Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bea’s Books (4)

I hear the soft voice. Bea is talking to herself: “My name is Beatrice. It’s a pretty name. It means one who brings happiness.” I peek in the room as she settles in for another nap. My eyes again fall on her books. Bea has quite a collection. She collected books all her life.

I open a dusty leather-bound volume, The Works of William Shakespeare in Seven Volumes, Volume One. Inside is a dedication: “To my daughter Beatrice with love from her father, Harry Singer Chinnock, Christmas 1944.”

Bea loved Shakespeare. She also has Shakespeare’s Amatory Poems. The limited edition number is 373.

Bea has written on the title page, “Gift in 1931 from Antonios Adamantios, Johannes Theophilactes Achilles Polyzoides who wrote,
A thousand centuries have been spun out,
Since first thy thirsty
Drank deep of blood.”

Antonios Adamantios Johannes Theophilactes Achilles Polyzoides was one of her best beaux. She loves to recite his name still. He was very handsome. Her father judged the suitor unsuitable because he came from southern Europe and everyone knows men from southern Europe don't make good husbands because they play around ....

In 1999, Bea picked up this book again and noted favorite sonnets on the first page: "XVIII, XXIX, XLIX (great), LV (special)." At the time she was attending Ehtel Levy's popular seminar at the Wellfleet Public Library. The course perhaps motivated examination of these poems in a new light. She left yellow post-its inside, marks of passage.

Regarding XIX, Bea notes, “In most of these sonnets Shakespeare foretells that they shall last and tell of his loved one’s beauty.”

On XLI, Bea asks, “Is XVI addressed to a young man?”

On XLII, she writes, “Line 3 certainly suggests that the author is jealous of a woman who has the attention of a young man W. S. loved.”

On CVIII, she has underlined “sweet boy” and notes, “I didn’t know he was “dearboying” at this stage.

On XLIX, I read the date October 4, 1931 and contemplate the fact that Bea turned 22 that day.

On LXXXVII, which begins “Farewell! Thou art too dear for my possessing,” Bea has copied out “the cause of this fair gift is wanting…” and notes “A great love poem!”

But, CXVI is her favorite. Mine, too:
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments …”

Finally, on her bookshelf I find The Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint, the paperback Bea used for the seminar. She has underlined many passages. Here and there are questions, scribbled in the margins, to ask in class. Again, favorite poems appear as numbers on the first page with the information, “Sonnets composed 1593-1609.” Bea has signed the book with her name. Below, she has written, “For Nick.”

I will give it to my brother.


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