“Nature That Washed Her Hands in Milk”




AG: [continuing with the poems of Sir Walter Raleigh] –  Then, there’s some pretty snow, snow stuff – snow and milk  – page 137. A couple of… that one stanza there, one or two stanzas ,that are on .. well some of the same theme [suffering and death]. The first line of “Nature, That Washed Her Hands In Milk” – that’s a real cute.. “Nature that washed her hands in milk”, that’s a real weird, sweet notion ((Jack) Kerouac wrote a lot of poems about man is existing in milk and living in lilies (sic). He has a poem that begins, “Man is existing in milk and living in lilies’. [Editorial note – from Mexico City Blues – 228th Chorus – “Praised be man, he is existing in milk/and living in lilies -/And his violin music takes place in milk/And creamy emptiness”]  So, “Nature that washed her hands in milk” (it’s just funny to write about milk, you know, pretty poems about milk and snow and fleece and quiet lambs, a sort of poetic prettiness, sort of..  So, toward the end, or mid.. – let’s see, one, two, three, fourth stanza:

But time (which nature doth despise,/And rudely gives her love the lie,/Makes hope a fool and sorrow wise)/His hands do neither wash nor dry;/But being made of steel and rust/Turns snow and silk and milk to dust.”

That’s really pretty – “turns snow and silk and milk to dust – good sound – just simple words “snow” and “silk” – “snow and silk and milk to dust” – “snow and silk and milk” – it’s good, just a good.. good piece of phrasing there – “The light, the belly, lips, and breath” – that’s a nice “belly” too, for, you know, one of those little enumerations  – “The light, the belly, lips, and breath,/He dims, discolors, and destroys”…”Yea, time doth dull each lively wit/And dries all wantoness with it.”  –  funny speed-up there – “And dries all wantoness with it.”   

Okay, I just wanted to get that little piece rolling in.

[Audio of the above can be heard  here, beginning at approximately thirty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in, and concluding at approximately thirty-three-and-a-quarter minutes in]

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