Jul. 26, 2013

A Monorhyme for the Shower

by Dick Davis

Lifting her arms to soap her hair
Her pretty breasts respond—and there
The movement of that buoyant pair
Is like a spell to make me swear
Twenty-odd years have turned to air;
Now she's the girl I didn't dare
Approach, ask out, much less declare
My love to, mired in young despair.

Childbearing, rows, domestic care—
All the prosaic wear and tear
That constitute the life we share—
Slip from her beautiful and bare
Bright body as, made half aware
Of my quick surreptitious stare,
She wrings the water from her hair
And turning smiles to see me there.

"A Monorhyme for the Shower" by Dick Davis, from Belonging. © Ohio University Press, 2002. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of writer Aldous Huxley, (books by this author) born in Surrey, England (1894). As a boy, he wanted to be a scientist like his grandfather, Thomas Henry Huxley. But when he was 17 years old, he contracted an eye disease that rendered him nearly blind, so he decided to become a writer. His first successful novel was Point Counter Point (1928), which was an extremely ambitious book, with numerous characters and a complex interweaving plot. Huxley decided that his next book would be something light. He had been reading some H.G. Wells and thought it would be interesting to try to write something about what the future might be like.

The result was Brave New World (1932), about a future in which most human beings are born in test-tube factories, genetically engineered to belong in one of five castes: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. There are no families; people have sex all the time and never fall in love, and they keep themselves happy by taking a drug called "soma."
Brave New World was one of the first novels to predict the future existence of genetic engineering, anti-depression medication, as well as virtual reality. When George Orwell's 1984 came out a few years later, many critics compared the two novels, trying to decide which one was more likely to come true. Huxley argued that his imagined future was more likely, because it would be easier to control people by keeping them happy than it would be by threatening them with violence.

It's the birthday of movie director Stanley Kubrick, born in New York City in 1928. His first big film was Spartacus in 1960. After that, Kubrick vowed never to make another film unless he had total artistic freedom — and he managed to keep that vow. His best-known films are Dr. Strangelove, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb; 2001: A Space Odyssey; A Clockwork Orange; and The Shining.

It's the birthday of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (books by this author), born in Dublin (1856). He's the author of dozens of plays, including Man and Superman (1905), Pygmalion (1912), and Saint Joan (1923). Shaw won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1925 and an Oscar in 1938 in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for the film Pygmalion. He's the only person in history to receive both the Nobel and an Oscar.

He's considered to be the greatest English-language dramatist after Shakespeare. Even before he had written a masterpiece, Shaw was announcing this very comparison to people, and adding that he did some things in playwriting even better than Shakespeare did. Shaw knew all of the plays he had written by memory. He was also a prolific music critic and literary critic, and he's highly quotable.

It's the birthday of humorist Jean Shepherd (books by this author), born in Chicago, Illinois (1925). He's remembered for the autobiographical stories he told on the radio about a boy named Ralph Parker growing up in Hohman, Indiana. One of his stories was made into the movie A Christmas Story (1983), which he narrated. It's about a boy who wants a BB gun for Christmas, even though every adult in his life says that he'll shoot his eye out.

The stories Shepherd told on-air were always improvised, but he later wrote them down and published them in collections like In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash (1967) and Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters (1972).

Jean Shepherd said: "Some men are Baptists, others Catholics. My father was an Oldsmobile man."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
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