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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fancy Monuments and Unmarked Ditches: "For the Union Dead"

 

For the Union Dead

Relinquunt Ommia Servare Rem Publicam.

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.

Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
my hand tingled
to burst the bubbles,
drifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish.

My hand draws back. I often sigh still
for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
yellow dinosaur steam shovels were grunting
as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
to gouge their underworld garage.

Parking lots luxuriate like civic
sand piles in the heart of Boston.
A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin-colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse, shaking

over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
on St. Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief,
propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,
half the regiment was dead;
at the dedication,
William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.

The monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city's throat.
Its colonel is as lean
as a compass needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound's gentle tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds. He rejoices in man's lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die—
when he leads his black soldiers to death,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small-town New England greens,
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year—
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets,
and muse through their sideburns.

Shaw's father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son's body was thrown
and lost with his "niggers."

The ditch is nearer.
There are no statues for the last war here;
on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
showed Hiroshima boiling

over a Mosler Safe, "the Rock of Ages,"
that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
When I crouch to my television set,
the drained faces of Negro school children rise like balloons.

Colonel Shaw
is riding on his bubble,
he waits
for the blessed break.

The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease.


By Robert Lowell

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Match the Famous Eyes Quiz: How Well Do You Read the Soul?

 
 
"There is a road from the eye to heart 
that does not go through the intellect." 
 
--G.K. Chesterton, English writer, poet, philosopher
 
Describe the eyes of your love. I imagine most of you use color and cliche that do little justice for the "windows to the soul" we most adore. Have you ever considered the slight given to eyes? After all, the delicate, beautiful, yet most expressive feature of human anatomy is a marvel. What mysteries still exist concerning the wondrous orbs?

It turns out eyes may be like fingerprints to the spirit. Everyone has a different structure of lines, dots and colours in their iris, so scientists at Orebro University in Sweden compared the eyes of 428 subjects with their personality traits to see if these structures in the iris reflected their characters.

They focused on patterns in crypts - threads which radiate from the pupil - and contraction furrows - lines curving around the outer edge - which are formed when the pupils dilate, and their findings showed those people with densely packed crypts are more warmhearted, tender, trusting, and likely to sympathise with others. In comparison, those with more contraction furrows were more neurotic, impulsive and likely to give way to cravings.


("Scientists Discover That Eyes Really Are 'The Window to the Soul.'" 
The Daily Mail. February 19, 2007)

The researchers argued that eye structure and personality could be linked because the genes responsible for the development of the iris also play a role in shaping part of the frontal lobe of the brain, which influences personality.

The results were published in the American journal Biological Psychology. "Our results suggest people with different iris features tend to develop along different personality lines," said Matt Larsson, a behavioral scientist who led the study at Orebro University. These findings support the notion that people with different iris configurations tend to develop along different trajectories in regards to personality.

“The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter - often an unconscious 
but still a faithful interpreter - in the eye.” 

 --Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

If, indeed, eyes reveal personality, shouldn't we take more time to study the optics of our potential mates and friends. I wonder how well you know the eyes you have seen many times? Here are some famous eyes. Use a piece of scrap paper, number 1-20, and match the eyes with the person. Answers at the end.

Match the Famous Eyes Quiz

a. Charlie Sheen    b. Jimi Hendrix     c. Mother Teresa  d. Elvis Presley   
e. John Lennon      f. Charles Manson   g. Jessica Alba   h. Adolf Hitler  
i. Pope Benedict    j. Elizabeth Taylor   k. Martin Luther King, Jr.
l. Sadam Hussein  m. Britney Spears   n. Mike Tyson    o. Oprah Winfrey
p. Princess Diana  q. John F. Kennedy  r. Marilyn Monroe  
s. Ronald Reagan  t. Megan Fox


1. ___

2.___

3. ___
  
 4. ___

5. ___

6. ___

7. ___

8. ___
9. ___

10. ___

11. ___

12. ___

13. ___

14. ___

15. ___

16.___

17. ___

 18.___

19. ___

20. ___


"The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears."
 
- John Vance Cheney

ANSWERS

1. c    2. h    3. f    4. j    5. g    6. q    7. e    8. k    9. t    10. n

11. b    12. o    13. i   14. l    15. s   16. r   17. d    18. a    19. m   20. p

Monday, July 28, 2014

Erotic Poetry: Wild Nights and Haunted Houses




Wild Nights – Wild Nights! 

By Emily Dickinson (1891)

Wild nights - Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!
Futile - the winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden -
Ah - the Sea!
Might I but moor - tonight -
In thee!

"Wild nights! Wild nights!" is a poem of unrestrained sexual passion and rapture. When the 1891 edition of Dickinson's poems was being prepared, Colonel Higginson wrote to his co-editor
Mrs. Todd ...

"One poem only I dread a little to print--that wonderful 'Wild Nights,'--lest the malignant read into it more than that virgin recluse ever dreamed of putting there. Has Miss Lavinia [Emily Dickinson's sister] any shrinking about it? You will understand & pardon my solicitude. Yet what a loss to omit it! Indeed it is not to be omitted."

His comments reflect both the sexual narrowness of his times and the Myth of Emily Dickinson, Virgin Recluse.


Clearly, Dickinson uses luxury in a meaning she found in her 1844 dictionary, one which is no longer used: in the gratification of a lustful appetite. In fact, the English word stems from Old French luxurie meaning "debauchery, dissoluteness, lust."

Who could deny that the "heart in port" is the lover's embrace. Yielding to sexual passion, couples need no compass or chart, instruments of control and reason, to reach the ultimate destination. To extend the nautical metaphor "rowing" and "moor in thee" are, in this reading, images for sexual intercourse. There is great economy of words here -- and this adds to the rush of emotion.

Emily Dickinson is widely acknowledged as an innovative, pre-modernist poet. And, evidently Emily, who some consider a loner and a virgin, knew a little about "rocking the boat" of passionate love.


Carpe Diem Erotic Poetry

Carpe diem may mean "seize the day," but to those who fancy erotic poetry, the directive infers much more than a philosophical capture of time. Erotic poetry attempts to pen the intoxication of human sexuality. Perhaps Robert Herrick summarized the genre most famously in his poem “To the Virgins, Make Much of Time” where he begins with the words, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”

Love is the strongest human emotion, and passion is sweet fruit for the loving poet. Lord Byron stated "Love without passion is dreary; passion without love is horrific." And, he proclaimed, "In her first passion, a woman loves her lover, in all the others all she loves is love." Hearts forever quicken with words of love.

So, it is no wonder erotic verse traces its beginnings to the oldest writings in cultures around the world. It has survived from ancient Greece and Rome with authors including Straton of Sardis, Sappho of Lesbos, Automedon, Ovid, and Juvenal. 

Erotic poems explore the passion of sexual desire and the intense longing for spiritual union. This poetry also sometimes including elements of satire or social criticism. Due to the controversial nature of the verse, cultural taboos eventually developed about such material.

People may find it interesting that circulation of erotic literature was not seen as a major problem before the invention of printing, as the costs of producing individual manuscripts limited distribution to a very small group of readers. But, the invention of printing, in the 15th century, brought with it both a greater market and increasing restrictions, like censorship and legal restraints on publication on the grounds of obscenity.

(H. Montgomery Hyde. A History of Pornography. 1964)

Because of restrictions, much of the production of this type of material became clandestine. What developed is a substantial overlap between erotic literature and pornography, with the distinction typically being made on perceived literary merit.

Pornography has been regulated by the legal standards that govern the concept of obscenity, which refers to things society may consider disgusting, foul, or immoral, and may include material that is blasphemous. Pornography is limited to depictions of sexual behavior and may not be obscene.

Pornographic material is protected expression unless it is determined to be obscene. However, child pornography is illegal under federal and state laws prohibiting the depiction of minors in sexual acts.

 
Is Erotic Poetry Obscene?

Obscenity is the word used to describe that which is calculated to promote the violation of the law and the general corruption of morals.

The exhibition of an obscene picture is an indictable offence at common law, although not charged to have been exhibited in public, if it be averred that the picture was exhibited to sundry persons for money.

For something to be "obscene" it must be shown that the average person, applying contemporary community standards and viewing the material as a whole, would find it objectionable, lewd, or lascivious. Three tests must be met before the material in question can be found to be obscene. If any one of these is not met, the material would not be obscene within the meaning of the law:

(1) That the work appeals predominantly to "prurient" interest -- appeal to a morbid, 
degrading and unhealthy interest in sex, as distinguished from a mere candid interest in sex. 
(2) That it depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and 
(3) That it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. 


Erotic Poetry As Art

Patrick Gillespie, poet and blogger (poemshape.wordpress.com), writes ... 

"Just as the haiku is the art of indirection, so too erotica. Whereas the explicit is an imaginative endpoint, the best haiku are a suggestive starting point for the imagination. Suggestiveness is all – allusion, inference, and association.  And when haiku fail because they were made too explicit, eroticism fails for the same reason: eroticism becomes pornographic."

To Gillespie, the best erotic poetry is an imaginative starting point, not an endpoint. The best erotic poems are like the best metaphors; which is to say, to paraphrase the great poet EA Robinson, erotic poetry “tells the more the more it is not told." When poems become too explicit, they lose something. 

Does modern-day America truly possess a vital ... tradition of erotic poetry? I think so, but sloppy sexy references do not spark the magic essential for erotic art. Today, much of what is termed "erotic" is just hollow, without meaning and romantic purpose. 

"Ours is an era of plentiful but repetitive erotic writing, an age of 'copper-lidded eyes' and 'green eyes flecked with yellow,' of a 'backbreaking orchid' and an 'orchid boat,' of hyperlegible Freudian metaphor (silos and fountains, copper pipe and cowboy hats) and its counterpart, the forensic, literal overcorrection (aureoles, Formica countertops and AA batteries). The body parts alone oppress you: lips, testicles, shoulders, eyes, over and over again until you would rather inhabit some spirit realm where bodies are outlawed." 

(Dan Chiisson. "Hot or Not." The New York Times. March 16, 2008)


Let's read some erotic poems. You, may, like me, decide that art is simple evident. And, maybe we could analyze good poetry until the study would actually detract from the impact. I was taught to take poetry for what it is -- "special words in the right places." So, like love, let's just say, "I can't exactly put my finger(s) on it, but I can feel it when I see it." Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, Miss Dickinson.

To His Coy Mistress

By Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) 

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
 

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.


Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.


i like my body when it is with your body

by E. E. Cummings, from Complete Poems 1904-1962


i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body.  i like what it does,
i like its hows.  i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones,and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur,and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh…And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you so quite new



The Encounter   

By Louise Glück (1982)

You came to the side of the bed
and sat staring at me.
Then you kissed me — I felt
hot wax on my forehead.
I wanted it to leave a mark:
that’s how I knew I loved you.
Because I wanted to be burned, stamped,
to have something in the end —
I drew the gown over my head;
a red flush covered my face and shoulders.
It will run its course, the course of fire,
setting a cold coin on the forehead, between the eyes.
You lay beside me; your hand moved over my face
as though you had felt it also —
you must have known, then, how I wanted you.
We will always know that, you and I.
The proof will be my body. 


It Is Marvellous...

By Elizabeth Bishop, from The Complete Poems 1927-1979 

It is marvellous to wake up together
At the same minute; marvellous to hear
The rain begin suddenly all over the roof,
To feel the air clear
As if electricity had passed through it
From a black mesh of wires in the sky.
All over the roof the rain hisses,
And below, the light falling of kisses.

An electrical storm is coming or moving away;
It is the prickling air that wakes us up.
If lightning struck the house now, it would run
From the four blue china balls on top
Down the roof and down the rods all around us,
And we imagine dreamily
How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning
Would be quite delightful rather than frightening;

And from the same simplified point of view
Of night and lying flat on one's back
All things might change equally easily,
Since always to warn us there must be these black
Electrical wires dangling. Without surprise
The world might change to something quite different,
As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking,
Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking. 


The Fall of Man

Author Unknown

Eve’s rounded arm was thrown above her head,
Her dimpled knee, just lifted from its bed,
When, by this chance, this trifle, light as air,
Their warm lips met, and trembling, lingered there.
They slept no more from dusk to rosy dawn,
’Mongst roses red or on some grassy lawn,
But wakened often, from strange dreams of bliss,
To find their mouths all melting in a kiss....

  



THE HAUNTED HOUSE
By George Sylvester Viereck (1884-1962)





 
I LAY beside you ... on your lips the while
Hovered, most strange ... the mirage of a smile,
Such as a minstrel lover might have seen
Upon the visage of some antique queen--
Flickering like flame, half choked by wind and dust,
Weary of all things saving song and lust. 
 
      How many days and years and lovers' lies
      Gave you your knowledge? You are very wise
      And tired, yet insatiate to the last.
      These things I thought, but said not; and there passed
      Before my vision in voluptuous quest,
      The pageant of the lovers who possessed
      Your soul and body even as I possess,
      Who marked your passions in its nakedness
      And all your love-sins when your love was new.
       
      They saw as I your quivering breast, and drew
      Nearer to the consuming flame that burns
      Deep to the marrow of my bone, and turns
      My heart to love even as theirs who knew
      From head to girdle each sweet curve of you,
      Each little way of loving. No caress,
      But apes the part of former loves. Ah yes,
      Even thus your hand toyed in the locks of him
      Who came before me. Was he fair of limb
      Or very dark? What matter, with such lures
      You snared the hearts of all your paramours!
       
      To-night I feel the presence of the others,
      Your lovers were they and are now my brothers
      And I have nothing that has not been theirs,
      No single bloom the tree of passion bears
      They have not plucked. Belovèd, can it be?
      Is there no gift that you reserve for me--
      No loving kindness or no subtle sin,
      No secret shrine that none has entered in,
      Whither no mocking memories pursue
      Love's wistful pilgrim? I am weary too,
      With weariness of all your lovers, when
      I follow in the ways of other men,
      I know each spot of your sweet body is
      A cross, the tombstone of some perished kiss.
      A touch ... and an innumerable host
      Of shadows rises ... at each side a ghost.
      Withal its beauty and its faultless grace
      Your body, dearest, is a haunted place.
      When I did yield to passion's swift demand,
      One of your lovers touched me with his hand.
      And in the pangs of amorous delight
      I hear strange voices calling through the night. 
       
       
Love Sonnet I

By Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973)

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.


I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.


I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,


And I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Open Letter to Aggressive, Macho Young Men



An Open Letter To the Young Men Of America


Dear Young Man,

I understand young males have many issues. Your world is filled with conflicts: teachers, friends, parents -- all of those who care for you can appear to lack sympathy for the problems you face. You must realize your own emotions can betray you, and you may be confused at times. Believe me, there are people who realize the stress of growing up and there are those who do love you.

The teen years can be troublesome times when others view you as a child one minute and as an adult the next when, in truth, you are neither. With one foot in both worlds, you must learn to face new experiences, gain people's trust, and extend your independence while you tend to your "dependent independence." 

General Lewis B. Hershey once said, "A boy becomes an adult three years before his parents think he does, and about two years after he thinks he does."

You are caught in the impossible bind of living up to society's conception of the new male -- someone caring and yet physically and mentally tough. This puts you in the dilemma of being very sensitive while subscribing to traditional ideas about needing to be macho.

One teen boy's complaint was typical. "When I try to be sensitive and caring, girls ignore me," he said. "They want to go out with the jocks. When I play the tough, dominant guy, they complain that I'm harassing them. How can I win?" The answers come only through time and experience, and if you are like most young people, patience is not one of your strong points.

So, it is natural that you may feel downright insecure in your skin. Some of you lack support at home and struggle to gain essential privileges with a lack of resources. Everyone wants to gain power and control during their teen years, and without much help, you may find yourself feeling alone and vulnerable to others you conceive as a threat.

This frustration with life my lead you to cover up your insecurities with strategies that seem to work to eliminate these threats. One such teen said he felt as if he was at "an intersection of a feverish and all-encompassing desire to appear worldly and an absolute lack of worldliness." It may be hard to conceive a proper direction to take when you are overwhelmed with simply being acknowledged and being appreciated.

Indeed, people should extend you a hand. But, what if few, or even none, do? This is why some young men intimidate other peers: they find attacking others before they get attacked is a good way to hide their fears of self-doubt. The problem with this behavior is that these pushy teens begin to feel powerful, and, therefore, they continue to try to exert control over others to gain more attention. 

I understand these young men are not necessarily "bad people" when they do some teasing and minor manipulation to get their way, but when they feel others around them are "bad people deserving of their bullying," their brains often become intoxicated with power. They become reckless and unemphatic toward others. They don't just tease or have a little fun, rather they act with aggression in order to increase their own status. 

Young man, if you choose to gain friends by intimidating people, sooner or later everyone is going to get hurt. You will be hurt because you will eventually find that domination only feeds your own sense of receiving warped recognition. In other words, people just pretend to like you because they fear you -- actually, they dread being around you. And, naturally, pushing others around only leads to your own personal problems with authorities at home and at school.

Even more horrifying, bullying others may traumatize them, causing them severe psychological damage. Some of those you think are "weird" or worthy of your disgust are lonely just like you. The difference is that these lonely souls lack a positive outlet for escape. As you attempt to crush them into submission, you, instead, break their will. Your control can make them feel that their lives are empty and tedious, and feeling powerless to resist, they believe existence is futile. I don't have to tell you what some of these helpless youth will do -- let's understand harm will certainly follow. 

And, young man, just because you have excellent self-esteem, you must not use others to be the big man on campus. It has been discovered that bullies usually have a strong sense of entitlement and superiority over others while they lack compassion, impulse control and social skills. These dominant males cast blame for the bad things in their lives upon others, so they often lash out with violence and aggression as they seek attention. They can become villains with uncontrollable masochistic tendencies.

It frightens me to learn that some research studies have found that according to their peers “bullies are, by far, the coolest kids. And the victims, in turn, are very uncool.” This is especially true in middle schools -- both in male and female populations. Students said the coolest kids "start fights or push other kids around" and "spread nasty rumors about other kids." (Jaana Juvonen. The Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2013)

In fact, I have read in some cases, the bigger, stronger teens create a social hierarchy and appoint themselves the leaders: the bullies are clearly in charge, gaining power and status that translate to a big-time ego boost. Some schools have become jungles where survival of the fittest is actually practiced and appreciated.

Yes, wicked people in our society have put an ugly premium on the primal tendency to rely on dominance behaviors. I am very sorry you have to mature in these conditions. I promise you love conquers all, and those who practice loving behavior do triumph.

Please, understand there is no such thing as "harmless" name-calling or an "innocent' punch."

I beg you, as a maturing young man, do not become a part of this insane admiration. I ask you to help stop it. Don't reward bullies by being one yourself or by rewarding them with thinking they're "cool." 

I challenge you to become active in reporting bullying and cyberbullying to parents, teachers, and school counselors. You can also tell friends about incidents that threaten people. Don't simply ignore bad behavior -- you are not being a "rat" when you are proactive and you stop an aggressive incident from happening.

You can "stand up" in many ways. Just never be a rebel without a cause. Sometimes fighting the power is gut-wrenching and terrifying, yet never bow to evil. Seek help: it is there.

I know you are told over and over "bullying is not tolerated." You may be tired of hearing the directive, but as a loving human being and a growing man, you can help erase harmful behavior that destroys young lives. 

You see, the more understanding you develop now about tolerating all decent human beings, no matter how foreign they seem to you, the more you will gain in the future -- that includes respect, friends, and love. And remember, an apology is an act of courage, so when you do become a little too forceful, listen to you conscience and make amends. Don't delay as each minute may be crucial to someone else.

Sincerely,
Frank R. Thompson
Father, High School Teacher, Editorial Writer, and Believer in Youth





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Queen Elizabeth's Bust: Estimate and Morphine



King Richard III:
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!

Catesby:
Withdraw, my lord; I'll help you to a horse.

King Richard III:
Slave! I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die.

 (William Shakespeare, Richard The Third, Act 5, Scene 4)
 
Wow, guess who just got busted? 
Would you believe Britain's Queen Elizabeth II? 

Well ... sort of. You see, Estimate, a champion racehorse owned by the queen has tested positive for morphine, a banned substance on race days in the United Kingdom. The five-year-old filly is under investigation.


Oh, the embarrassment! Yet, could this "horsy" drug abuse have been just an unavoidable, accidental mistake?

"The British Horseracing Authority announced last week that tests on five horses under the care of various trainers showed the presence of morphine in their 'A' samples. Late Tuesday, Buckingham Palace said that one of the horses was the monarch's 5-year-old mare Estimate

"The Daily Telegraph reports that 'the horse will likely forfeit its second-place finish in the Gold Cup at Ascot this past June, as well as the prize money of 80,625 pounds ($137,671).'


"A statement released by Buckingham Palace late Tuesday said that the Queen had been made aware of the positive test, and said the result was likely due to the horse's consumption of contaminated feed. Morphine is allowed to be used while training horses as either a painkiller or sedative."

 (Associated Press. "Champion Racehorse Owned by Queen Elizabeth II 
Fails Drug Test. Fox News. July 23, 2014)


Much to her delight, the Queen become the first reigning British monarch with a winning horse in Royal Ascot's biggest race in 2013. But, Leading Light won the Gold Cup on June 19, 2014, denying Queen Elizabeth II's horse Estimate a second consecutive victory in Royal Ascot's most prestigious race.

A possible explanation for the positive reaction to morphine is contaminated food. One of Britian’s major feed merchants, Dodson and Horrell, issuing a statement last week that one of its suppliers had notified them “of a possible component contamination.”

The Queen’s bloodstock and racing advisor John Warren released a statement to the effect that Estimate was one of five horses that tested positive to morphine and that the Queen has been notified.

(Mark Mazzaglia. "Queen’s Horse Estimate Tested Positive to Morphine."
horseracing.com. July 23, 2014)

Estimate (middle)

If it is proven that the presence of morphine was accidental and related to food contamination, trainer Sir Michael Stoute will escape any penalty, as will the other trainers that have been caught up in the unfortunate situation. Sir Michael continues to offer his full co-operation to the investigation.

The Queen is one of the world’s highest profile thoroughbred owners and has raced horses for sixty years with more than one thousand, six hundred winners.


When Estimate won the Gold Cup at Ascot in 2013, Elizabeth II was ecstatic. Footage of her royal reaction was played on the big screen at Ascot, much to the delight of the crowd. Tom Sykes of The Daily Beast reported: "It's definitely the happiest I have ever seen the Queen! Look at that royal grin!"

(Tom Sykes. "Queen Goes Nuts (For Her) As Horse Wins Gold Cup." 
The Daily Beast. June 20, 2013)

Perhaps the grins have vanished and red faces rule the day in 2014. In a rather ironic case of nomenclature, previously Britain's most publicized case of a horse testing positive for morphine was "Be My Royal" after he had won the 2002 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. The horse was subsequently disqualified.

Whatever the findings, this matter must hit close to the queen's heart. It is reported at 88 she still enjoys her daily horseback rides and loves a day at the races. She even made sure to be back from her D-Day commemoration trip to Paris in time to be in Surrey for the Epsom Derby on June 7 of this year. According to the Daily Mail,  her majesty enjoys riding through Windsor Great Park with her Fell pony named Cartlonlima Emma.