“And the silence is alone”

Today is the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Tomorrow will mark the 32nd anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. Two days that will live in infamy.

An additional sour note for the 8th, it is the birthday of Ann Coulter, the rabid ultra-conservative political “pundit,” who once said “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.'” An attractive woman with an ugly soul.

On a more positive note, also sharing birthdays on Saturday are two poets (well, maybe a poet and a half), Jim Morrison and Delmore Schwartz.

I still have a first edition copy of Morrison’s first book of poetry, The Lords and The New Creatures. I eagerly snapped this up when it first came out. I liked Jimbo’s style, but the poetry itself was only so-so. Delmore Schwartz, on the other hand, was a well-respective poet, although he is little known today. He had a rock ‘n roll connection also, as he was a major influence on Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.

This may seem like a odd segue, but perhaps not, as now we move to an attractive woman with a beautiful soul. Schwartz once wrote a poem titled “Love and Marilyn Monroe” (“Long may she flourish in self-delight and the joy of womanhood./A nation haunted by Puritanism owes her homage and gratitude.”). Now, what I didn’t know until recently was that Monroe herself wrote poetry. And some of it isn’t bad. They were published in 2010 in a book with the self-explanatory title, Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters.

Marilyn Monroe, a complex person, a sex symbol, a woman who took night classes in literature and history at UCLA, studied method acting with Strasberg, wanted to be taken seriously, and not thought of as just a dumb blonde. She was, as many have noted, tortured by that need. Her unpublished poetry reveals just how deep her waters ran. Sam Kashner wrote in Vanity Fair, “writing and poetry were lifelines, the ways and means to discover who she was and to sort through her often tumultuous emotional life.”

Marilyn Monroe possessed humanity, sensitivity, and raw intelligence that was almost always overshadowed by her sex appeal, troubles, and insecurity. Here is one of Marilyn’s untitled poems, sans her corrections:

That silent river which stirs
And swells itself with whatever passes over it
Wind, rain, great ships
I love the river – never unmoored
By anything
It’s quiet now
And the silence is alone
Except for the rumbling of things unknown
Distant drums very present
But for the piercing of screams
And the whispers of things
Sharp sounds and then suddenly hushed
To moans beyond sadness – terror beyond
The cry of things dim and too young to be known yet
The sobs of life itself

And bear the pain & the joy
Of newness on your limbs

Loneliness – be still


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