Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Maypole of Merry Mount

The Maypole of Merry Mount

Merry Mount is the original name of Quincy, MA. There's a bit of trivia I feel I ought to retain.

Who were these folk at Merry Mount? They sound like a bunch of hippies, born 240 years early on the wrong coast. Peter Palfrey asks whether they should cut the hair of the Lord of May. Absolutely, and let's get rid of all this gayety while we're at it.

I love the paragraph of backstory that begins "Two hundred years ago, or more..." Sounds like we almost had San Francisco next door to South Boston but for the intrepid intervention of Endicott and his bunch. I wonder did they ship all the green warriors off to Vermont?

Faced with their protestations of love and sacrifice, Endicott relents and shows mercy on the newlyweds (certain they will raise their children in the faith). I don't know about that. Maybe in moment of his own twisted mirth, the venerable puritan decided marriage was punishment enough.

Hawthorne disagrees. Although they never experienced the gay life again, the couple "never wasted one regretful thought on the vanities of Merry Mount."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Read Wakefield here

I like this story if only for the soothing W throughout. This line resonates with me, "when she had been more years a widow than a wife..." I feel like I approach that day myself.

Of course, in the story it's all a cruel caprice and Wakefield's wife is no more a widow than I am. Wicked man, that Wakefield. Worst sort of procrastinator he turned out to be. What did he do all that time? That's what I wonder whenever I read this story. How did he earn his bread? What sort of credentials did he provide his new landlady?

Hawthorne would have us believe Wakefield set off on a tangent and could not find his way back for twenty years. And if I knew where he went to work, maybe I could believe that.

The ending caught my attention this time around. I feel Rod Serling's cadence and can well imagine him speculating about Wakefield becoming, as it were, a denizen of the Twilight Zone. Can you hear it too?

Amid the seeming confusion of our mysterious world, individuals are so nicely adjusted to a system, and systems to one another, and to a whole, that, by stepping aside for a moment, a man exposes himself to a fearful risk of losing his place forever. Like Wakefield, he may become, as it were, an Outcast of the Universe.

I imagine Hawthorne in an attic more years than miles from where I sit trying to wrest a living from his writing. Oh, what teleplays he might have written.