Friday, May 05, 2006

Life imitating art

Epidermal Macabre--Theodore Roethke

Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes, --
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness:
I hate my epidermal dress,
The savage blood's obscenity,
The rags of my anatomy,
And willingly would I dispense
With false accouterments of sense,
To sleep immodestly, a most
Incarnadine and carnal ghost.

I suppose one should make a Platonic, if not Christian, reference here. Instead, I'll just offer an explanation. The picture is from an exhibit that is in Houston just now (yes, it's a real human body). But I saw the picture on a poster in a classroom where I was teaching Roethke (though not this poem). From the poem I was teaching I followed a link to this one, and immediately thought of the poster, and immediately knew the two were made for each other.

So there you are.

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