poking around

Oh dear.  This all started because I was looking at my legs and thinking how nice it is not to have to shave them any more - one of the perks of age. (On the other hand, I have to examine my chin regularly.)  So that led me on to think of a phrase I remembered from a long time ago: "armpits like chalices".  I thought it came from the Song of Solomon and I was wondering whether this person was old like me, with hairless armpits, or whether they had Gillette razors for ladies in those days.

So first I looked up chalice:

chalice noun  historical: a large cup or goblet.• the wine cup used in the Christian Eucharist.  ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin calix, calic- ‘cup’.

And then I wondered where i had picked up the phrase "armpits like chalices".  Wow. It's from Elizabeth Smart's book (memoir? soft porn? prose poem? - called a 'cult novel'), By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (1945). It's about her hysterical, nagging, clinging, (ridiculous) long-term affair with  a minor poet, George Barker, who fathered her four children while never divorcing his wife (nor she him). He was not a prolific writer but he was creative in other ways, with an estimated 15 children by several different women. One of them was Smart (but not so).  Here is what she wrote when he told her he had been seducdd by a very  young man:

"One should love beings whatever their sex”,  I reply, but withdraw into the dark with my obstreperous shape of shame, offended with my own flesh which cannot metamorphose into a printshop boy with armpits like chalices."

So how did I imx that up with the Song of Solomon? I asked about the use of chalice in that. Here is what I got:

" Your body is a chalice, wine-filled. Your skin is silken and tawny like a field of wheat touched by the breeze."  Not bad.        Song of Solomon 7:2

The Grail appeared in a chalice.  If you Google chalice (goblet/grail) you'll find some lovely images of them, from various sources. I couldn't figure out how to transfer the pictures.

Chalice is such a lovely word.  Claudius planned to off Hamlet with poison in a chalice of wine but, as you remember, Gertrude drank it instead.  

Ah, yes, poison in a chalice.  That, of course made me think of the Danny Kaye movie, The Court Jester (1955).  Kaye (Hawkins) had to learn a code Griselda was telling him so that  he could use the correct goblet to poison the villain. The routine went like this:

Hawkins: I've got it! I've got it! The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?

Griselda: Right. But there's been a change: they broke the chalice from the palace!

Hawkins: They *broke* the chalice from the palace?

Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.

Hawkins: A flagon...?

Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.

Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.

Griselda: Right.

Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?

Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!

Hawkins: The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.

Griselda: Just remember that.


My mind to me a playground is.