"But thinks how out of the lion / can come forth sweetness" (Judges 14: 8-9, 14).
"a wife that maketh her husband ashamed" (Proverbs 12:14);
"A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: / but the soul of the transgressor shall eat violence" (Proverbs 13:2); "he had sewed sackcloth, / upon his skin and defiled his horn in the dust" (Job 16:15};
"God's brightness was the light, and He had horns / coming out of His hand" (Habakkuk 3:4);
"bud the horn of David" (Psalms 132:17);
"exalt it like the horn" (Psalms 92:10).
Nineteenth century America's morbid fascination with deformed Black children as entertainers is well illustrated in Michael Mitchell's Monster of the Gilded Age: The Photographs of Chas. Eisenmann.
This conclusion makes a reference to the death of the near-invulnerable Norse god Balder, who could only be harmed by mistletoe. He was brought down by Loki, a trickster who fathered the goddess of death and other assorted evils and who tricked a blind god into hurling a small dart of mistletoe at Baldur.
The suggestive language is in part taken from a well-known scene in Thomas Otway's play Venice Preserved, a scene in which Aquilina, a dominatrix prostitute, is being begged by her client to kick and humiliate him.
Fumus fugiens (Transient Smoke) from the Latin proverb
"Vita quid est? Fumus fugiens et bulla caduca" ("What is life? A
transient smoke and a fragile bubble").
O Columbia! It is your blood in him,
He merits songs' jubilation,
and so I send him honey,
white milk, the music of forest flutes.
Live now, John Brown,
superior and in glory,
forever in Kleo's grace;
are a variation on a passage from Pindar's Nemean 3: 64-84: Kleo, muse of history.
"O Zeus, it is your blood in their veins. . . .
Aristokleidas (literally aristo [superiority], kleidas [glory]) deserves jubilant reception of song. . . .
I send you this glass of honey and white milk . . .
a foaming drink of song with breath of Aeolian flutes . . . .
through the grace of throned Kleo."
Michael Knightly, Matthew King, and Maurice-Gustave Kahn are, of course, all fictitious, though they and their stories seem plausible. And Michael Keane is the name I assign to the actual M.K. of the photograph and Fox's case study. Is the life I imagine for him any more or any less real, any more or any less fictitious than the lives I create for the other three M.K.s? As I ask in the poem, "does such guessing chronicle a true history?"