We’ll start with a short but powerful punch to the heart, then lighten the mood with the continuing saga of Tom Jones.
Ebb, by Edna St. Vincen Millay
Read by Xe Sands
At some point, i will record “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed,” because I love that particular piece. But for today…for today, this one called to me. It reminds me of a very old wound, and made me think about the fact that old wounds never really heal below the surface. There is always something tender there, as if beneath the new skin, there is simply a hollow space.
I’m also amazed that this poem can pack such a wallop and so much intent into so few words. Obviously, Millay and I are not twins separated at birth…
Tom Jones – Book 1, Chapter 6, by Henry Fielding
Read by Mark Turetsky
This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones over the course of four years.
Here, we’re introduced to a new character, Miss Jenny Jones. Poor Jenny. You may notice that she bears the same last name as the title character of the book, and it turns out she’s the mother of the foundling Mr. Allworthy found. You do the math.
The chapter starts out in a style with Fielding was quite fond of satirizing, the epic simile. Essentially, he mimics the style used by Homer (and more recently by Milton) of using a drawn-out simile in order to describe a person or event which would defy normal language (Milton’s simile of the falling Lucifer and a leviathan in Paradise Lost comes to mind). Here, he’s comparing an old servant woman sent out to find a local slut to a kite. This would have been hilarious back in the day.
The slut-shaming continues, though! Turns out there’s a girl in town who ain’t pretty, but she’s smarter than most of educated lads and showed up to church in a nicer dress than her station allows. Must be something going on there, right? Well, it turns out there’s no smoke without a fire, and Jenny admits to being the mother. The crowd then mocks her for pretending to be better than she is, and mocks her for knowing Latin. Sadly, things don’t seem to have changed much in the intervening 250-odd years.