In What Furnace Was Thy Brain?

If you consider yourself empty and distraught trying to survive without a steady diet of classic films and the artistic thrust of black and white films with wartime credentials, and especially if you are still in mourning for the Filmstruck cable channel, I highly recommend taking a peek at the new Criterion channel that just premiered.

I have been thoroughly enjoying a wonderful sampling of Columbia noir films from the 1950s. One selection was Murder By Contract, starring a young and hairy Vince Edwards.

You remember Vince Edwards: dangerously good looking and definitely a strong sexual contrast the the more popular but often wimpy Dr. Kildare. I can’t recall why, but we watched Dr. Kildare in my house. My one major recollection of that show was a two-parter co-starring Yvette Mimieux which introduced levels of epileptic seizures and had me scrambling to the library to introduce myself to this English poet, William Blake.

Up till this time I was firmly in the grip of John Keats and was amazed at the scope of Blake’s work. This was before I went off to university where I studied Blake just as he was becoming a hallucinogenic favorite. Blake and Milton and Pope and Roethke were on top of my list then, but as I’ve already discussed, I went on to study the Restoration Dramatists while in graduate school until the Vietnam war made a future career in literature problematic.

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So for Vince and Richard and Yvette and Thalia Menninger:

Tyger, Tyger

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

— William Blake

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