Belle

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ray miller
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Belle

Post by ray miller » Thu May 09, 2013 10:55 am

ECT would’ve been your treatment
of choice, behind the façade
of a white-columned house
commandeered for industrial purpose;
an unrevealing, metallic
moth-rattle around a bulb
ripped of its vivid pattern.
No coloured lights for you, sister,
but a locomotive thunder that
dampens the strain of a polka.
Those fingernails would need
regular trimming:
you'd always depended upon
the kindness of strangers.
Last edited by ray miller on Mon May 13, 2013 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Belle

Post by twoleftfeet » Thu May 09, 2013 9:07 pm

Very interesting, Ray

Having done a bit of wiki-ing (notably "kindness of strangers") I can see that N is talking about Blanche du Bois.
I like how "belle" could refer to "southern belle" and/or "Belle Reve".

Is there a particular grand old hospital building that you had in mind?

I don't know the play, so maybe that's why I'm not understanding industrial/bench/spares.
Or maybe the poem is as much about the treatment of the mentally ill as it is about Blanche?
(ECT has always struck me as being barbaric)

Geoff
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Re: Belle

Post by Antcliff » Thu May 09, 2013 9:39 pm

(ECT has always struck me as being barbaric)
Although not as barbaric as...what was done to the sister of TW.

Seth
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Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Belle

Post by Antcliff » Thu May 09, 2013 10:52 pm

Well, I read this as being about a badly treated mental patient....perhaps the sister of the author of the famous last line.

Intriguingly enigmatic this...

No coloured lights for you, sister,
but a locomotive thunder that
dampens the strain of a polka.


I read this as being about said sister and how she was denied her fun by what happened to her. But, but, I may be completely wrong.

Seth.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

ray miller
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Re: Belle

Post by ray miller » Fri May 10, 2013 10:00 am

Thanks, Geoff and Seth.
Geoff. I was just imagining Blanche Dubois at the institution she was taken to at the end of A Streetcar Named Desire.I thought it possible that Belle Reve might now be the institution - those asylums were very grand.
The precision bench, spare parts will probably be cut - it's where Blanche's beau worked, the precision bench in the spare parts dept.

Seth. I suppose there's a lot of Williams's sister in Blanche Dubois.But I also have in mind a person I knew who used to practically beg for ECT in order to punish herself for infidelities.
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Re: Belle

Post by twoleftfeet » Fri May 10, 2013 10:17 am

ray miller wrote: Seth. I suppose there's a lot of Williams's sister in Blanche Dubois.But I also have in mind a person I knew who used to practically beg for ECT in order to punish herself for infidelities.
Ray, I did wonder how much of your own experience was in this poem.
Also, before I had any success with Wiki I was thinking that "sister" might even refer to a malevolent nurse,
like "Big Nurse" in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I was thinking spare parts/lobotomies !
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Re: Belle

Post by ray miller » Mon May 13, 2013 4:11 pm

Geoff. I hadn't realised that the closing 2 lines were so well known. Dunno whether to get rid of all the last 4 lines or half of them, and which half. Or leave as it is.
I think spare parts nicely describes the mentally ill, particularly in times of economic trouble.
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Re: Belle

Post by twoleftfeet » Mon May 13, 2013 5:09 pm

ray miller wrote:Geoff. I hadn't realised that the closing 2 lines were so well known. Dunno whether to get rid of all the last 4 lines or half of them, and which half. Or leave as it is.
Losing "kindness of strangers" might prevent some readers (like me) finding a "way in" to the poem via wiki.
ray miller wrote: I think spare parts nicely describes the mentally ill, particularly in times of economic trouble.
Hmm, maybe on some levels. To me a "spare part" implies a functional part, not a broken one.
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Re: Belle

Post by Antcliff » Mon May 13, 2013 5:26 pm

Losing "kindness of strangers" might prevent some readers (like me) finding a "way in" to the poem via wiki.
Ditto. The famous quote immediately made me think of TW's sister. I think without it I might have wandered...

Seth
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Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Belle

Post by ray miller » Mon May 13, 2013 6:33 pm

OK, I'm convinced, thanks for the help. I'll ditch the spare parts.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Belle

Post by Macavity » Tue May 14, 2013 6:37 pm

hi Ray

I think the success of the poem is that it leads readers to research more on the subject. The poem itself doesn't divulge why this would be the preferred treatment and so the invitation is to read outside the poem.
your treatment
of choice, behind the façade
of a white-columned
Perhaps the 'of' appears a bit stacked/mechanical at that point to serve the line break.

cheers

mac

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Re: Belle

Post by ray miller » Tue May 14, 2013 8:49 pm

Thanks, mac. I don't really understand your point about "of", can't imagine what else might go in its place. Ah, I just realised you're referring to the two "ofs" beginning lines in succession. At least, I think you are. Yes, hadn't noticed it before.
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Re: Belle

Post by ljordan » Thu May 16, 2013 6:20 pm

Ray, I did not 'get' the allusion to the play until reading the thread and am not sure what I take from it. Is the play informing the poem or the poem a puzzle about the play? Just a rhetorical question to illustrate my experience. The image at the turn: locomotive thunder dampening the strain of polka is intriguing, but...?

larry

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Re: Belle

Post by David2 » Thu May 16, 2013 6:42 pm

Great idea to take the story on like this, Geoff. The last two lines are indeed stunningly famous, and therefore should be used with extreme care.

On the other hand, I've never heard of Belle Reve, so calling the poem Belle didn't bring BDB to mind at all. I think it's a bit of a red herring, actually. I suppose calling it Blanched (and dropping the last two lines) wouldn't help, would it?

I don't think lines 5 to 7 add very much, but that may be because I'm missing something crucial. Still - liked it!

Cheers

David

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Re: Belle

Post by ray miller » Fri May 17, 2013 4:26 pm

Thanks, Larry, David.
I think it does fall between two stools, Larry. It was meant to envisage what happens to Blanche in the madhouse but never quite gets there.
It's had all sorts of titles, David. I daresay it will have a different one in time.
The lines 5-7 are meant to distil the ECT experience - Blanche is likened to a moth in the play. I like "moth-rattle" actually!

Ray
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I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Belle

Post by Basnik » Sun May 19, 2013 9:37 am

Hi Ray,

It was interesting because I know the play quite well but a bit too dependent on the original, I think. I was confused by 'of choice' as if she were able to choose anything. I like the way you've interwoven motifs from the play. The scarf on the bulb reference isn't quite working I think. Perhaps it needs a different narrator.

Best wishes,
Rich
bez prace, nejsou kolaci - without work, there are no cakes (Czech proverb)

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Re: Belle

Post by ray miller » Mon May 20, 2013 11:20 am

Thanks, Rich. Maybe there would have been some choice - and inasmuch as ECT might be associated with self-punishment and burying memories, as opposed to psychoanalysis, for example, which seeks to retrieve memories - that might have been hers.
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Re: Belle

Post by Basnik » Fri May 24, 2013 4:54 pm

I see your point, Ray. I was reading recently about the number of people who actually volunteered for this. Saw it as a way of expiating sin. Although, I suppose Blanche never saw herself particularly as a sinner so it would work to me only as a forced choice rather than an actual choice. Anyway, you have a good point.

Best,
Rich
bez prace, nejsou kolaci - without work, there are no cakes (Czech proverb)

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Re: Belle

Post by ray miller » Fri May 24, 2013 9:13 pm

Thanks, Rich. I got the impression that Blanche was rather beset by sin, or guilt perhaps is a better word - her husband's suicide, for instance.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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