Tuesday poem: The lock

February 5, 2013

The lock

‘…a lock of Jane Austen’s hair has just sold at auction for £5,640 (on today’s exchange, that’s AU$11,640.73)….’ 
The Australian Writers’ Marketplace blog, June 24th, 2008. A photo of the hair appears in The Guardian, June 2nd. It has been shaped into the crude representation of a tree.

Do they stroke it with avid fingers, this palm tree lock
that once grew from the full head of quietest genius?
Scalping would be too much, headhunting too tropical
but buying the hair of a dead woman you can’t know
is quite the thing. Your age, Jane, would craft sad crap
like this weeping whale-spout from bits of loved ones,
so willowy wrists were always kissed by absent lips,
dead, or gone to Australia. Perhaps the buyer loves
your wit and grace, balanced like a cat walking over
a bark of craning dogs; the way your corseted matter
could expand beyond tight binding without showing
the pumping. Or perhaps your dead snips are stalked
by modern zombies of celebrity, shameless and bloody.
A bit like Bath, but bigger. Personally, I blame the BBC.

P.S. Cottier

only more old-school

only more old-school

Two hundred years since Pride and Prejudice this year, and I thought it was appropriate to post this little poem (first published in Eureka Street and then in The Cancellation of Clouds) about the author. I hate those BBC dramas where the clothes seem to be the main feature. Austen’s strength was her prose style, not her embroidery.

Tap this quill and be taken to a site where many poems appear:

Tuesday Poem

4 Responses to “Tuesday poem: The lock”

  1. A great little piece Penelope…fun but sharp and very interesting.
    Thanks for posting it. How do they know its her hair anyway?

    • pscottier said

      I can’t remember now what the article said about the aspect of the hair being genuine Helen. I think, if It should turn out to be false, it totally shows up how the author is so much more than any souvenir made from alleged bits of her! The books remain regardless of the DNA of the hair. Thanks for your comment.

  2. I’d assumed, even before your reaction to Helen’s comment, that the person had bought the hair to reconstruct Jane from her DNA and set her to work writing sequels to her famous novels. But what if it isn’t really Jane’s DNA? That new novel might be entitled “Pride and Prejudice 2: With Extreme Prejudice”, but the reader can quickly perceive it is really “Wuthering Depths” … ‘Heathcliff, let me innnn the window of your submersible’.

  3. pscottier said

    Unfortunately, Tim, as you suggest, it seems that the cloning was indeed disastrous, and all that resulted was a Brontë-saurus.

    Yes, my head is hanging in shame.

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