Dickens and his Beard

When remonstrated with upon this ” disfigurement,” Dickens responded that “the beard saved him the trouble of shaving, and much as he admired his own appearance before he allowed his beard to grow, he admired it much more now, and never neglected, when an opportunity offered, to gaze his fill at himself. If his friends didn’t like his looks, he was not at all anxious for them to waste their time in studying them…Besides, he had been told by some of his friends that they highly approved of the change, because they now saw less of him.” He was, indeed, delighted with these adornments, and says, ” the moustaches are glorious, glorious. I have cut them shorter, and trimmed them a little at the ends to improve their shape. They are charming, charming. Without them, life would be a blank.”

From “Charles Dickens and His Friends” by W. Teignmouth Shore, 1909. full text

0 thoughts on “Dickens and his Beard

  1. DL Emerick

    Facial hair. Ever and always an annoyance.

    As I have aged,
    more in the last few years than in many years before,
    the top of my head began to bald,
    my hair all over my body, such as I have, began graying,
    the hair in, on, around my ears began to grow, absurdly.

    Undeterred by such hairy masses,
    I started growing a mustache — a bristly thing.
    I would have tried a beard, as I had in my hippier days,
    but the experiment back then
    led two young nieces to name me “Uncle Doggy” —
    leading to the quick shaving of that, my only beard.

    The mustache was ok, for awhile.
    I tried shaving my head completely,
    to see what baldness felt like —
    and earned many comments at my latter-day shtetl —
    a Jewish community on the outer edge of the Diaspora —
    where my yarmulke did not quite hide my shining dome.
    But time passed, and novelty fades.

    As my hair grew back in,
    strange women at bars would come up to me,
    asking to pet my stubbly head,
    so cute and shiny did it seem.

    I shaved my mustache away.
    Enough of that I thought,
    though I grew it back again,
    and shaved it off again —
    nobody much noticing me anymore.

    Now, I stand in front of mirrors,
    tweezers in hand,
    plucking each hair out by its roots,
    when it dares to poke me in the face.