Rita Dove Recites a Poem

Question: “The Undressing”

Rita Dove: I could. Let me think. What could I do?  I’ll read a short one and but I have to give you a little gloss for it, if I can find it. All right, in this poem… This is from my new book “Sonata Mulattica,” which tells the story of George Bridgetower, a mulatto violinist from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this poem he was a prodigy. He was a little boy, ten years-old in England playing his violin in front of all the music lovers of London and his father is sent away from London. The Prince of Wales says, “I’ll take care of the little boy.” And so you have this little boy who is… has the best job in the world for a musician, but at the same time he has no family and in this poem the prince has ordered him to go into his room and to change into British clothing. “The Undressing:” “First the sash, peacock blue. Silk unfurling round and round until I’m the India ink dotting a cold British i. Now I can bend to peel off my shoes, try to hook the tasseled tips into the emerald sails of my satin pantaloons. Farewell sir monkey jacket, monkey red. Ado shirt tart and bright as the lemons the prince once let me touch. Goodbye lakeside meadow. Goodbye hummingbird throat. No more games. I am to become a proper British gentleman, cuffed and buckled with breeches and a fine cravat, but how? My tossed bed glows while I, I am a smudge, a quenched wick, a twig shrouded in snow.”

Recorded on November 19, 2009

The former Poet Laureate recites one of her latest poems from the collection entitled, "Sonata Mulattica."

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.