Posted by ESC on August 29, 2003
In Reply to: A barber's hands posted by GPP on August 28, 2003
: : Anyone out there in the world know what where the line "Power is hideous / Like a barber's hands" comes from? Agha Shahid Ali uses it in "The Blessed Word: A prologue." I need to know. It keeps me awake. I wonder in the shower. I wonder on the street. Etc.
: I have no idea about this quotation, but for ages the much more important function of a barber was shaving men rather than simply cutting their hair; and of course a straight razor was used--one had to trust his skill in the vicinity of your throat. Also, there were no real surgeons until around the middle of the 19th C; barbers performed whatever surgery was required--primarily 'bleeding' people--which is the origin of the red-striped 'barber pole' advertising their trade.
I couldn't find it in either Bartlett's or the Oxford book of quotes. Sorry.