Tuesday, April 13, 2010

“Love, Irving Sappho”

In childhood, the Glass children left soap-written messages for one another on the medicine-cabinet mirror. In adulthood, they still do. In 1942, sister Boo Boo (an ensign in the Waves) leaves a message for brother Seymour on the occasion of his wedding. Her handwriting is “almost indecipherably minute”:

Raise high the roof beam, carpenters. Like Ares comes the bridegroom, taller far than a tall man. Love, Irving Sappho, formerly under contract to Elysium Studios Ltd. Please be happy happy happy with your beautiful Muriel. This is an order. I outrank everybody on this block.

J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters (1963)
Google Books has a 1920 translation of Irving Sappho’s poem that matches the Glass version (save for a hyphenated roof-beam and the exclamatory Hymenaeus).

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