My Wife the Artist

Poesy plus Polemics

glass Stained Glass Window by The Vinery Glass Studio

stained glass gardens

humiliate real flowers

prismatic pieces

split rays of the sun

into factions of color

spears of morning who

penetrate petals

light bursting in blooms

upon patterns of

soldered seam joinery

lifting the life through

each intimate window

each mouth-blown

and delicate glazing

to place its artisanal

kisses on eyelids

who quiver awake

ever grateful for love

in the form of esthetic

affectionate gifts from

the generous capable

hands of a craftswoman

conqueror partner

whose heart captured

mine half a century

since and still now

more than ever her

tending and tenderness

making the all of my days

stained glass gardens

From my book Ephemera

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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE: A Retelling — Act 2, Scene 3

— 2.3 —

In an antechamber adjoining Imogen’s apartments, Cloten and some lords were talking.

The first lord said to Cloten, “Your lordship is the most patient man when enduring loss. You are the very coldest man who ever turned up the lowest number on a die — an ace.”

“It would make any man cold to lose,” Cloten said.

The first lord had used “cold” as meaning “impassive,” but Cloten used the word as meaning “gloomy.”

“But not every man is patient after your lordship’s noble temper. You are most hot and excitable when you win,” the first lord said.

“Winning will put any man into courage,” Cloten said. “If I could get this foolish Imogen, I should have gold enough.”

Imogen was the presumed heir to the throne, so if Cloten married her, he would almost certainly become very, very rich.

Cloten asked, “It’s almost morning, isn’t it?”

“It is day, my lord,” the first lord replied.

“I wish the musicians I hired would come,” Cloten said. “I have been advised to provide music for Imogen in the mornings. They say the music will penetrate.”

The musicians arrived, and Cloten continued his indelicate puns: “Come on; tune your instruments. If you can penetrate her with your fingering, good; we’ll try to penetrate her with tongue — vocal music — too. If none will do for her, then let her alone; but I’ll never give up.

“First, we will hear a very excellent cleverly devised thing; afterward, a wonderfully sweet air, with admirably rich words to it, and then let her consider me as a mate.”

A musician sang this song:

Hark! Hark! The lark at Heaven’s gate sings,

And Phoebus Apollo the Sun-god begins to arise,

His steeds to water at those springs

Where flowers with cup-like blossoms lie.

And closed marigold blossoms begin

To open their golden eyes.

With everything that pretty is,

My sweet lady, arise.

Arise, arise.

When the musicians had finished playing and singing the song, Cloten said, “So, leave now. If this penetrates, I will regard your music as being better than I have regarded it. If it does not penetrate, then it is a vice in her ears, which neither horsehairs and calves’ guts, nor the voice of an unpaved eunuch in addition, can ever amend.”

Horsehairs were used in bowstrings, and calves’ guts — intestines — were used in the strings of lutes and viols. An unpaved eunuch had no stones, aka testicles. A different kind of stones was used in paving roads.

The musicians exited.

The second lord said, “Here comes the King.”

Cloten said, “I am glad I was up so late because that’s the reason I was up so early — I have not gone to bed. The King — Imogen’s father — cannot choose but take fatherly this service I have done.”

King Cymbeline and the Queen came over to Cloten and the two lords.

Cymbeline said, “Are you waiting here at the door of our stern daughter? Won’t she come out?”

Cloten said, “I have assailed her with music, but she gives no notice of it.”

Cymbeline said, “The exile of her minion — Posthumus — is too new and recent. She has not yet forgotten him. Some more time must pass before she forgets him, and then she’s yours.”

“You owe the King, who lets go by no suitable opportunity to recommend you to his daughter,” the Queen said. “Prepare yourself to pursue her in a methodical fashion. Take advantage of favorable opportunities. Whenever she rejects you, pursue her more doggedly. Seem as if you were inspired by love to do those duties that you offer to her. Obey her in everything except when she rejects you and commands you to let her alone — that command you shall ignore and be senseless to.”

By “senseless,” the Queen meant “incapable of hearing.”

“Senseless!” Cloten said, misunderstanding her. “I am not senseless! I am not a fool!”

A messenger entered the room.

The messenger said to King Cymbeline, “Sir, ambassadors from Rome have come. The main ambassador is the Roman general Caius Lucius.”

Using the royal plural, Cymbeline replied, “He is a worthy fellow, although he comes here now with an angry purpose, but that’s no fault of his. We must receive him in accordance with the honor of his sender, and we must treat him well because of his past goodness to us.”

He said to Cloten, “Our dear stepson, when you have said good morning to Imogen, attend the Queen and us; we shall have need to employ you in escorting this Roman.”

He then said, “Let us go, our Queen.”

Everyone except Cloten exited.

Cloten said to himself, “If Imogen is up, I’ll speak with her; if she is not up, then let her lie still and dream.”

He knocked on her door and said loudly, “Open, please!”

Then he said quietly to himself, “I know her female servants are around her. What if I line one of their hands with money as a bribe? It is gold that buys admittance, often it does; yes, and gold makes the virgin goddess Diana’s gamekeepers be false to their vows and yield their deer to the stand of the stealer.”

The Roman goddess Diana was a hunter who fiercely guarded her virginity. A mortal hunter named Actaeon once accidentally saw her bathing naked; Diana turned his body into that of a stag although he kept his human mind, and his own hounds tore him to pieces. Cloten believed that gold would make the female servants of Imogen, who carefully guarded her chastity, deliver her into his hands. As he often did, he made an indecent pun. A hunter’s stand was a spot from which the hunter could shoot game; a stand was also an erection.

Cloten continued, “And it is gold that kills the honest man and saves the thief; no, sometimes gold hangs both thief and honest man. What can’t gold do and undo? I will make one of her female servants be a lawyer — an advocate — for me, for I do not yet understand the case myself.”

The word “case” meant “lawsuit,” and it was slang for “vagina.” The indecent meaning of what Cloten had said was that his erection was not yet under Imogen’s vagina; it was not yet under standing — that is, standing under — it.

He knocked again on Imogen’s door and said, “Open, please!”

As one of Imogen’s female servants opened the door, she asked, “Who’s knocking?”

Cloten replied, “A gentleman.”

“No more than that?” the female servant replied, coming out of Imogen’s bedchamber.

“Yes, more than that. I am a gentlewoman’s son,” replied Cloten, who was expensively dressed.

“That’s more than some men, whose tailors are as expensive as yours, can justly boast of. What’s your lordship’s pleasure?”

“Your lady’s person is my pleasure. Is she ready?”

Cloten was asking if Imogen was up and decently dressed, but the female servant misunderstood, perhaps deliberately, the meaning of “ready,” as she answered, “Yes, she is ready to stay in her bedchamber.”

Cloten held out some money to her and said, “There is gold for you; sell me your good report.”

“What!” the female servant said. “Sell you my own good report? Sell you what people say about me? Sell you my good reputation? Or do you want me to report — to say — good things about you to Imogen?”

Imogen walked through the door, and the female servant said, “The Princess!”

Cloten said to Imogen, “Good morning, fairest lady. Stepsister, give me your sweet hand.”

The female servant exited.

“Good morning, sir,” Imogen replied. “You take too many pains for purchasing nothing but trouble; the thanks I give you are to tell you that I am poor of thanks and scarcely can spare them.”

“Still, I swear I love you,” Cloten said.

“If you had just said you love me instead of swearing you love me, it would be the same to me. If you continue to swear, your recompense will continue to be the same — I will ignore what you say.”

“This is no answer,” Cloten said.

“I would say nothing to you except that I am afraid that if I am silent, you may say that I have yielded to your love. Please, spare me from speaking to you. Truly, I am afraid that I will give you discourtesy that will equal your best kindness. One of your ‘great knowledge’ should learn, being taught, forbearance.”

Imogen was being sarcastic when she said that Cloten possessed “great knowledge.”

“If I were to leave you in your madness, it would be my sin,” said Cloten, who believed that it would be mad for Imogen to reject him. “Therefore, I will not leave you.”

“Fools are not mad folks,” Imogen said.

She meant that she might be a fool for talking to Cloten, but she was not mad, and therefore Cloten could leave her.

Misunderstanding as usual, Cloten asked, “Are you calling me a fool?”

“As I am ‘mad,’ I do,” Imogen said. “You call me mad; I call you a fool. If you’ll exercise self-restraint and leave me alone, I’ll no longer be mad; that will cure us both. I am very sorry, sir, that you make me forget a lady’s manners. A lady ought to be mostly silent, but I have been very verbal. So that I need not speak further words to you, learn now, once and for all, that I, who know my own heart, do here say, very truthfully, that I do not care for you, and I am so close to lacking Christian charity that I must — am forced to — accuse myself of hating you. I wish that you could understand what I feel without my expressing it verbally.”

“You sin against obedience, which you owe your father,” Cloten said. “You made a marriage contract without the approval of your father, and so it is only a pretend marriage contract that you made with Posthumus, that base wretch, who was brought up with alms and fostered with cold dishes, with leftover scraps of food from the court — it is no marriage contract, not at all. Such a marriage contract is allowed for lowly people — yet who is more lowly than Posthumus? — to knit their souls in a marriage arranged by themselves only. Relying on these people are no dependents other than brats and beggars.

“You, however, are not permitted that freedom because of your importance. You will inherit the crown, and you must not dishonor and soil its precious reputation by either marrying a base slave, a good-for-nothing, worthless man fit only for the uniform of a servant, for wearing the cloth of a squire, for being the servant who keeps the pantry, or by marrying a man who is not as eminent as these men are.”

Imogen replied, “Profane fellow, if you were the son of Jupiter and no more but what you are besides that, you would be too base to be Posthumus’ servant. If social rank were based on merit and not on birth, Posthumus would be a King and you would be an assistant executioner in his Kingdom. As a hangman’s apprentice, you would be raised high enough in status that other people would envy and hate you for being promoted so well. People would envy and hate you because they would think that you had been promoted beyond what you deserve.”

“I hope the south wind rots Posthumus!” Cloten said.

In this culture, the south wind was thought to be damp and unhealthy.

Using the less respectful “thou” to refer to Cloten, Imogen said, “He can never meet more misfortune than for thou to say his name. His meanest garment — his underwear — that has ever hugged his body is dearer to me than all the hairs above you if they were to be made such men as you.”

Suddenly noticing that the bracelet that Posthumus had given to her was missing from her arm, Imogen said, “What!”

She called, “Pisanio!”

Pisanio came to her.

Cloten muttered, “‘His garment!’ What the devil —”

Imogen said to Pisanio, “Hurry immediately to my servant Dorothy—”

Cloten muttered, “‘His garment!’”

Imogen said, “I am haunted by a fool. Something has happened that frightens — and worse, angers — me. Go tell Dorothy to search for a bracelet that accidentally and too carelessly has left my arm. It was your master’s gift to me. May I be cursed if I would lose it for the income of any King who is in Europe. I think I saw it this morning; I am confident that it was on my arm last night — I kissed it. I hope that it has not gone to make my husband think that I kiss anyone but he.”

“We will find it,” Pisanio said.

“I hope so,” Imogen replied. “Go and search for it.”

Pisanio exited.

Cloten said to Imogen, “You have insulted me. ‘His meanest garment!’”

“Yes, I said that, sir. If you want to make a lawsuit out of it, call me as a witness to it.”

“I will inform your father,” Cloten said.

“Inform your mother, too,” Imogen replied. Sarcastically, she said, “She’s my ‘good lady,’” and then added, “and will think, I think, only the worst of me. So, I leave you, sir, to the worst discontent and unhappiness.”

Imogen exited.

Alone, Cloten said, “I’ll be revenged on her. ‘His meanest garment!’ Well!”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

David Bruce: Bible Anecdotes

The Bible contains stories of giants such as Goliath, so many people believe that giants once walked the earth. In the mid-1800s, a man named George Hull decided to help that belief along. He and a business partner, H.B. Martin, hired a couple of sculptors to make a “giant corpse” from a 5-ton block of gypsum, then Mr. Hull used a darning needle to make hundreds of holes resembling pores in the gypsum. He then buried the “corpse” in a farm located in Cardiff, New York, and a year later he hired two workers to dig a well where the “corpse” was buried. Of course, they unearthed the “corpse,” and of course Mr. Hull made money exhibiting it. Even after Mr. Hull admitted that it was a fake, people still came to look at it. Even today, people come to look at the fake. In Cooperstown, New York, a popular exhibit of the New York State Historical Association is the “Cardiff Giant.”

According to Deuteronomy 24:19, if you reap your field and you forget a sheaf, you are not permitted to go back to your field and get it; instead, you have to leave it for the poor. A Hassid was conscientious in his life, and for many years he did not forget a sheaf in his field, but one harvest he forgot a sheaf and he rejoiced because he had the opportunity to obey a command of God. He told his son to prepare a great feast: to sacrifice one bull for a burnt-offering and another bull for a peace-offering. His son wondered why his father was so happy about forgetting a sheaf in his field, and the father told him, “All the other duties of the Torah come to us by paying attention, but this one comes to us by inattention. All the earnestness and good intentions in the world will not bring us the merit of this deed, only a moment of forgetfulness.”

During her rule, Queen Mary I of England persecuted the Protestants. Benjamin Franklin’s great-great-grandfather was a Protestant under her rule, but he continued to read the Bible even when doing so was forbidden. He kept the Bible strapped underneath a covered stool, and when he wanted to read it, he stationed one of his children to serve as a lookout, then he turned the stool over. Whenever the child said that an officer of the crown was coming near, Benjamin Franklin’s great-great-grandfather would immediately hide the evidence of his Bible reading by turning the stool right-side up.

Harry Smith, a line coach at the University of Missouri, was desperate for a win after three straight losses (and was under pressure from the alumni), so he made a vigorous speech to his linesmen, telling them, “You’re letting the other team shove you all over the field. You’ve got to beat them to the charge, and when you hit them, try to knock them into the stands. Remember, the good book says, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’” A linesman objected, “I was taught that the Bible said, ‘Love thy enemies.’” Mr. Smith replied, “That’s what it used to say—the alumni changed it.”

Preacher Will D. Campbell does not suffer fools gladly. He once met an up-and-coming Southern Baptist, with whom he discussed a proposed expansion of the federal death penalty. Mr. Campbell asked him, “You do believe in the Commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ don’t you?” The man replied that he did. Mr. Campbell then asked him, “Surely you are opposed to this death penalty expansion?” The man replied, “Absolutely not. We sent a letter to the White House in support.” Mr. Campbell then told the man, “You are a hypocrite and a jackass.”

“What is the point of the Genesis story of creation? What was the author trying to say? Well, the Bible intended to give a religious lesson, not a science lesson. The seven-day story of creation is just a way of making the point: God created the universe with wisdom, care and order. If science determines that the universe actually evolved over millions and millions of years, there is no conflict with the Bible.” — Daniel A. Helminiak, Ph.D. and Roman Catholic priest, What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality.

In The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, young Tom wins tickets each Sunday by reciting a few Bible verses — the tickets, when numerous enough, can be exchanged for a plainly bound Bible. Mark Twain’s Sunday school had the same system except that the tickets entitled a child to borrow a religious book from the Church library. In his later years, Mr. Twain claimed that he won his tickets by reciting the same five Bible verses each week.

Many of us read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, in which the Pharisee says, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as that publican [tax collector]. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I possess.” Unfortunately, when many of us read this, we think, “Thank God that I am not as that Pharisee.”

A homophobe once said to lesbian comedian Judy Carter, “You can’t be gay and be a Christian.” She replied, “I must have a misprint in my Bible. It doesn’t say, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, except homosexuals, should not perish but have everlasting life.’”

Ellen C. Waller, a Quaker, asked the children in her class to check and make sure that they had the Revised Version of the Bible, from which she was teaching. One child said that she had the wrong version of the Bible, because it wasn’t “Revised” — it was “Holy.”

Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts could be immensely insulting when speaking about Ulysses S. Grant, who once said about him, “The reason Sumner doesn’t believe in the Bible is because he didn’t write it himself.”

“It’s still a mystery to me how godly people can tithe their income, give to the poor, read the Bible, pray, love folks, and let God run every fiber of their being except how they treat black people.” — Jerry Clower.

***

Edgar Lee Masters: Doc Hill (Spoon River Anthology)

I WENT UP and down the streets
Here and there by day and night,
Through all hours of the night caring for the poor who were sick.
Do you know why?
My wife hated me, my son went to the dogs.
And I turned to the people and poured out my love to them.
Sweet it was to see the crowds about the lawns on the day of my funeral,
And hear them murmur their love and sorrow.
But oh, dear God, my soul trembled, scarcely able
To hold to the railing of the new life
When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree
At the grave,
Hiding herself, and her grief!

***