“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man”
This morning, The Poetry Foundation sent me an e-mail with their featured poem of the day. It was “La Figlia che Piange,” which I translated using my limited Italian ability to mean “The Daughter who Cried” or “Daughter Crying,” by Thomas Stearns Eliot. Today, marks his birthday.
T.S. Eliot was one of the 20th century greatest poets. American by birth – he was born in 1888 in St. Louis Missouri – he became a British Citizen when he turned thirty-nine in 1927. He was complex, brilliant and controversial. Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, he is known for some of our best known poems in the English Language: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and The Hollow Men.
I am celebrating his birthday today with his poem “Cousin Nancy!”
By T.S. Eliot
Miss Nancy Ellicott
Strode across the hills and broke them,
Rode across the hills and broke them —
The barren New England hills —
Riding to hounds
Over the cow-pasture.
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
By William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Today is William Shakespeare’s birthday. The Bard of Avon, whose words expressed the joys and tragedies of humanity, our gratitude…
“As an unperfect actor upon the stage
Who with much fear is put besides his part
Or some fierce thing, replete with too much rage
Whose strengths abundance weakens his own heart
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s rite
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay
O’ercharged with burthen of my own love’s might
o, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast
Who plead for love, and look for recompense
More than that tongue that more hath express’d.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ
To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.”
William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets
“I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Today, in 1892, Edna St. Vincent Millay rushed into this world. Born in Rockland, Maine, her parents were Cora Lounella, a nurse, and Henry Tollman Millay, a school teacher. She had two sisters, Norma and Kathleen. Her mother divorced her father in 1904 for financial irresponsibility although they had been separated for several years. Cora and her daughters moved from town to town, living in gentile poverty. Everywhere they went, they carried with them a trunk full of classic literature including Shakespeare and Milton.
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.