daily preciousness

Sunday, May 16, 2004

pungent stings and guilty passions

It was in the hand's graceful arc 'round the clock face,

In the moon's ellipse through the sky,

In the clever, canny calendar of an eclipse and among the rolling hills alongside the Potomac. Inside these circles, Benjamin found himself. And moments of brilliance found him.

From the Gale Resource Center's Gay and Lesbian Biography:

Pungent Stings and Guilty Passions

Throughout his life, Banneker never married, and there is no evidence of his ever being romantically involved with a woman, a fact which has led many historians to speculate that he may have been homosexual. Some unwitting self-revelation is evident between the lines of some of his early essays, including one cited by Bedini where Banneker claims that poverty, disease and violence are more tolerable than the "pungent stings .. . which guilty passions dart into the heart."

Banneker's self-isolation and love of drink is sometimes cited as at least a partial explanation for his lifelong bachelorhood. But his grandmother, parents, and sisters were known to be people of considerable Christian dominance, and he always lived under their supervision. His father died when Banneker was 28 years old, leaving him as the sole caretaker of farm and family. The responsibility, says Bedini, "he assumed with his customary seriousness [at] an age when he would have been seeking a wife." As he grew older, his reliance on the Bible as a daily guide to living may have hindered any natural homosexual tendencies.

I'm so glad that I read this! I was just following the end-of-the-chapter advice to "select a person mentioned in this chapter and learn more about him. Make a journal entry notes about what you learn." Brilliant!

And so I did.


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