Yesterday as usual, Isabella had me up before 5 am to feed her, and I had to work until after 6 pm. I am so tired, I can barely move, or write a post for today. Enjoy the weekend everyone. I’ll be working tomorrow also. Sunday can’t come soon enough.
I had a migraine yesterday, so I went home from work at noon. I wouldn’t have gone in at all, but I’d been off on Monday and Tuesday and I had some work I needed to do. I’m teaching a class this morning and I need to prepare for it. I won’t go into work today until 9 am because I’m working this evening until 6 pm for an after hours event. I hope my headache will be gone when I wake up this morning. Otherwise, it’s going to be a really long day.
Today is also the autumn equinox, which begins my favorite season, autumn. I love seeing the leaves change here in Vermont. The views are breathtaking this time of year. It also means cooler weather, but not cold weather, at least not yet.
I was off work yesterday, so I decided to watch a movie I’d DVR’d. A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to DVR some Cary Grant movies on TCM when I saw that Lafayette Escadrille was going to be on. Some of you may know that the First World War is one of my historical specialties, especially Americans in World War I, so when I saw that a move about the Lafayette Escadrille, a French Air Force unit composed of American volunteers, was coming on, I knew I wanted to see it. Besides, it stars Tab Hunter, who, in my opinion, is one of the sexiest men to have ever lived, and he looks really good in a French Air Force uniform and an American Army uniform later in the movie. Of all the military uniforms I’ve ever seen throughout history, the WWI era American uniform is my favorite, but I’m getting off track.
Tab Hunter came out as gay in his 2005 autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential, which was also made into a documentary by his husband Allan Glaser. Hunter had long been rumored to be gay and was basically outed in 1955 when his agent fed a story about him being arrested for disorderly conduct at what the magazine called a “limp-wristed pajama party.” His agent had been Henry Wilson, who also represented Rock Hudson. It has always been believed that Wilson leaked the story to Confidential in order to keep a story about Hudson being gay out of the magazine. However, Hunter was such a heartthrob and was also protected by Jack Warner, not to mention “dating” Natalie Wood, that the story had little impact on his career at the time. Lafayette Escadrille was made three years later.
Lafayette Escadrille is no cinematic masterpiece, but it was mildly entertaining since the movie stars some very handsome men, including Jody McCrea, known for playing Deadhead in all the seventies Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach movies, and a young Clint Eastwood. It was worth it just to see Tab Hunter in his prime. In nearly every movie he was in during the 1950s, Tab Hunter is seen shirtless at some point, and his beauty will take your breath away. After I watched Lafayette Escadrille, I watched the documentary Tab Hunter Confidential. Hunter passed away in 2018. Even as an older man, Tab Hunter still had a beautiful smile and was still good-looking. He spent his later years focusing on his beloved horses.
Fire and Ice
By Robert Frost – 1874-1963
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
About the Poem
“Fire and Ice” was written by Robert Frost and published in 1920, shortly after WWI, and weighs up the probability of two differing apocalyptic scenarios represented by the elements of the poem’s title. The speaker believes fire to be the more likely world-ender of the two and links it directly with what he has “tasted” of “desire.” In an ironically conversational tone, the speaker adds that ice—which represents hate and indifference—would “also” be “great” as a way of bringing about the end of the world. There are two reported inspirations for the poem: the first of these is Dante’s Inferno, which is a poetic and literary journey into Hell written in the 14th century. The other is a reported conversation Frost had with astronomer Harlow Shapley in which they talked about the sun exploding or extinguishing—fire or ice.
According to one of Frost’s biographers, “Fire and Ice” was inspired by a passage in Canto 32 of Dante’s Inferno, in which the worst offenders of hell (the traitors) are submerged up to their necks in ice while in a fiery hell: “a lake so bound with ice, / It did not look like water, but like a glass…right clear / I saw, where sinners are preserved in ice.” In a 1999 article, John N. Serio claims that the poem is a compression of Dante’s Inferno. He draws a parallel between the nine lines of the poem with the nine rings of Hell and notes that, like the downward funnel of the rings of Hell, the poem narrows considerably in the last two lines. Frost’s diction further highlights the parallels between Frost’s discussion of desire and hate with Dante’s outlook on sins of passion and reason with sensuous and physical verbs describing desire and loosely recalling the characters Dante met in the upper rings of Hell: “taste” (recalling the Glutton), “hold” (recalling the adulterous lovers), and “favor” (recalling the hoarders). In contrast, hate is discussed with verbs of reason and thought (“I think I know…/To say…”).
In an anecdote, he recounted in 1960 in a “Science and the Arts” presentation, the prominent astronomer Harlow Shapley claims to have inspired “Fire and Ice.” Shapley describes an encounter he had with Frost a year before the poem was published in which Frost, noting that Shapley was the astronomer of his day, asked him how the world would end. Shapley responded that either the sun will explode and incinerate the Earth, or the Earth will somehow escape this fate only to end up slowly freezing in deep space. Shapley was surprised at seeing “Fire and Ice” in print a year later and referred to it as an example of how science can influence the creation of art or clarify its meaning.
About the Poet
Robert Frost most likely needs no introduction, but in case you don’t know, he is one of the most celebrated figures in American poetry. Frost was the author of numerous poetry collections, including New Hampshire (Henry Holt and Company, 1923). Born in San Francisco in 1874, he lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont. Frost is one of my favorite poets. The simplicity of his poems often hides a much deeper meaning. He wrote some of America’s best-loved poems: “The Road Not Taken,” “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” “Birches,” and one of my personal favorites, “Mending Wall.”
Frequently honored during his lifetime, Frost is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America’s rare “public literary figures, almost an artistic institution”. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont. Frost died in Boston in 1963.