Crouching close together
in the cooling weather,
with clasping arms and cautioning lips,
with tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“lie close,” Laura said,
and for the first time in her life
began to listen and look
she clung about her sister,
kiss’d and kiss’d and kiss’d her
look at our apples
bob at our cherries,
bite at our peaches,
plums on their twigs;
pluck them and suck them,
then suck’d their fruit globes fair or red:
sweeter than honey from the rock,
stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
clearer than water flow’d that juice,
she never tasted such before
she suck’d and suck’d and suck’d the more
fruits which that unknown orchard bore,
she suck’d until her lips were sore,
brother with queer brother
hugg’d her and kiss’d her,
squeez’d and caress’d her
tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
against her mouth to make her eat.
Lizzie utter’d not a word;
would not open lip from lip
lest they should cram a mouthful in.
but laugh’d in heart to feel the drip
of juice that syrupp’d all her face,
and streak’d her neck
and lodg’d in dimples of her chin,
she cried, Laura,
did you miss me?
come and kiss me.
never mind my bruises,
hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
squeez’d from goblin fruits for you,
goblin pulp and goblin dew.
eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me;
for your sake I have braved the glen
and had to do with goblin merchant men.
her lips began to scorch,
she kissed and kissed her
with a hungry mouth.
Jazz composition based on the poem “Goblin Market,” by Christina Rossetti; recorded at Boss Cupid Studios, Detroit, Michigan (October 5, 2013) All mixing by DJ Liliti.
The implied answer is, it seems, no. And yet Fred Rogers (of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood fame) was able to do something with a 157-word long poem that changed the course of not just PBS but all American children, forever.
The year was 1969. Rogers appeared before the US Senate to justify why the then current president (Nixon) shouldn’t cut the funding to PBS in half, a move that would have canceled shows like Sesame Street and the Electric Company. Senator Pastore had a reputation for slash and burning social welfare programs. Even before the hearings started the heads of PBS had assumed that their network would not survive after Pastore had his say.
Senator Pastore: Alright Rogers, you’ve got the floor.
Mr. Rogers: Senator Pastore, this is a philosophical statement and would take about ten minutes to read, so I’ll not do that. One of the first things that a child learns in a healthy family is trust … My first children’s program was on WQED fifteen years ago, and its budget was $30. Now, with the help of the Sears-Roebuck Foundation and National Educational Television, as well as all of the affiliated stations … each station pays to show our program. It’s a unique kind of funding in educational television. With this help, now our program has a budget of $6000. It may sound like quite a difference, but $6000 pays for less than two minutes of cartoons. Two minutes of animated, what I sometimes say, bombardment. I’m very much concerned, as I know you are, about what’s being delivered to our children in this country. And I’ve worked in the field of child development for six years now, trying to understand the inner needs of children. We deal with such things as … as the inner drama of childhood. We don’t have to bop somebody over the head to … make drama on the screen. We deal with such things as getting a haircut, or the feelings about brothers and sisters, and the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively.
Senator Pastore: Could we get a copy of this so that we can see it? Maybe not today, but I’d like to see the program.
Mr. Rogers: I’d like very much for you to see it.
Senator Pastore: I’d like to see the program itself, or any one of them.
Mr. Rogers: We made a hundred programs for EEN, the Eastern Educational Network, and then when the money ran out, people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said we’ve got to have more of this neighborhood expression of care. And this is what — This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you, and I like you, just the way you are.” And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health. I think that it’s much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger — much more dramatic than showing something of gunfire. I’m constantly concerned about what our children are seeing, and for 15 years I have tried in this country and Canada, to present what I feel is a meaningful expression of care.
Senator Pastore: Do you narrate it?
Mr. Rogers: I’m the host, yes. And I do all the puppets and I write all the music, and I write all the scripts —
Senator Pastore: Well, I’m supposed to be a pretty tough guy, and this is the first time I’ve had goose bumps for the last two days.
Mr. Rogers: Well, I’m grateful, not only for your goose bumps, but for your interest in — in our kind of communication. Could I tell you the words of one of the songs, which I feel is very important?
Senator Pastore: Yes.
Mr. Rogers: This has to do with that good feeling of control which I feel that children need to know is there. And it starts out, “What do you do with the mad that you feel?” And that first line came straight from a child. I work with children doing puppets in — in very personal communication with small groups:
What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad you could bite. When the whole wide world seems oh so wrong, and nothing you do seems very right. What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag or see how fast you go? It’s great to be able to stop when you’ve planned the thing that’s wrong. And be able to do something else instead — and think this song —
‘I can stop when I want to. Can stop when I wish. Can stop, stop, stop anytime….And what a good feeling to feel like this! And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside that helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man.’
Senator Pastore: I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the 20 million dollars.
“Your mother will not return, man has entered the forest,” I don’t know how many Baby Boomers were emotionally scarred as children when the movie Bambi (1942) came out, but I am sure a large number. Consider that the villain of the film, not even seen but only hinted at, was humanity itself. True, World War II was raging and for many it was the end of the world, but Disney seemed to take delight in seeing how he could twist that knife a little bit more, showing us a paradise that was forever ruined simply by our presence. Humanity was no better than a jackal-headed beast, forever bound to its blood lust.
For a good many years I thought I couldn’t find anything sadder, until I stumbled upon Gon the Fox(Gongitsune is the title of the movie), which reminded me once again that only the most magical of creatures will suffer at our hands, even the ones trying to do good. I’m posting the entire movie here, though if you just want to start crying begin watching around the 1:01 mark.
Gon is a little orphan fox. Looking for food he comes to a village where, like all scamps, he creates mischief and gets the better of the villagers. This continues until one day he steals an eel from a man named Hyoju, who had tragically wanted to give it to his dying mother. Mother then dies but the young Gon only realizes his mistake far too late. He tries to make it up by secretly giving Hyoju all the gifts that he had stolen from neighbors, though they then accuse Hyoju himself of stealing and beat him up for it. Afterward the little fox brings only mushrooms and nuts that he had gathered in the forest. Hyoju is grateful for the gifts, although he does not understand where they come from.
One day Hyoju sees Gon sneaking around and shoots him out of anger about the death of his mother. Only afterward does he realize to his horror that the fox he just killed was the one who gave him all the gifts. The movie ends with the spirit of the little fox curled up next to his dead mother, reminding children that life is horror and that the only way one can reunite with one’s dead loved ones is through agonizing death.
“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”
Herman Melville: MOBY DICK
chapter 135: the chase; 3rd day
* * *
East Hall was in flames. The roof of Queen’s Court
had just collapsed. I was running behind
the new captain, her braids singed, when report
came that the queen was dead. “Go! Try and find
Princess Zi Ye,” my captain ordered me.
Then: “they’ve trapped us!” a voice rose from our flank
as the sky darkened. Lord Bai Qi’s army
let loose its steel-tipped arrows. At pointblank
range none escaped. In the mud my captain’s
face still drowns before me. You praise their death
in the same misbegotten way virgins
praise sex. “For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath;”
at you, worm, who has never, will never
shed blood but worships the dead warrior.
Bai Qi is a historic character from the period of ancient China called The Warring States; during which warlords fought each other for power. Though a brilliant general, Bai Qi is remembered today as a cruel tyrant who massacred tens of thousands of vanquished enemy solders and civilians alike.
The image of a sky darkened by arrows comes from the 2002 movie Hero, staring Jet Li; a story based on Jing Ke’s assassination attempt on the King of Qin, Qin Shi Huang, in 227 BC.
I knew you way back when you had owl feet
and dry breasts. Then you married that bastard
Adam and it all went to hell. Discreet
sex while you were married was fun. I heard
what they said about you. It’s like when they
go on about Yeshua; they’re clueless,
aren’t they? fucking clueless. You’re made from clay?
my ass. Only mud pies come from that mess.
Mud pies and goleems. Liliti, you flew
to the Red Sea to get away. You knew
they would never leave a howling taboo