Sometimes mysteries solve themselves. Some mysteries, like the mystery of the dagger, do not. However, I was delighted to discover a mystery hiding right under my nose: a reference to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s work in Courtney Love’s.
I was reading Rossetti’s poetry when one line rang a bell. As it turns out, Courtney Love’s “Celebrity Skin” makes reference to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “The House of Life: 97. A Superscription” (see comparison below). The song also makes reference to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, but the phrase is such a part of the English language that I overlooked it (pound of flesh).
There are hundreds of English and literature enthusiasts who will tell you that having a broad and varied knowledge of what has been written, both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, will only enhance your experience of the world. I have to tell you that I agree.
That being said, what I discovered here has made me smile and I look forward to more of the same.
Now if I could just figure out where I heard that dagger line before…
A puzzle, Dear Readers…Consider the following phrase:
“I know it’s you by your dagger.”
Does it sound familiar to you? Because it did to me.
When I read it in a poem featured in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers (“On Leaving the Boy in the Battlefield” by the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize-winner, Ansel Elkins) the words rang a deep, round, well-embedded little bell in my head, telling me I had heard/read it before, possibly more than once. Automatically, I supposed the author was paraphrasing Shakespeare, thinking it was just the sort of thing Shakespeare would say. I was already developing foggy visions of conspiring murderers, maybe something from Richard III…
According to the Internet, we cannot blame Shakespeare. And while the poem makes use of fragments of Archilochus’s work, this line is not his either. By all accounts, this line is original to the author. However, this does not remove the idea that I have heard it before.
So, the question I put to you is this: do you know the phrase? Does it ring any bells with you and, if so, who is pulling the cord? Let me know what you know.
‘Til next time…
Down the road
A slow mode
for the soul
A corner we don’t know
Until someone draws
the picket line around it
With a pick, reed, bow
Brass, skins, keys
Silence, voice and breath
For the emotion that has no name,
And we’ll know it’s depth and breadth
Before the next song