Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bachelor Belles on Valentine's Day

In honor of Valentine's Day, I took a trip up to the GriggsDakota attic. The attic has been a joy of mine since I first discovered the stairway at the age of two or three. I quickly decided to try to climb them. I don't remember reaching the top of the stairs on the first trip. There was someone up there, my grandmother, I think. The trap door was open. About half way up the stairs, the memory fades...
Later, when my family moved into the house, I spent hours up in the attic amid the dusty treasures. I have pleasant memories of being up there and letting my imagination run wild. It was that way today when I found this book: 
Bachelor Belles
Harrison Fisher
 The copyright date on the book is 1908. This appears to be a volume assembled by an artist in order to draw attention to his work.
The art depicts beautiful women. These women quite possibly existed only in the imagination of the artist. The woman above is impossibly tiny waisted, even in a corset, I think. Clearly her dog adores her.
The book contains poetry. I noticed that while authors are listed in the contents, the author is not credited by the entry in the text of the book itself. As if the name would in some way detract from the fantasy presented here.
Bachelor Belles is beautiful from beginning to end. The heavy paper pages are gracefully etched throughout with hearts, flowers, scrolls, pillars, and cupids. 
The girls are adorable 
  She promises action.
 While she evokes a mysterious sadness.
A 1908 bathing beauty may have been a bit risque in her day. Today she looks like she is preparing to wait tables at a diner. 
And then I came upon this: A print of a horse named "Queen." 
That had been carefully placed over the print of the lovely blonde above. 
The accompanying poetry by Thomas Moore added more intrigue to the mystery:

When I loved you, I can't but allow 
I had many an exquisite minute;
But the scorn that I feel for you now 
Hath even more luxury in it!
Thus, whether we're on or we're off,
Some witchery seems to await you;
To love you is pleasant enough,
And oh, 'tis delicious to hate you! 
So what scandalous wrongdoing prompted a long-ago someone to cover this innocent face with a picture of a horse named Queen?
Let your imagination run wild...
Oh love, what a wonder you are.

Some of the poetry has an Anonymous author, as does the following rhyme.
Do I love her?
Dimpling red lips at me pouting,
Dimpling shoulders at me flouting;
No, I don't!

Do I love her?
'Prisoned in those crystal eyes
Purity forever lies; 
Yes, I do!

Do I love her?
Little, wild and willful fiction,
Teasing, torturing contradiction;
No, I don't!

 Do I love her?
With kind acts and sweet words she
Aids and comforts poverty;
Yes, I do!

Do I love her? Quick she puts her cuirass on,
Stabs with laughter, stings with scorn;
No, I don't!

Do I love her? 
No! Then to my arms she flies,
Filling me with glad surprise;
Ah, yes I do! 
And on this Valentine's Day over 100 years after this poem was published, remember this:
Make up your mind, boys.
Women don't like to sit around and wait. 
If you love her, today is the day to let her know. 
Just a little bit of modern wisdom gleaned from an old book in GriggsDakota.