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Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters
By Marilyn Monroe, Stanley Buchthal, Bernard Comment
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Copyright © 2010 LSAS International, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Norma Jeane married James Dougherty when she turned sixteen, the age of consent in California, on June 19, 1942, thereby escaping the threat of being returned to an orphanage when her foster family moved out of state. Dougherty was born in April 1921 and was five years older than she was. At the end of 1943, the young couple settled for a few months on Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles, a fashionable resort before the war. It is likely that this long note, uncharacteristically typed, was written at this time. One can't help being surprised, even impressed, by the maturity of this seventeen-year-old girl, whose feelings of disillusionment are plain from the first sentence, as she examines her marriage and what she expects from life, and faces the fear of her husband's betrayal. Nevertheless, the disjointedness of the text reveals turbulent emotions. The "other woman" she mentions might be a reference to Doris Ingram, her young husband's former girlfriend and a Santa Barbara beauty queen. The couple were divorced on September 13, 1946.
Marilyn Monroe wrote poemlike texts or fragments on loose-leaf paper and in notebooks. She showed her work only to intimate friends, in particular to Norman Rosten, a college friend of Arthur Miller with whom she became very close. A Brooklyn-based novelist, he encouraged Marilyn to continue writing. In the book he wrote about her (Marilyn Among Friends), he concluded, "She had the instinct and reflexes of the poet, but she lacked the control."
It is likely that the poetic form, or more generally the fragment, allowed her to express short, lightning bursts of feeling — but who could hear that frail voice, the very opposite of the radiant star? Arthur Miller wrote strikingly: "To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was. Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes."
I am of both of your directions
Somehow remaining hanging downward
but strong as a cobweb in the
wind — I exist more with the cold glistening frost.
But my beaded rays have the colors I've
seen in a paintings — ah life they
have cheated you
Note: Marilyn apparently wrote several variations on the theme of the twofold course of life ("life in both directions") and the delicate, sometimes invisible "cobweb," revealed by dew and resistant to wind — in particular a poem entitled "To the Weeping Willow" that was published in Norman Rosten's book about Marilyn: "I stood beneath your limbs / And you flowered and finally / clung to me, / and when the wind struck with the earth / and sand — you clung to me. / Thinner than a cobweb I, / sheerer than any — / but it did attach itself / and held fast in strong winds / life — of which at singular times / I am both of your directions — / somehow I remain hanging downward the most, / as both of your directions pull me."
Oh damn I wish that I were
dead — absolutely nonexistent —
gone away from here — from
everywhere but how would I do it
There is always bridges — the Brooklyn
bridge — no not the Brooklyn Bridge
becauseBut I love that bridge (everything is beautiful from there
and the air is so clean) walking it seems
peacefulthere even with all those
cars going crazy underneath. So
it would have to be some other bridge
an ugly one and with no view — except
Iparticularly like in particular all bridges — there's some
thing about them and besides these I've
never seen an ugly bridge
Stones on the walk
every color there is
I stare down at you
like those the a horizon —
the space / the air is between us beckoning
and I am many stories besides up
my feet are frightened
from my as I grasp for towards you
Only parts of us will ever
touch only parts of others —
one's own truth is just
that really — one's own truth.
We can only share the
part that is understood by within another's knowing acceptable to
the other — therefore so one
is for most part alone.
As it is meant to be in evidently in nature — at best though perhaps it could make
our understanding seek
another's loneliness out.
I can't really stand Human
Beings sometimes — I know
they all have their problems
as I have mine — but I'm really too tired for it. Trying to understand,
making allowances, seeing certain things
that just weary me.
On Hospital gowns
is out the air
in the air
when I'm not aware
Last 6 — quartets
Ravel — the Waltz
Bartok — quartets of his
continued on other side
of list of records
"RECORD" BLACK NOTEBOOK
As she often did, Marilyn filled only a few pages of this notebook, about twelve out of the hundred and fifty it contains and at obviously distinct periods. The first pages open with a heartfelt "Alone!!!" followed by reflections on fear and feelings that can't be put into words; these were probably jotted down in response to acting classes, which may have been those given by Michael Chekhov that she started attending in September 1951. On page 135 of the notebook, there is a poignant text about the panicky fear that sometimes overtook her when she was about to shoot a scene because of her dread of disappointing; her deep-seated sense that, despite the good work she had done, the bad outweighed it, sapping her confidence. Here the language is very strong: "depressed mad."
On page 146, she jotted down in pencil one of the few lines she delivered in Love Nest (1951), a film by Joseph M. Newman, in the supporting but nonetheless crucial role of Roberta Stevens, who was the former wartime (girl?)friend of the hero, Jim Scott. The notes on pages 148 and 149 of the notebook indicate diligent reading on the Florentine Renaissance, unless they are class notes from courses she attended at UCLA in the fall of 1950, after she had already begun acting in films. However, this school-like exercise is surrounded by an older story that most likely preceded her star status, as she writes of traveling in a crowded bus. Could this have been the same bus in which she met sixty likable Italian sailors, then a headily perfumed Filipino boy, ending up, half-crushed by a sleeping five-year-old almost slipping from his young mother's arms, in the middle of sailors far too young to feel sad?
I am alone — I am always
no matter what.
There is nothing to fear
but fear itself
What do I believe in
What is truth
I believe in myself
even my most delicate
in the end everything is
my most precious liquid must
never spill don't spill your precious liquid
they are all my feelings
no matter what
My feeling doesn't
happen to swell
into words —
Note: Rupert Allan met Marilyn in 1959. As the West Coast editor of Look magazine, he had secured Marilyn her first cover photo, which appeared on June 3, 1952. This may explain her reference "Look Mag." Subsequently, Rupert Allan became Marilyn's press agent and remained such up until the end of the filming of The Misfits, when he accepted Grace Kelly's offer to work for her in Monaco.
Actress must have no mouth
shoulder girdle hangs light
focus my thought on
the partner —
feeling in the end of
Nothing must come
between me and my
part — my feeling —
The feeling only
getting rid of everything
my mind speaks
letting go — face feeling
listening to the body for
listen with the eyes
loose — having no brakes
letting go of everything.
feeling only — all I have to
do is think it. How do
I hear the melody — the
Tone springs from emotion
Tone — groans and moans — "I'm (animals — "down to the hogs")
so sick" — hums from
with cat — hum — nice kitty soft.
starts from below my feet
feet — all in my feet.
What is my pantomime playing with
How is my head?
as if I might never
down down in back.
pulling up from here.
right tension stomach
Fear of giving me the lines new
maybe won't be able to learn them
maybe I'll make mistakes
people will either think I'm no good or
laugh or belittle me or think I can't act.
Women looked stern and critical —
unfriendly and cold in general
afraid director won't think I'm any good.
remembering when I couldn't do a god
then trying to build myself up with the
fact that I have done things right that
were even good and have had moments
that were excellent but the bad is heavier
to carry around and feel have no confidence
are you the janitor's
caught a Greyhound
Bus from Monterey
to Salinas. On the
Bus I was the only person
woman with about
sixty italian fishermen
and I've never met
sixty such charming gentlemen — they
were wonderful. Some
company was sending them
downstate where their boats
and (they hoped) fish were
waiting for them. Some
could hardly speak english
not only do I love Greeks
[illegible] I love Italians.
they're so warm, lusty and friendly
as hell — I'd love to go to
The sentence of the notebook is one of the few lines Marilyn had to say in Love Nest (1951), so we may assume that these notes — at any rate, the ones written in pencil — date from the same period.
In February 1948, Marilyn went to the California towns of Salinas and Castroville in order to promote diamond sales in two jewelry stores. She stayed at the Jeffery Hotel in Salinas for a week.
Medici 1400 AD–1748
Prototype — first type
Giovanni di Bicci first foundling home
Bronze doors in the
in Florence 1424
Ghiberti 23 perspective
used his great architect
Masaccio 1401–1428 father of modern art (reality
poverty careless about his painting)
life except his painting —
Giovanni di Bicci responsible
for him. His work never recognized
until after his death.
The Pantheon — temple
Greek philosophy — golden mean
(neither too big — or too small)
kept ousted old pope
gave money for temples for Brunelleschi
elected him Signoria
Gonfaloniere (governing body)
Grande — nobles
Macchiavelli (1469–1527) Botticelli
damn near broke my back
and dislocated my neck trying not to
sleep all over the filipino boy
Moved my seat when a
[illegible] left the bus — the
only empty seat so
I left mine for so the
girl could sit her kid
down and I took the
other seat. It was next to
a filipino boy and
he smelled good like
Excerpted from Fragments by Marilyn Monroe, Stanley Buchthal, Bernard Comment. Copyright © 2010 LSAS International, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
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