Saturday, September 15, 2012


MARCH 2002:   At the airport gate in Newark last Tuesday, a couple of young men seemed more vigorous than me, and I sighed. Among them a young blond man had his hair dusted purple.

As the plane approached London, it was announced that Alain Baxter, Britain’s first ski medalist, was aboard. The passengers applauded.

At the hotel I saw on TV that Alain Baxter was the purple-haired blond. He grinned in achievement. He was the hero of all Britain. Back in Scotland, there were parades.

Today’s headline in the Guardian: “Taste of success turns sour for our first Olympic ski medalist.” Baxter has tested positive for drugs, for methamphetamines. The color photo of the Olympian with the purple blond hair shows him biting his bronze medal.

As Rochester writes, translating Seneca: “Devouring time swallows us whole.” Rochester writes well on Nothing. “After death nothing is….”

London is more like Ancient Rome, Paris like Ancient Athens. New York is more like London. New York is a university, Paris is a museum, and London’s rainy.

New York had the Twin Towers but London has the Tower.


You ladies of merry England
Who have been to kiss the Duchess's hand,
Pray, did you not lately observe in the show
A noble Italian called Signior Dildo?

This signior was one of the Duchess's train
And helped to conduct her over the main
But now she cries out, 'To the Duke I will go,
I have no more need for Signior Dildo.'

At the Sign of the Cross in St James's Street,
When next you go thither to make yourselves sweet
By buying of powder, gloves, essence, or so,
You may chance to get a sight of Signior Dildo.

You would take him at first for no person of note,
Because he appears in a plain leather coat,
But when you his virtuous abilities know,
You'll fall down and worship Signior Dildo.

My Lady Southesk, heaven prosper her for't,
First clothed him in satin, then brought him to court
But his head in the circle he scarcely durst show,
So modest a youth was Signior Dildo.

The good Lady Suffolk, thinking no harm,
Had got this poor stranger hid under her arm.
Lady Betty by chance came the secret to know
And from her own mother stole Signior Dildo.

The Countess of Falmouth, of whom people tell
Her footmen wear shirts of a guinea an ell,
Might save that expense, if she did but know
How lusty a swinger is Signior Dildo.

By the help of this gallant the Countess of Rafe
Against the fierce Harris preserved herself safe
She stifled him almost beneath her pillow,
So closely she embraced Signior Dildo.

The pattern of virtue, Her Grace of Cleveland,
Has swallowed more pricks than the ocean has sand
But by rubbing and scrubbing so wide does it grow,
It is fit for just nothing but Signior Dildo.

Our dainty fine duchesses have got a trick
To dote on a fool for the sake of his prick,
The fops were undone did their graces but know
The discretion and vigour of Signior Dildo.

The Duchess of Modena, though she looks so high,
With such a gallant is content to lie,
And for fear that the English her secrets should know,
For her gentleman usher took Signior Dildo.

The Countess o'th'Cockpit (who knows not her name?
She's famous in story for a killing dame),
When all her old lovers forsake her, I trow,
She'll then be contented with Signior Dildo.

Red Howard, red Sheldon, and Temple so tall
Complain of his absence so long from Whitehall.
Signior Barnard has promised a journey to go
And bring back his countryman, Signior Dildo.

Doll Howard no longer with His Highness must range,
And therefore is proferred this civil exchange:
Her teeth being rotten, she smells best below,
And needs must be fitted for Signior Dildo.

St Albans with wrinkles and smiles in his face,
Whose kindness to strangers becomes his high place,
In his coach and six horses is gone to Bergo
To take the fresh air with Signior Dildo.

Were this signior but known to the citizen fops,
He'd keep their fine wives from the foremen o'their shops
But the rascals deserve their horns should still grow
For burning the Pope and his nephew, Dildo.

Tom Killigrew's wife, that Holland fine flower,
At the sight of this signior did fart and belch sour,
And her Dutch breeding the further to show,
Says, 'Welcome to England, Mynheer Van Dildo.'

He civilly came to the Cockpit one night,
And proferred his service to fair Madam Knight.
Quoth she, 'I intrigue with Captain Cazzo
Your nose in mine arse, good Signior Dildo.'

This signior is sound, safe, ready, and dumb
As ever was candle, carrot, or thumb
Then away with these nasty devices, and show
How you rate the just merit of Signior Dildo.

Count Cazzo, who carries his nose very high,
In passion he swore his rival should die
Then shut himself up to let the world know
Flesh and blood could not bear it from Signior Dildo.

A rabble of pricks who were welcome before,
Now finding the porter denied them the door,
Maliciously waited his coming below
And inhumanly fell on Signior Dildo.

Nigh wearied out, the poor stranger did fly,
And along the Pall Mall they followed full cry
The women concerne`d from every window
Cried, 'For heaven's sake, save Signior Dildo.'

The good Lady Sandys burst into a laughter
To see how the ballocks came wobbling after,
And had not their weight retarded the foe,
Indeed't had gone hard with Signior Dildo.

Before he played the Lone Ranger, Johnny Depp starred in The Libertine as the author of Signior Dildo:

Shakespeare used a dildo in Winter's Tale eighty years before Signior Dildo. Pfeff Parry drew our cartoon dildo. "This one," she says, "is medical-grade silicone, fully submersible, and a fucking hot pink cartoon character."

The train from London to Canterbury stops in Rochester. Until that moment I presumed Rochester Minnesota was named after Rochester New York and that this upstate Rochester was the “original.” In Canterbury I bought The Works of the Earl of Rochester. Despite three degrees in English and Comparative Literature, I had never read a line of Rochester. Apparently we were being shielded. Johnny Depp is not alone in his admiration.

The Elizabethan Age was the Golden Age of Poetry. Christopher Marlowe of Canterbury was a poet of the Golden Age. Alexander Pope and the poets of the early 18th century are called the Augustans; they are the poets of the Silver Age. Was the Restoration Bronze? Some might say the Restoration was Brass. Would Charles II wear a continental bronze tan, an Italian bronzer? Or was bronzer invented more recently on Miami Beach?  But what Age comes in Fourth? And where are we in the literary Olympics? Also-rans and out-of-the-money?

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Blogger Michael Andre said...

DUC DAU: You probably know that I taught Rochester in a poetry course I developed. Signior Dildo was the first poem we looked at.

MARK WEISS: Milton's two Paradises and Samson were published very successfully during the Restoration, and there's also Dryden. Not a great period for graceful short lyrics, but a lot of really good stuff.

MICHAEL ANDRE: I have Pope's Iliad and read it beside the Greek. I read Dryden's Plutarch as if it were the original. Restoration comedy amuses me; Dryden's tragedies seem overwrought. Dryden also simplified Shakespeare, did he not? The Italian woman who married James in Signior Dildo of course led Dryden into the mistake of his life: Converting to Catholicism. They took religion seriously back then. Charles I is a good beheaded example.

MARK WEISS I was talking about Dryden the poet, but ok. He didn't simplify Shakespeare, he made him more complex (and less wonderful). His version of The Tempest is French farce--all of the characters have equivalents of the opposite sex, and there's a lot of sex. It's very very funny, but it aint Shakespeare, and it does feel like polluting holy ground. The tragedies are political as well as literary documents and I think have to be read as such. The Conquest of Granada is about how to accomodate an extraordinary man who doesn't happen to be king without causing the war of all against all. No more overwrought than Lear (not claiming equal quality), and similarly coming out of endless civil war.

MARK WEISS Take a look at Dryden's Chaucer, by the way. Pretty wonderful.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Michael Andre said...

MARK WEISS One's assessment of Dryden I think is beside my point, thus far unstated, anyway. Here it is: Poetry is called into different kinds of service at different times--what we mean by poetry also changes. The Elizabethans would be appalled by most of what we love among the moderns/postmoderns. We none of us speak from a god-like distance--our tastes are always contingent.

HALVARD JOHNSON :: And I thought that all those Rochesters were named after Jack Benny's valet.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Michael Andre said...

Re: It vibrates!

TO: Michael Andre

Those with imaginations don't tend to need them. But my research did unearth the following, very abbreviated, description of the device's many virtues. (This is an excerpt from Thomas Nashe's "Choice Valentines," surely one of the earliest--and pre-Winter's Talesian--"one handed" poems in the English language. The preceding 260 or so lines provide a vivid description of a night of love fraught with (for the male) performance anxiety and, shall we say, overuse syndrome. As the scene opens, milady has gotten rather frustrated (and note the appearance of "dildo" in lines 11 and 35):

That man nor beaste maie of their pleasance taste,
So shutts she up hir conduit all in haste,
And will not let hir Nectar ouer-flowe,
Least mortall men immortall ioyes should knowe.
Adiew unconstant loue, to thy disporte,
Adiew false mirth, and melodie too-short.
Adiew faint-hearted instrument of lust,
That falselie hast betrayde our equale trust.
Hence-forth no more will I implore thine ayde,
Or thee, or men of cowardize upbrayde.
My little dildo shall supply their kinde :
A knaue, that moues as light as leaues by winde ;
That bendeth not, nor fouldeth anie deale,
But stands as stiff, as he were made of steele,
And playes at peacock twixt my leggs right blythe,
And doeth my tickling swage with manie a sighe ;
For, by Saint Runnion he'le refresh me well,
And neuer make my tender bellie swell.
Poor Priapus, whose triumph now must falle,
Except thow thrust this weakeling to the walle.
Behould how he usurps in bed and bowre,
And undermine's thy kingdom euerie howre.
How slye he creepe's betwixt the barke and tree,
And sucks the sap, whilst sleepe detaineth thee.
He is my Mistris page at euerie stound,
And soone will tent a deepe intrenched wound.
He wayte's on Courtlie Nimphs, that be so coye,
And bids them skorne the blynd-alluring boye.
He giue's yong guirls their gamesom sustenance,
And euerie gaping mouth his full sufficeance.
He fortifies disdaine with forraine artes,
And wanton-chaste deludes all louing hearts.
If anie wight a cruell mistris serue's,
Or in dispaire (unhappie) pines and steru's
Curse Eunuke dilldo, senceless, counterfet,
Who sooth maie fill, but neuer can begett:
But if reuenge enraged with dispaire,
That such a dwarfe his wellfare should empaire,
Would faine this womans secretarie knowe,
Lett him attend the marks' that I shall showe.
He is a youth almost tuo handfulls highe,
Streight, round, and plumb, yett hauing but one eye,
Wherin the rhewme so feruentlie doeth raigne,
That Stigian gulph maie scarce his teares containe ;
Attired in white veluet or in silk,
And nourisht with whott water or with milk ;
Arm'd otherwhile in thick congealed glasse,
When he more glib to hell be lowe would passe,
Vpon a charriot of fiue wheeles he rydes,
The which an arme strong driuer stedfast guide's,
And often alters pace, as wayes grow deepe ;
(For who in pathe's unknowen, one gate can keepe?)
Sometimes he smoothlie slideth doune the hill ;
Another while the stones his feete doe kill :
In clammie waies he treaddeth by and by,
And plasheth and sprayeth all that be him nye.
So fares this iollie rider in his race,
Plunging, and soursing forward in lyke case,
Bedasht, bespurted, and beplodded foule,
God giue thee shame, thow blinde mischapen owle.
Fy - fy for grief ; a ladies chamberlaine,
And canst not thow thy tatling tongue refraine?
I reade thee beardles blab, beware of stripes,
And be aduised what thow vainelie pipes.
Thow wilt be whipt with nettles for this geare
If Cicelie shewe but of thy knauerie heere.
Saint Denis shield me from such female sprites.
Regarde not Dames, what Cupid's Poete writes.

So it seems you must repolish your blog yet again. I think I should probably stop researching this particular topic (but it is my nature to be as thorough as possible).


5:23 AM  

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