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March 15, 2013

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Is it arbitrary, the relation between looks and substance, or is there a rhythm if not a system at work here? I mean, the relation of good looks to good manners to good morals: is it one of identity, contradiction, or neither? We're told that all that glisters isn't gold, and so forth, and surely an ugly man can write a work of beauty. Cyrano would not say no. But mightn't Lionel Trilling argue that good manners (breeding) are a by-product of good morals (always acknowledging that bread trumps ethics among the hungry)? I think he would have liked to entertain the idea that good looks go together in some harmonious relation with goodness of mind and spirit though in the end he would have stowed the thought in favor of something more complicated.
Thank you for this tremendous sequence of posts. -- DL

Fascinating, do go on, please.

The women have first and last names, the men just last names. Why?

What a good question. Answer, please?

Good question "withheld." Maybe we'll get an answer from Jeffrey Meyers. Note that in the paragraph beginning "The handsomest" first and last are used for both men and women. Stacey

I have often wondered about the precise connotation of the word "handsome" applied to a woman. How it feels, how she would feel hearing the word as opposed to the more conventional "pretty," more equivocal "attractive," more colloquial "cute," more credible than "beautiful." --DL

I would love to be described as "handsome." When I hear it applied to a woman I imagine someone striking, elegant. Also, my dad used to say when a woman caught his eye "Now there's a handsome broad" so maybe that's why I like it. (I unapologetically like "broad" too, and "dame" but then again I'm old fashioned, I love the moonlight . . ")

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
                   

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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