Friday, January 11, 2013

492. Light as Lilac, Heavy as Falling Stone

A country river, an old willow tree,
there I first met my love and she met me,
how my heart misbehaved! She gave
me a ribbon still warm from her breast,
a pink ribbon, I think, which I caressed
and from that time I was enslaved ...

to love only her and her alone,
and so on. But this actually happened,

and as I decipher these spidery scrawls,
the discovered diaries of 18th century Uncle John,
I think what a sentimental fool he was, to be sure,
but a dangerous man with the rapier,
a deadly shot with those early pistols!

Well, you had to be impressive, really,
with ancient pretensions to aristo birth
and no bloody money to speak of.
Fend off the rivals and carry off the girl!
Naturallement! You’d be looking at
ten thousand (pounds) if you were lucky.

He continues:

The zephrys blow upon the trees
as I gaze upon wild raging moors.
My heart contracts to an aching please
to open up those shuttered doors!

This is pretty slick, almost modern.
Johnny is getting into his groove here.
The girl replies (we think), since nearly
all girls reply to love letters in some way
if even to say don’t send them any more.

Her replies are sadly lost to history.

The girl’s family were blithely unaware,
blissfully blinded to this mutual passion,
and so carefully set up an arranged marriage
for Georgiana (for that is her name, poor girl)
to a somewhat equal male companion.

John goes berserk!

He wants to challenge the guy to a duel!
Of course he will kill him, slash or boom,
so Georgiana exerts feminine perspicacity
and takes to her bed for three weeks.
The prospective suitor backs off rather quickly

for who wants a sickly wife, when your plan
is to have, say, six to maybe 14 children?

John, not surprisingly, moves in:
He writes to the parents …

My dear Lord and Lady R ------ ham
It is with the greatest regret that I have been informed
of the severe illness of your beloved daughter
whom I have been given to understand is a person
of the greatest refinement, and a credit to her sex,
which she is not getting a lot of, thanks to you,
and which I am damn sure I can do something about!

The latter part of the letter, I believe,
was not included.

He writes (by messenger) to Georgiana:

I don’t want your money.
I want your cunny.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)
somewhat mischievously cites this
as the first appearance of the slang term,
but this is untrue, academically unsound.

So … what happened, then?
Did Georgiana and John get married?
Ho, yes, indeed! Had a load of kids.
And were they happy forever after? Don’t  
ask silly questions. Romance, my dears,
burns out, burns out in every marriage.