Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"The Woof of Darkness Thick"

Over the weekend, I watched Jane Campion's latest film, Bright Star. It's about the doomed love affair between Romantic poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne. It's a beautiful, tranquil film that manages to convey a sense of both the delights and hardships of early 19th century life and to make the characters seem alive and intense, rather than like paper dolls, or worse—callow actors in ruffled costumes. Keats, as you may remember from high-school English class, was one of the late Romantic poets. He was a medical student turned writer, who had no prospects and no living, and his literary endeavors were critically unacclaimed for the most part. He fell in love with the girl next door, but could not afford to marry her. Plus, he had tuberculosis, which had already killed his brother.  ("Bright Star" is one of Keats' most well regarded sonnets today; it was written for Fanny at the time that Keats was dying.) Keats was forced to move to Rome in the autumn of 1820 in order to avoid another English winter, but the Mediterranean climate did not help him, and he died in Rome, on February 23, 1821. He was twenty-five years old. I have seen the small, dark paneled room in which he lived his final months, and I visited his tombstone in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome, but until I saw this film, I had no urge, really, to revisit Keats' poetry.

I don't care much for most of it. It strikes me as a bit gloomy and lovesick without any of the flashes of color or moments of self-reflection that Wordsworth has, or the crazy, psychedelic imagery of Coleridge or Blake. Plus, there are no dogs. No wonder Keats was so sad. Here, however, is a taste of his work:

                    The Day is Gone 
The day is gone, and all its sweets are gone!
    Sweet voice, sweet lips, soft hand, and softer breast,
Warm breath, light whisper, tender semi-tone,
    Bright eyes, accomplish'd shape, and lang'rous waist!
Faded the flower and all its budded charms,
    Faded the sight of beauty from my eyes,
Faded the shape of beauty from my arms
    Faded the voice, warmth, whiteness, paradise—
Vanished unseasonably at shut of eve,
   When the dusk holiday—or holinight
Of fragrant-curtain'd love begins to weave
    The woof of darkness thick, for hid delight;
But, as I've read love's missal through to-day,
He'll let me sleep, seeing I fast and pray.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Open Wide and Say "Woof"

I went to my new dentist today, and she told me that I have "good canine guidance."

I said, "I know, Doctor, but what about my teeth?"

Bah-dum-bum. Kish! Thank you, ladies and germs.

Apparently, our canines, the teeth that frame our front teeth on top and bottom, are not only good for tearing raw flesh from recently slaughtered mastadon bones, they also provide alignment to the rest of our teeth when we chew our tofu or corn dogs. Those lacking good canine guidance may find that their teeth go askew when gnashing, which can cause your front ones to collide and chip. Ouch!

That said, despite my superior alignment, I'm looking at a molar extraction pretty darned soon. Roma will be my role model; she had one pulled and one reconstructed—twice— and didn't even take a day off from work.  So, do yourselves a favor. Stop reading this and go floss your teeth right now. Yes, now!