the Doctor appreciating the fact that she doesn't adore him the way Rose and Martha did and letting her decide to put herself at risk instead of patronizing her. I'm so glad the US is only going to be a couple of weeks behind the UK this season!

Daniel has already cracked the veneers he just had put on his teeth a couple of weeks ago. Arrgh. Hopefully they can fix it Wednesday when I'm already driving to the dentist since Adam has an appointment. Happy Tax Day!

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