Monday, March 25, 2013

Star On Which These Eyes Have Seldom Closed

Without some early encouragement, how many of us would have continued to write, to draw, to cut up books for collage, to sculpt, to experiment with cooking, with hair dye or make-up? Praise may have been scanty, but had there been none at all, who would have persisted?

At 18 I had more or less given up on writing. But moving away from my home town, to Indianapolis, I found that I missed one particular young lady friend. So I wrote Kara a longish letter. In her reply, she told me that she had loved the letter, had laughed out loud, and even had read parts of it to her father. Her praise revived for me the early desire to write poetry.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jellicle Cats Are Black And White

As a kid I was a long term subscriber to Cricket magazine. It was a wonderful magazine full of real literature, but packaged for kids. Clifton Fadiman, the initial editor/publisher, assumed that talking down to children wasn't really necessary. In its pages I made my first acquaintance with Isaac Bashivas Singer, Lloyd Alexander, Langston Hughes, ee cummings, Carl Sandburg, Pamela Travers and many other brilliant writers.

At some point during our subscription, we purchased a recording from the magazine of some of its top pieces. Included among the gems on this disk was TS Eliot reading his own poem, Jellicle Cats. I loved the poem; soon I had it memorized and would recite it, even imitating his British accent. To hear him you'd never know he was born in St Louis, Missouri, just a few hours drive from where I live.

Never did it matter to me that I had no clue what "terpsichorean powers" were. I was in high school before I thought to look it up and learned about the muses,

Monday, March 11, 2013

No Mind To Learn Or To Understand

My day started very early, hours before the sun bothered to think about rising. Revisiting the town of my childhood, I'm overwhelmed by the remembrance of all those years. Unlike Fru Aashild in the following excerpt from Kristin Lavransdatter, my glory years, if there are any, lie not in my youth but in the days yet to come. Still, her words ring true to me today.

To set the stage: Young Kristin and her little sister Ulvhild are happy children, until some stacked wood rolls and destroys Ulvhild's back, crippling the girl. When the priest and his prayers, and the fasting and prayers of the girls' mother avails nothing, the mother sends for Fru Aashild who tends to the sick with treatments that pre-dated the Christian era of Norway. Kristin has been shyly watching the older woman,

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lighted Coffins In The Dark

The Sleepers

AS I walked down the waterside
This silent morning, wet and dark;

Before the cocks in farmyards crowed,
Before the dogs began to bark;

Before the hour of five was struck
By old Westminster's mighty clock:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Feet Of Fire And Heads Of Ice

Old Ogden Nash can complain, but if he had had the cold I've had this week--with bonfires in my lungs and skin that aches at the merest touch--I doubt he'd have bothered writing about it. He'd have been too busy adding honey to his lemon tea and pulling the comforter closer around his legs and telephoning his editor to come add another log to the fire.


Common Cold

Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I'm not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Soul That Hath A Guest

The Soul that hath a Guest
Doth seldom go abroad--
Diviner Crowd at Home--
Obliterate the need--

And Courtesy forbid
A Host's departure when
Upon Himself be visiting
The Emporer of Men--

Emily Dickinson