Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hadrian & Antinous: Mystery & Love- Slave?

The name Antinous was given may have come from the Antinous that was the most handsome of the doomed suitors of Penelope-we will never know. The young man's ancestry, as far as immediate family and other blood than purely Hellenic flowing through his veins can only be guessed at and there is too much lost to history to give any kind of story. He most probably had some other genes in him than Greek. This could have come from the diverse nature of Bithynia and the many varieties of peoples that crossed through his homeland. What we do know from historical images of him is that his features were not purely Hellenic.

From Royston Lambert's, Beloved and God: "And indeed his features have elements which are obviously unclassical; the angle and bluntness of his nose, the breadth at its roots, the width of the face, the squatness of the neck, the thickness of the eyebrows and the indefinable curvature and protrusion of that 'pomegranate' mouth which many see as voluptuous."

There is only a tiny clue about his immediate family from the obelisk on the Pincio Hill in Rome. His mother's name is praised; there seems to be more about his family and birthplace where the granite is damaged, Hadrian had wrote the lines on this monument. Perhaps (this is another maybe to our story), Hadrian had known and liked the family of Antinous. From Beloved and God: "For what it is worth, this doubtful phrase might imply that Antinous came from a respectable family (otherwise Hadrian would have scarcely mentioned it) and was the first of perhaps several children, not an orphan or an abandoned waif as has sometimes been supposed."

Was Antinous a slave, as many historians and chroniclers from the early Christian era to the Renaissance and even after have said? Highly doubtful in my opinion. The denigration of the relationship and characters of Hadrian and Antinous began later in history after they passed from the stage. Much of the defamations seem to come from the viewpoint of homophobia. About only one in fifty scholars and scribes of ancient times describe Antinous as a slave. The thoughts about Antinous being a slave are suspicious in another very major respect. In ancient times the elevation of a slave to godhood would have been very unlikely. A slave was viewed as even worse than a catamite. Slaves did not even qualify for Hades, much less Olympus. Slaves were feared in ancient times if they tried to change their status, as this would threaten the whole social structure and order of those days. Certainly there would have been much outrage at the thought of a mere slave becoming a god that was to be worshipped by respectable free people.

Also wouldn't the many detractors of Hadrian, both pagan and Christian have seized this further opportunity to denounce him and defame his name? In all of the ancient references to Antinous he is called a slave in one extract given by Eusebius which was quoted by Jerome. Although when Jerome gives his own three independent views of Antinous he never mentions him as a slave. From Beloved and God: "Either these ancient critics did not know of the allegation (incredible if Antinous had been of servile status) or chose to deliberately ignore it because it was so obviously false that it was scarcely profitable to repeat it."

To me the charge that Antinous was a slave is absurd. Antinous may have even come from a family high on the social totem pole. The charge that Antinous was a slave seems to me to be coming from the viewpoint of homophobia, both from pagans and early Christian polemicists, and subsequently repeated through history-to the Renaissance and on to the time of Gibbons and beyond. In later posts I will also try to refute the charge that Antinous was a mere catamite to Hadrian and other charges. I have so enjoyed doing this set of posts and for someone who works at my speed these posts have been coming fast and furious. I will have to slow down in the future to do the story justice. Originally I didn't want to have too many other posts between the story, but I have found that in beating myself over the head trying to figure out what to include here and leave out I am rushing things for no good reason and it would be better to have higher information and quality rather than just trying to get the story done. I am already working on the next post for the series but it won't be here for a bit. I hope that this isn't off-putting to anyone that reads my blog. I am just not quick enough to give the story justice trying to get it all done at once. I hope folks will not mind other things being here with more frequency in between the saga of Hadrian and Antinous.

John Keats: Ode on a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvian historian. who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal-yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies.
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou are desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

I hadn't thought about doing another John Keats poem so soon. I knew this one would be difficult to type and thought it also fit into our tale here. I will definitely have more variety of poems and poets soon. The image is of the Pinciano Obelisk. It was commissioned by Hadrian and erected in Tivoli for the tomb of Antinous.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hadrian & Antinous: Mystery & Love-Defamations

"And such a one is the god Antinous, that was the emperor Hadrian's minion and the slave of his unlawful pleasure. A wretch that when worshipped in obedience to the Emperor's command, and to fear of his vengeance, knew and confessed to be a man, and not a good deserving man neither, but a sordid and loathsome instrument of his master's lust. This shameless and scandalous boy died in Egypt when the court was there; and forthwith his Imperial majesty issued out an order or edict strictly requiring and commanding his loving subjects to acknowledge his departed page a deity and to pay him his quota of of divine reverences and honours as such; a resolution and act which did more effectually publish and testify to the world how entirely the Emperor's unnatural passion survived the foul object of it; and how much his master was devoted to memory, than it recorded his own crime and condemnation, immortalized his infamy and shame, and bequeathed to mankind a lasting and notorious specimen of the true origin and extraction of all idolatry." St. Athanasius 350 A.D.

At the first Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., Athanasius argued against Arius and his doctrine that Christ is of a distict substance from the Father. He is revered as a saint by the Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches.

Next we go to the famous historian Edward Gibbons, from his The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: "The deification of Antinous, his medals, medals, statues, city, oracles and constellation are well known, and still dishonor the memory of Hadrian. Yet we may remark that of the first fifteen emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct."

As we can see the relationship between Antinous and Hadrian has had many detractors down through the centuries. I hope to refute many of their claims in the next set of posts. I just wanted to give a little background to how their relationship was viewed by the early Christian church, pagans and other historians. Much of the claims against Hadrian and Antinous were entirely false -at least I hope I can get you to agree with me with the evidence I will provide. You will have to make up your own mind ,as to whether you agree with me that there was much beauty and mystery in their relationship also. The next post about Antinous and the refutation of a particular charge against him is largely done and I hope to have it here tomorrow unless other issues prevent me from posting it.

Hadrian & Antinous: Mystery & Love-Bithynia

The only set of dates we can surmise from history for the birth of Antinous are between the years 110 A.D. and 112 A.D. He was probably born in the month of November on the 27th. Antinous was born in Bithynia. In the year 74 A.D. the last king of Bithynia, Nikomedes IV had bequeathed his country to Rome. This happened during the time that Rome was absorbing the Hellenistic world. Rome made Bithynia into a province (approximately the size of modern Denmark), governed by a proconsul appointed by the Senate. In 64 B.C., Pompey had reorganized the system of Greek government and established twelve city-states. The civil wars of the late Roman republic wreaked havoc upon Greek soil and were financed by Greek resources. In the end the victory of Rome and Octavian over the Hellenistic east and Mark Antony happened at Actium in 31 B.C.

The Roman emperors were attracted to Bithynia for the main reason that it was equidistant from the two most vulnerable frontiers of the Empire in the late first century. The frontiers were the Euphrates to the south-east and the Danube to the north. If the Empire could hold the Cilician gates and the borderlands of the Propontis it could keep its power over the territories it had conquered and hold back incursions from hostile forces. Bithynia was quite literally a bridge culturally and geographically between Rome and Greece, between east and west, and between temperate Europe and the heat stricken orient.

The culture that Antinous was born into was quite varied. Bithynian cities were the origen of some major contributors to classical civilization: Dio, the rhetor of Prusa; Arrian the historian and Quirinus the sophist of Nikomedia, and later Dio Cassius the historian of Nicea. The rural people were never integrated into the classical city-culture of ancient Greece and retained their ancient eastern beliefs and dialects. Ancient eastern beliefs persisted, even if they disguised themselves in the orthodox Olympian deities. These beliefs grew more powerful as the old pantheon of gods were eclipsed by the eastern gods of mystery. Dionysos, who locals believed had been born in the Sangarius river and Demeter were both deities of renewal, fertility and ecstasy. These deities were to play a role in the destiny of Antinous. The ancient themes for the reverence for natural forces and the practice of secret mysteries and actual participation in those mysteries, are perhaps the belief system Antinous was reared in-rather than the observance of the cults of the anthropomorphic deities of Olympus.

Antinous was said to have been born in Claudiopolis in what is now north-west Turkey. Its acropolis was near a river in the midst of a beautiful plain. On these pastures grazed the cattle that produced the famous Salonian cheese, described by Strabo. The city ranked about eighth among the cities of Bithynia. Claudiopolis must have been a nice place to grow up in. It had none of the hustle and bustle of other crowded cities of the day and was quite pastoral in some respects. It had a flowing river, fresh mountain air and bountiful green meadows and pastures. A nice balance of rural and urban influences for a young man to experience growing up.

Claudiopolis literally stood along a great highway built in the 70s and 80s of the first century. The traffic-military, trade and agricultural increased year after year. It was crossed by people of great importance and those whose lives were much more mundane. The traffic between the east and the west along this great highway might have held a fascination for the young Antinous.
From Royston Lambert's, Beloved and God: "And there was always the incessant life of that great road-flowing faster than the river with a stream of people, commercial and military, eastern and western, magnificent and humdrum-to excite and intrigue. Indeed, that road was an ever-inviting open question: who knew who might pass this way next? "

I hope you enjoyed the introduction to some of the background and history of the area of the world that Antinous was born into. I wanted to do this post before getting into the actual relationship of Hadrian and Antinous and how they might have met and other things known and things we can only guess at about this story that has always held a deep interest for me. I do not know the time-frame of the next post in this series-hopefully within a week-maybe days depending on how my health is holding up. In the meantime I want to post more poetry and an example of my writing-how I start a very rough sketch of streaming conciosuness writing. I hope these words find any readers I may have in great spirits and enjoying life.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

John Keats: Endymion -First Stanza

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
' Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

I thought this stanza by John Keats fit our story here-what do you think. I hope to have much more poetry to accentuate our story. Extra credit goes to whoever can tell me which album cover the Henri Fantin-Latour painting is on-it is called 'A Basket of Roses'.
John Keats (1795-1821) lived only 25 years. Yet his poetic achievement is extraordinary. Most of his major poems were written between his twenty-third and twenty-fourth years. In this brief period he wrote poems that rank him as one of the great English poets. He also wrote letters which T.S. Eliot calls "the most notable and the most important ever written by any English poet."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hadrian & Antinous: Mystery & Love- The Succession Pt.2

Publius Aelius Hadrianus: Born 24 January 76 A.D., Died 10 July 138
Age of 41 on becoming Emperor. Reigned from 117-138 A.D.

Our friend, Acilius Attianus, (or Hadrian's I should say) returns in this final post on the succession. Hadrian was still insecure about the security of his promotion to Emperor. Using Attianus, who with Plotina had hastened back to Rome with Trajan's ashes, Hadrian got rid of a powerful enemy, Lusius Quietus, a Moorish general, along with three other of the most honored and and elite generals and statesmen of Trajan's reign. Attianus had alleged the four were plotting Hadrian's assassination. Attianus was Prefect of the Guard and bullied the Senate into executing these men. The four men were undoubtedly unenthusiastic about Hadrian's reign, but there was no organized opposition to him and the truth of the charges in is doubt. Hadrian denied complicity in the deaths of the four consulars, but the Senate, behind its meek compliance never forgot or forgave him.

Before returning to Rome, Hadrian had to deal with the unrestful situation along the Danube frontier. This he accomplished with a combination of military action and diplomacy by way of bribery. He finally entered Rome on 9 July 118.

To help his unsettled relations with the Senate, he apologized for accepting the army's acclamation and not the Senate's selection as his power base. He also promised never again to punish any of its members without its consent (Why we wonder, if he had nothing to do with the previous deaths mentioned?). To soothe Rome's unrestful population he distributed a huge largesse of gold and also remitted debts to the Treasury to the enormous amount of 900 million sesterces (modern tax rebates and economic stimulus checks anyone?)- who says the United States has nothing in common with old Rome. In this series of posts I hope to bring out these similarites and would appreciate any reader's comments on this matter. The tax returns were burnt in a huge bonfire in Trajan's forum. From Royston Lambert's, Beloved and God: " It was a strange and disconcerting beginning for one who had waited so long and detrimentally to himself for his inheritance. Bloodshed, tax bonfires and massive bribery ushered in the 'times of felicity', advertised so proudly on the first coins of the reign bearing the slogans 'concord', 'peace, 'justice' and 'piety'." I have very much enjoyed Beloved and God-the book gave me the idea for this set of posts. I have the book out from the library now, but would like to order it from Amazon or a site that sells older books online-Beloved and God was published in 1984 by Viking.

Once he was Emperor, Hadrian acted very quickly on several matters. He immediately relinquished control of Roman conquests east of the Tigris and Euphrates. He gave a double sized donation of money and friends who were in control of twenty-one Roman Legions. He used Marcius Turbo, a very capable soldier, but who was only of equestrian rank and others to crush Jewish revolts in Palestine, Egypt, Mauretania, Libya and Cyprus.

This is the last post involving Hadrian's succession. The next posts in this series will be about Antinous and then Hadrian's relationship with Antinous. I hope to have these up in 4-6 days. It really is a great story. I do hope to have some fitting poetry here perhaps tonight or tomorrow depending on what I can find. I have been searching the web and books from the library for prose that fits this set of posts and don't know if I have found what I want here yet. I am still deciding if I should do any off-topic posts between this series-a lot may depend on how fast I can condense and bring out the important facts and mysteries of this story. Thanks so much for bearing with me and for people about to enjoy Thanksgiving my best wishes go out to you and your families and of course to any other readers I have who do not celebrate this holiday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hadrian & Antinous: Mystery & Love- The Succession

I am indebted to Royston Lambert's wonderful book, Beloved and God, for much of the information and ideas for this series of posts.
When Hadrian became emperor after Trajan's death in 117 A.D., the Roman Empire was at its height as far as the physical extent of the empire and its power over other nations. Part of the genius of the Roman Empire was the integration as opposed to subjugation of many, but not all of the peoples it conquered. Trajan himself had been born into a non-patrician family in the Hispania Baetica province in what would be modern day Spain. Vast works of engineering connected Rome to its far flung provinces. Some Roman roads are still in use today. Technology for brining water into cities had been developed in the east, but was transformed by the Romans into a technology inconceivable elsewhere. The Romans were known for their vast engineering accomplishments and even though some were improvements over existing ideas, their accomplishments surpassed most other civilizations of the time. Many Roman structures have withstood the test of time and were an inspiration to others, especially during the Renaissance.
This was the enormous, wealthy and proud empire Hadrian inherited from Trajan.

Hadrian was not adopted by Trajan to be the next emperor in a vacuum (although there are some questions regarding this as we shall see.) Fatherless at the age of ten, Hadrian became the ward of two other important men from Italica in Rome. Acilius Attianus was a knight, who later played a crucial part in Hadrian's accession. Trajan and his wife Plotina were a much more important influence on Hadrian's character. Trajan was the cousin of Hadrian's father and was 22 years older. Trajan's father and Hadrian's paternal grandmother were brother and sister. Plotina was born in Neumauses -modern day Nimes, France. She was a devoted follower of the Epicurean school of philosophy. Plotina is thought to have influenced Trajan to provide for fairer taxation for Romans, improved education, assisted the poor and helped to create tolerance in Roman society.

Trajan was childless and Hadrian was the nearest male relative. Hadrian married Sabina in 100 A.D.-she was between 12 to 14 years old at the time. Sabina was Trajan's great niece and his nearest unmarried female relative. This was a move to secure the succession for Hadrian and it was Plotina who persuaded the reluctant Trajan to agree to this vital marriage. Even after this there was a major problem. Trajan never openly acknowledged Hadrian as his successor. Hadrian did not rise more quickly through his official career than other men. He held the usual magistracies in Rome and military tribunates in Germany and on the Danube in 95-96 A.D. He was Trajan's quaestor to the Senate in 101, tribune of the plebs in 105. He was a commander in the Dacian war of 105-6, a strict governor of Pannonia in 107 and consul in 108 A.D. There were occasions when Trajan did seem to openly favor him, he rewarded Hadrian's military victories with the same diamond ring he had received from Nerva. The people of Athens also saw Hadrian as the official heir-they elected him archon or chief magistrate in 112.

There were a few different reasons Trajan may have been reluctant to bring himself to openly acknowledge Hadrian as his successor. The two men were greatly different in nature, even though historians see many similarities in the policies of their reigns. Trajan's personality was that of a direct, open and honest man, some believed he looked stupid although this obviously was not the case. Hadrian was just the opposite. He took delight in his own appearance and was quite the dandy. Hadrian sported a well groomed, short beard and was the first emperor to do so- all of his successors followed this trend. He was taller than average and had fair skin. His grey-blue eyes were close set and his most memorable features apart from his prominent cheeks and strong nose were his eyes and mouth. Hadrian had a strong build. Hadrian was no intellectual, but he was friends with some of the most civilized men of his day and he endowed Rome with an excellent library. Here is a direct quote from Beloved and God: "But if the replies from Pliny's endless requests from Bithynia are his, or even reflect his opinions, he is revealed as a man of considerable wisdom, patience, and sensitivity, scrupulous of the rights of individuals and localities, though with perhaps an amused contempt for 'those poor Greeks', and lacking in curiosity."

Hadrian did share one trait with Trajan. That trait being the love of boys and beautiful young men, and this perhaps brought them into conflict at times. Whatever the causes of their conflicts in relation to one another it is obvious it went from so hot that it had sexual overtones. At times there was open hostility promoted by the jealous Servianus. Plotina again came to the rescue and got Hadrian the legateship of Syria in the Parthian war.

Trajan died in Cilicia after suffering a stroke while hurrying back to Rome. Trajan's stroke occurred after his disastrous campaign in Parthia to confront dissent within the Empire. Hadrian had been in Antioch at the time in charge of the army of the east. He received letters of his adoption as heir on 9 August 117 A.D. and news of Trajan's death on the 11th. It has been rumored for centuries that Plotina had forged the letters and kept news of her husband's death quiet for days so that they could be delivered. Plotina was a very resourceful and intelligent woman and there is no doubt she did whatever she could do to help Hadrian in this crisis. It was even rumored that she poisoned her husband's valet who knew too much. It was also rumored that she hired an actor after Trajan's death, to impersonate him. This of course being done to adopt Hadrian and confirm the succession. Whatever actions Plotina did or didn't take-maybe they only confirmed her husbands intentions-maybe not. This is one of the many reasons I find this story so fascinating. There are so many twists and turns and complete mysteries that we can only guess at-but we can make educated guesses.

Dear reader, I hope you have enjoyed this set of posts. I need to take some time off and confirm where I want to go with this story next. The next installment should be a week from now at the latest. In the meantime I am going to try to find one or two poems that would accentuate this story and post them before the next Hadrian and Antinous post. I am also waiting on one or two bits of news that I will post here if they happen before then. I also had some off-topic thoughts I was going to post about the roles we play in our day to day lives and what they reveal about our inner nature and the human heart-this after a row with my on again off again boyfriend-but I haven't decided to do this yet as I don't want to stray to far from the current topic. Peace and blessings be to you all. Hope to see you at MFM soon. Please feel free to comment-I love getting comments-I will post pretty much anything as long as it isn't hate mail-I also enjoy constructive critcism and if there are any details or facts I have got wrong-or even just the way I write-please comment.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hadrian & Antinous: Mystery & Love Intro Post

I would like to do several posts about the Roman emperor Hadrian and his relationship with the Greek youth, Antinous. The reasons for this are many. I have always been fascinated by Roman history and find the time of the "Five Good Emperors" particularly interesting. This period started with Nerva (96-98 A.D.) and ended with Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A.D.); with the reigns of Trajan (98-117 A.D.), Hadrian (117-138 A.D.) and Antoninus Pius (138-161 A.D) in between. The political and cultural aspects of this era interest me and I hope will interest people who read my blog.
The main reason I would like to do this set of posts, however, is the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous itself. Was this relationship one of the great love affairs of history that still echo down the corridors of time? Why did Hadrian, who was regarded as one of the most level headed of the Roman rulers become so deeply obsessed and enamored of the young man? Was the death of Antinous in 130 A.D. a murder, suicide, accidental drowning or an intentional act of self-sacrifice to extend the life and glorify the rule of his powerful lover and patron? How and why did Antinous after his death become the god of a cult that resonated deeply with people of the time and spread like wildfire across the Mediterranean world. The cult of Antinous the god evoked a creative and artistic response and endured for many years. To provide a backdrop of the history of the times I will give a couple of quotes from two famous men.

From Edward Gibbons in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: If a man were called to fix a period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus. The vast extent of the Roman Empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of virtue and wisdom. The armies were restrained by the firm but gentle hand of four successive emperors, whose characters and authority commanded respect. The forms of the civil administration were carefully preserved by Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian and the Antonines, who delighted in the image of liberty, and were pleased with considering themselves as the accountable ministers of the laws. Such princes deserved the honour of restoring the republic had the Romans of their days been capable of enjoying a rational freedom.

Machiavelli said these emperors through "good" rule, earned the respect of those around them:
Titus, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus and Marcus had no need of praetorian cohorts, or of countless legions to guard them, but were defended by their own good lives, the good-will of their subjects, and the attachment of the Senate.

I should make note before ending this post that not all historians agree with Gibbons or Machiavelli. Machiavelli had noted that the period of the "Five good emperors" was notable for peaceful transfers of power, through the adoption of the new emperor by the old emperor, but as we shall see with Hadrian's rise to power after Trajan, perhaps there was a bit of skullduggery in the background. This is what fascinates me about studies of history; history is written with the bias of the person writing about it-some can block personal bias better than others, but I don't believe any of them can block their personal feelings toward the subject under consideration one hundred percent. And the thing that fascinates me most about history is that it is never "quite as advertised" there are always surprises and new viewpoints and discoveries to be made.

I do not know how many posts this series will run to. I will try to do beautiful bits of poetry and other odds and ends between these posts to prevent boredom with the subject-although I hope you, dear reader, will find this story as interesting and mysterious as I did! I just like to keep a surprise around the corner sometimes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

John Fitzgerald Kennedy: A Great American

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth,

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden back.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads onto way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I-
I took the one less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference.

------Robert Frost--------

Tomorrow is the 45th anniversary of JFK's vicious murder. My thoughts go out to the surviving members of the Kennedy clan, who have gracefully endured the traumas and awful slanders of the last years. I am thinking also, about how America would be a better and brighter place had JFK lived.

Robert Frost 1874-1963 : A Great American Poet

This post is a preface to my next post. I chose the words of Robert Frost for very specific reasons to add to my next post. The first being that he is a great poet and lives on in the hearts and minds of many people around the world. The second set of reasons is that he spoke at the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Originally he had written a poem called "Dedication" to read, but due to the sun's glare he could not read his words and with quick thinking read "The Gift Outright" which he had written in 1942 and touched many people's hearts that day. Robert Frost had predicted the election of JFK to the presidency in March 1959. He died shortly after midnight on January 29, 1963. I would like all of the folks who come by here and read my blog to think of the reason I chose the specific poem I did for my next post.
Often, I am rightly accused of being overly emotional and I am already getting teary eyed thinking of the next post. I hope people will understand why I chose the poem I did for my John F. Kennedy remembrance post. There are many times I fall into an emotional abyss thinking of our nation going from JFK to the later leaders we have had. John Kennedy was not perfect-none of us are, but I think he was the last President of the United States to always have America's best interests at heart in his decision making. He was a real man and a world class statesman. I was not even born yet during the Camelot years, but I get emotional looking at photos of JFK and Jacqueline and his beautiful family. I always think of the America that might have been, as opposed to the place our nation has become. Two roads- I think we wound up on the wrong one starting right after the despicable cowards and thugs murdered our last great president.

Linda Matos- Jazz, Pop and Soul Vocals

I am honored to have permission from this beautiful and talented woman to provide a link that will guide you to her website and you tube channel. I love her music and I often listen to several of her videos on you tube before going to bed at night. Her music and voice really put me in a great mood even if I have had a trying day. Here is the link and I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In Paths Untrodden: Walt Whitman

Credit goes to my mother for this. Working on many things right now hope to be back soon.

In paths untrodden,
In the growth by margins of pond waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto publish'd. from the pleasures,
profits, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my soul,
Clear to me now standards not yet publish'd, clear to me that my soul,
That the soul of the man I speak for rejoices in comrades,
Here by myself away from the clank of the world.
Tallying and talk'd to here by tongues aromatic
No longer abash'd (for in this secluded spot I can respond
as I would not dare elsewhere.)
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest,
Resolv'd to sing no songs to-day, but those of manly attachment,
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing hence types of athletic love,
Afternoon this delicious Ninth-month in my forty-first year,
I proceed for all who are or have been young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Anne Sexton:Love Letter Written in a Burning Building

Dearest Foxxy,

I am in a crate,
the crate that was ours,
full of white shirts and salad greens,
the icebox knocking at our delectable knocks,
and I wore movies in my eyes,
and you wore eggs in your tunnel,
and we played sheets, sheets, sheets
all day, even in the bathtub like lunatics.
But today I set the bed afire
and smoke is filling the room,
it is getting hot enough for the walls to melt,
and the icebox a gluey white tooth.

I have on a mask to write my last words,
and they are just for you, and I will place them
in the icebox saved for vodka and tomatoes,
and perhaps they will last.
The dog will not. Her spots will fall off.
The old letters will melt into a black bee.
The nightgowns are already shredding
into paper, the yellow, the red, the purple.
The bed-well, the sheets have turned to gold-
hard, hard gold, and the mattress
is being kissed into a stone.

As for me, my dearest Foxxy,
my poems to you may or may not reach the icebox
and its hopeful eternity,
for isn't yours enough?
The one where you name
my name right out in P.R.?
If my toes weren't yielding to pitch
I'd tell the whole story-
not just the sheet story
but the belly-button story,
the pried-eyelid story
the whiskey-sour-of-the-nipple story-
and shovel back our love where it belonged.

Despite my asbestos gloves,
the cough is filling me with black,
and a red powder seeps through my veins,
our little crate goes down so publicly
and without meaning it, you see,
meaning a solo act,
a cremation of the love,
but instead we seem to be going down
right in the middle of a Russian street,
the flames making the sound of
the horse being beaten and beaten,
the whip is adoring its human triumph
while the flies wait, blow by blow,
straight from United Fruit, Inc.

September 27, 1974

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

William Blake: A Divine Image

Cruelty has a Human Heart
And Jealousy a Human Face
Terror, the Human Form Divine
And Secrecy, the Human Dress

The Human Dress, is forged Iron
The Human Form, a fiery Forge.
The Human Face, a Furnace seal'd
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge

a poem by ee cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and its you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder thats keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Anne Sexton: A tribute

A you tube user uploaded a beautiful tribute to Anne Sexton. I thought I would share it.( ps more Blake coming very soon) Hope you enjoy.

Franz Wright The Only Animal

This poem caused deep emotions to stir in me when I first encountered it in 2004. I am having some health issues again and my brain is working very slow. I wanted to post something today. I hope any readers I have or may have in the future will enjoy this.

The only animal that commits suicide
went for a walk in the park
basked on a hard bench
in the first star
travelled to the edge of space
in an armchair
while company quietly
talked, and abruptly
the room empty

The only animal that cries
that takes off its clothes
and reports to the mirror, the one
and only animal
that brushes its own teeth


the only animal that smokes a cigarette
that lies down and flies backward in
that rises and walks to a book
and looks up a word
heard a telephone ringing
in the darkness downstairs and decided
to answer no more

And I understand
too well; how many times
have I made the decision to dwell
from now on
in the hour of my death

(the space I took up here scarlessly
closing like water)
and said I'm never coming back,
and yet

This morning
I stood once again
in this world, the garden
ark and vacant
tomb of what
I can't imagine
between twin eternities,
some sort of wings,
more or less equidistantly
exiled from both,
hovering in the dreaming called
being awake, where
you gave me
in secret one thing
to perceive, the
tall blue starry
strangeness of being
here at all.
You gave us each in secret one thing to

Furless now, upright, my banished
and experimental

You said, though your own heart
condemn you
I do not condemn you.

--------Franz Wright-------

Monday, November 17, 2008

William Blake Laughing Song

This blog is still very much under construction. I had two different ideas for posts this evening and I just could not get my thoughts to congeal. So again I will leave you with the immortal prose of William Blake. At my blog I hope to be posting poetry and prose from many different authors from the ancient to the modern, William Blake just happens to be one of my favorites. Hopefully a more content heavy post will be coming in a few days.

When the green woods laugh, with the voice of joy
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by,
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.

When the meadows laugh with lively green
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing Ha, Ha, He.

When the painted birds laugh in the shade
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread,
Come live & be merry and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of Ha, Ha, He.

The incredible Bruce Cockburn-Call It Democracy

I really like this guy and his music. I will leave you with this video while I contemplate my next post. It may be up tonight. I don't know yet. The lyrics to this song are superb and describe how
I feel about the people who really run this world.

Starting the day with William Blake

Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
could frame thy fearful symmetry

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings did he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread dread hand and dread feet

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dead grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
and water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did He who make the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jeff Wells and Rigorous Intuition

I will also do posts about the bloggers I follow-there are many. I thought Jeff at Rigorous Intuition-address deserved a post about his blog. Calling Rigourous Intuition a conspiracy blog would be insulting in a way. This blog and the discussion forum that comes with it cover an incredibly wide array of topics. Everything from conspiracy discussion, geopolitics, world finance, philosophy, literature, spirituality, music, movies, paranormal and fortean topics; really everything from the profane to the sacred is talked about over there. There are also wonderful images posted at that place. I love the images Jeff comes up with to accompany his posts-they are fascinating in themselves.

I began reading Rigorous Intuition in 2004 and it is my favorite place on the internet. Jeff Wells has a way of taking his readers to places that are pretty scary and wild, but after he takes you there you always end up thinking about them for a long time. I also love the way Jeff presents his information and ideas. He lets you know which ones are just plain facts, however terrifying and unreal they may seem, and which ones are speculation. When Jeff posts he always has valuable links in the post and wonderful quotes. I never would have opened my eyes and mind to the realities of deep state politics had it not been for his blog and discussion forum. Every now and then Jeff does a wonderful post about the paranormal and the fortean, these have been some of my favorite posts-although with someone like Mr.Wells it is very hard to pick favorites.
Many people who post on the disussion forum at his site are some of the most unique, intelligent and interesting people I have ever met (though it be in digi-space) whether you agree with their points of view or not.
Jeff has also authored two books one of which is on its way to me and I am just salivating to get my hands on and one of which I have read called Anxious Gravity. Anxious Gravity is a wonderful book and is available through Amazon and other places-a right and proper review of this book is coming on my site-highly recommended by yours truly and over the course of my life I have read thousands of fiction and non-fiction books. I will also be doing posts about other wonderful books I have read here. How important is Rigorous Intuitition to me-the only way I can put it is that being unemployed and having almost no income to speak of I try to donate to the site when I can. I was receiving SSI benefits for awhile but was cut off and I now have a lawyer for my case-so you betcha, I am pretty poor (money wise). My admiration for Jeff and his wonderful blog are very, very high. Thanks again Jeff for all of your hard work!