The Dyer’s Hand

British writers often use phrases from well known poems as titles for their book. So well known are those poems in fact, it is assumed that any literate person will spot the reference immediately. These book titles are never explained, even if they’re a bit weird.

So, even though The Dyer’s Hand by Auden has been one of my favourite books for many years, I never understood the title.

But, sometimes it is a bliss Americans know as little about those references as any non-native speaker of the English language does.

[Shakespeare’s] duties as playwright and player are deplored as “public means” in Sonnet 111, a lament at Fortune, the “guilty goddess” who did not “better for my life provide / Than public means which public manners breeds” so that “my nature is subdued / To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand.”

Dirty work, in other words, though lucrative. […]

John Updike, in the New Yorker

[x]#1970 fan woensdag 9 augustus 2006 @ 23:46:04