Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oliver Sacks

I had no idea that Oliver Sacks was such a hunk back in the day!  I read The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat back in the 80s when I was a kid.  He left England behind in the early 60s, embraced the counter-culture after travelling to Canada and the western USA, and became known as 'Dr. Squat' during his residency at UCLA.  He could power-lift 272 kilos! - and it shows in the above photo..

He was friends with Thom Gunn, a Movement poet (himself British, and openly gay) and took to heart Gunn's The Allegory of a Wolf Boy as his own (his middle name was suitably Wolf).  It fits.  Sacks was doctor by day and a young experimenter by night.

Allegory of a Wolf Boy

The causes are in Time; only their issue
Is bodied in the flesh, the finite powers.
And how to guess he hides in that firm tissue
Seeds of division? At tennis and at tea
Upon the gentle lawn, he is not ours,
But plays us in a sad duplicity.

Tonight the boy, still boy open and blond,
Breaks from the house, wedges his clothes between
Two moulded garden urns, and goes beyond
His understanding, through the dark and dust:
Fields of sharp stubble, abandoned by machine
To the whirring enmity of insect lust.

As yet ungolden in the dense, hot night
The spikes enter his feet: he seeks the moon,
Which, with the touch of its infertile light,
Shall loose desires hoarded against his will
By the long urging of the afternoon.
Slowly the hard rim shifts above the hill.

White in the beam he stops, faces it square,
And the same instant leaping from the ground
Feels the familiar itch of close dark hair;
Then, clean exception to the natural laws,
Only to instinct and the moon being bound,
Drops on four feet.  Yet he has bleeding paws.

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