Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Yours truly, immortalized!

There's no real story behind my pseudonym. When I moved blogs I decided that I wanted a pseudonym that was an actual name (rather than a title, like La Lecturess, which I'd come to find awkward), but unusual enough to be memorable. I was inclined toward something Latinate or Italianate, and I liked the fact that Flavia alliterated with my new blog's name.

All of which is to say, when I chose my pseudonym I'd forgotten about Donne's "Elegy II." Perhaps you've forgotten it, too?

Elegy II: The Anagram

Marry, and love thy Flavia, for she
Hath all things, whereby others beauteous be.
For, though her eyes be small, her mouth is great,
Though they be ivory, yet her teeth be jet:
Though they be dim, yet she is light enough,
And though her harsh hair fall, her skin is rough;
What though her cheeks be yellow, her hair's red,
Give her thine, and she hath a maidenhead.
These things are beauty's elements: where these
Meet in one, that one must, as perfect, please.
If red and white, and each good quality
Be in thy wench, ne'er ask where it doth lie.
In buying things perfum'd, we ask, if there
Be musk and amber in it, but not where.
Though all her parts be not in th'usual place,
She hath yet an anagram of a good face.
If we might put the letters but one way,
In that lean dearth of words, what could we say?
When by the gamut some musicians make
A perfect song, others will undertake,
By the same gamut chang'd, to equal it.
Things simply good can never be unfit;
She's fair as any, if all be like her,
And if none be, then she is singular.
All love is wonder; if we justly do
Accompt her wonderful, why not lovely too?
Love built on beauty, soon as beauty, dies;
Choose this face, chang'd by no deformities.
Women are all like angels: the fair be
Like those which fell to worse; but such as she,
Like to good angels, nothing can impair:
'Tis less grief to be foul, than t'have been fair.
For one night's revels, silk and gold we choose,
But, in long journeys, cloth and leather use.
Beauty is barren oft; best husbands say
There is best land, where there is foulest way.
Oh, what a sovereign plaster will she be,
If thy past sins have taught thee jealousy!
Here needs no spies, nor eunuchs; her commit
Safe to thy foes, yea, to a marmoset.
When Belgia's cities, the round countries drown,
That dirty foulness guards, and arms the towns:
So doth her face guard her. And so, for thee,
Which forc'd by business, absent oft must be,
She, whose face, like clouds, turns the day to night,
Who, mightier than the sea, makes Moors seem white,
Who, though seven years she in the stews had laid,
A nunnery durst receive, and think a maid,
And though in childbirth's labour she did lie,
Midwives would swear, 'twere but a tympany,
Whom, if she'accuse herself, I credit less
Than witches, which impossibles confess,
Whom dildos, bedstaves, and her velvet glass
Would be as loath to touch as Joseph was:
One like none, and lik'd of none, fittest were,
For things in fashion every man will wear.

Now tell me that wouldn't make for an awesome personal ad.


neophyte said...

Oh! I thought that was your source.

Mmmhhh, Donne. Sigh, and sigh again. You, Flavia, to this little magpie, have just presented an irresistible shiny object.

Why Shakespeare? Really? Why, why, why Shakespeare? The rest of this term, Shakespeare. Why? Agh.

So much better, Donne. Sigh. And sigh again. Back I go.

Thanks for the glittery thing. It'll be in my pocket for the rest of the night.

Renaissance Girl said...

I'll tell you something: when I first found your blog, I thought, "That woman has a lot of self-confidence to pick Flavia, given 'The Anagram.'" I admired your subversion of cultural norms of beauty, of female valuation and female silence, your defiance of masculine inscription, and your pluck.

But I also dig that it alliterates.

Flavia said...

Man, you guys give me way too much credit--ain't no subverting or pluck going on here.

rhapsodysinger said...

I had just forgotten how sexy Donne could be...thanks for the quote...I choose to ignore any subversions etc. Just plain old bawdy....by the way, you have a great thing going here...

Hannah said...

I had always assumed that was your source.

I have a Donne-less term ahead of me, and the thought distresses.

Flavia said...

Okay, okay! So you're all better Donne scholars than I.

I'd never forgotten the poem itself, but I definitely had no memory of its subject, or object, being named Flavia.