the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

quotes: bishop on charms

Posted by rigorousm on January 21, 2011

Your Hamlet is a disgusting romanticist who remains disgusting because he can’t show his own horror without ranting and half-boasting about his own virility. The world “greenhouse” has a strangely Victorian feeling about it when used in such a poem– it strikes me as being out of place. And so has “charms”– my god, how loathsome an expression that is. It represents surely one of the worst sides of masculinity– to sum up three or four more exciting features of female anatomy and label them all with one convenient word. I think Ophelia quoting at such length is a little odd.
You know Ophelia doesn’t mean a word of it when she goes on about “reverence, honor, beauty, charity,” etc. She has already hinted that she wants to be kissed again. The whole thing is messy, Don (and so are my remarks on it) and Hamlet leaves me convinced that he just wanted to impress his Ophelia with the strength of his passion and that he’s the kind of man who enjoys creating scenes and then brooding about them.

— Elizabeth Bishop to Donald E. Stanford, March 15, 1934

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