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Me and she, & him and her

Strangers are the most delightful people. And ego surfing is a glorious way to discover our other selves. Like Eleanor Brown, the pride of Ohio. In her day, Dayton school principals called her an amazing teacher.

Yet given the givens, her 40-year career was a surprise.

The other Brown's 1934 thesis, printed privately thanks to a pal's loan (publication was a requirement for graduation), is on the blindness of the poet John Milton. "Disregarding the modus of most research, which is rigidly impersonal," Brown wrote in its preface, "I have chosen for some of the material in this book to draw upon my own knowledge and experience."

"The reader will pardon this difference, I hope, when he learns that, like Milton, I must 'cheerfully bid my eyes take holiday.' Blindness came upon Milton in adult life, but it has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. Yet for me the memory of the red-gold of the sun, the blue of the sky, the green of the grass, and the light of the firefly is still vivid. To the interpretation of Milton's life and writing after the loss of sight, I add my knowledge of blindness. And on account of this bond of union, I bring to the task an interest such as Milton must have given to the writing of Samson Agonistes. Thus, by similarity of experience alone, I am rendered a more able critic."

Once she'd worked around a bigoted professor, Brown became Columbia U's first blind PhD. She believed that she was probably born in 1887, never married (as far as I can tell), and died in 1964. John Milton, in turn, was born in 1608 and married three times (the first two wives expired after childbirth; two of his five children died as tots), and Milton was once arrested for writing propaganda for the losing side. He avoided execution thanks to friends who lobbied for his life.

Milton is one of those funny boys. One of those boys whose writings on homosexuality make us want to believe he was a fellow traveller. "Although he has often been accused of misogyny, his attitude toward women was advanced for his day. Similarly, though there is no doubt that he accepted the biblical condemnation of sodomy, there is reason to think that his attitude toward same-sex relations was enlightened for his age," suggests one academic.

"John Shawcross analyzed Milton's intense relationship with his boyhood friend Charles Diodati, concluding that 'The total view of Diodati seen from the extant evidence certainly points to a homosexual nature; of Milton, to a latent homosexualism which was probably repressed consciously (as well as subconsciously) from becoming overt except with Diodati.'

"There is no evidence that Milton was ever again so attached to another male after Diodati's early death in 1638." I'll spare you the endless analysis of three sentences in Paradise Lost, and another few syllables in Paradise Regained, and of the suggestion that Milton would marry Diodati in heaven in the Latin poem "Epitaphium Damonis." "This kind of love can be written only when it has been ended by death," writes egghead buddy, which frankly turns the line into poetic convention rather than proof of homosexuality.

There's nothing of gay sex in the famous few lines of Milton's "On His Blindness" (it's short, I swear):

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

As straight a brain twister as these lines may be, I can't seem to get away from Milton. The guy keeps popping into my life.

Contemporary Canadian poet Elizabeth Bachinsky has been nominated for some biggie award for her second tome, but during last week's Montreal stopover she read from her first collection, "Curio: Grotesques and Satires from the Electronic Age."

Bachinsky anagrammed "On His Blindness." 'Scalled "She is Blond Sin."

Dim, nephritic, yet single (whoosh!)
She's a dandy kid. Why film her drear wilt and
Tease the wanton hidden clit? Oh had I that
Molten loadstone rebel -- gum my thighs. She is down
To her panties. Revere her knees. Tada my
Darling! In time he ruts her cunt. My curt
Deus ex machina goads both girl and Delt. Today
Only I partake in neither - devout -- but
Soon that rumour ( not greed) plies me. Don't
Fight. She's a Norse beast. Now I stroke her.
Baby my every limb seeks this state...hide, eh? His
Deep kiss taunts singly. Ding! Had I shod a bi
Dancer (post Streisand) taut and low -- oh
Woo! What a dish! And to yell nasty verse!

Now that's queering Milton!


# re: Me and she, & him and her
May 26, 2006 9:05 AM

Thanks tons! for the linky love, I hope all is well with you. As for Elizabeth, you might want to add in the permalink to the video of her performance instead of the generic URL for my blog

And next time you're in the neighborhood, please stop in.