I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind: Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,— They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve. More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
Hungry for music with a desperate hunger I prowled abroad, I threaded through the town; The evening crowd was clamouring and drinking, Vulgar and pitiful–my heart bowed down– Till I remembered duller hours made noble By strangers clad in some suprising grace. Wait, wait my soul, your music comes ere midnight Appearing in some unexpected place With quivering lips, and gleaming, moonlit face.
Darkness Hungry Prowlsby Goff James
Vachel Lindsay (1879 – 1931) was an American poet. He is considered a founder of modern singing poetry, as he referred to it, in which verses are meant to be sung or chanted.
Lindsay’s fame as a poet grew in the 1910s. Because Harriet Monroe showcased him with two other Illinois poets—Carl Sandburg and Edgar Lee Masters—his name became linked to theirs. The success of either of the other two, in turn, seemed to help the third.
Lindsay, a versatile and prolific writer and poet, helped to “keep alive the appreciation of poetry as a spoken art” whose poetry was said to “abound in meter and rhymes and is no shredded prose”, had a traditional verse structure and was described by a contemporary in 1924 as “pungent phrases, clinging cadences, dramatic energy, comic thrust, lyric seriousness and tragic intensity”.
In 1932, Edgar Lee Masters published an article on modern poetry in The American Mercury that praised Lindsay extensively and wrote a biography of Lindsay in 1935 (four years after its subject’s death) entitled Vachel Lindsay: A Poet in America.
Lindsay’s biographer, Dennis Camp, says that Lindsay’s ideas on “civic beauty and civic tolerance” were published in 1912 in his broadside “The Gospel of Beauty” and that later, in 1915, Lindsay published the first American study of film as an art form, The Art of The Moving Picture. Camp notes that on Lindsay’s tombstone is recorded a single word, “Poet”.
The Choir And Music Of Solitude And Silence by Delmore Schwartz
Today’s Silence Scribed
Today’s silence scribed The peal of tomorrow calls Yesterday’s dreams stilled
Delmore Schwartz(1913 -1966), American poet, short-story writer, and literary critic noted for his lyrical descriptions of cultural alienation and the search for identity.
Educated at the University of Wisconsin, New York University, and Harvard University, Schwartz later taught at Harvard and at a number of other schools.
Schwartz first book, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities (1939), which brought him immediate fame, included the short story of the title and a group of poems remarkable for their lyric beauty and imaginative power.
Schwartz subsequent publications included Shenandoah (1941), a verse play; Genesis, Book I (1943), a long introspective poem; The World Is a Wedding (1948) and Successful Love, and Other Stories (1961), short stories dealing primarily with middle-class Jewish family life.
Schwartz lucid and sensitive literary criticism was published in various periodicals.
Schwartz served as an editor for Partisan Review (1943–55) and The New Republic (1955–57).
In 1959, he became the youngest-ever recipient of the Bollingen Prize, awarded for a collection of poetry he published that year, Summer Knowledge: New and Selected Poems (1938-1958).
Schwatz poetry differed from his stories in that it was less autobiographical and more philosophical. His verse also became increasingly abstract in his later years.
In addition to being known as a gifted writer, Schwartz was considered a great conversationalist and spent much time entertaining friends at the White Horse Tavern in New York City.
Much of Schwartz’s work is notable for its philosophical and deeply meditative nature, and the literary critic, R.W. Flint, wrote that Schwartz’s stories were “the definitive portrait of the Jewish middle class in New York during the Depression.”
In particular, Schwartz emphasized the large divide that existed between his generation (which came of age during the Depression) and his parents’ generation (who had often come to the United States as first-generation immigrants and whose idealistic view of America differed greatly from his own).
In another take on Schwartz’s fiction, Morris Dickstein wrote that “Schwartz’s best stories are either poker-faced satirical takes on the bohemians and outright failures of his generation, as in ‘The World Is a Wedding’ and ‘New Year’s Eve,’ or chronicles of the distressed lives of his parents’ generation, for whom the promise of American life has not panned out.”
A selection of his short stories was published posthumously in 1978 under the title In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories and was edited by James Atlas who had written a biography of Schwartz, Delmore Schwartz: The Life of An American Poet, two years earlier.
Later, another collection of Schwartz’s work, Screeno: Stories & Poems, was published in 2004. This collection contained fewer stories than In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories but it also included a selection of some of Schwartz’s best-known poems like “The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me” and “In The Naked Bed, In Plato’s Cave”.
The brilliant but mentally unstable Schwartz was the model for the title character in Saul Bellow’s novel Humboldt’s Gift (1975).
Rain in the city Night-time roams neath umbrellas Distant siren sings
Robert Frost, (1874 – 1963), American poet who was much admired for his depictions of the rural life of New England, his command of American colloquial speech, and his realistic verse portraying ordinary people in everyday situations.
Frost first achieved professional publication in 1894 when The Independent, a weekly literary journal, printed his poem “My Butterfly: An Elegy.”
By 1911 Frost was fighting against discouragement. Poetry had always been considered a young person’s game, but Frost, who was nearly 40 years old, had not published a single book of poems and had seen just a handful appear in magazines.
In 1911 Frost inherited the farm where he lived. A momentous decision was made: to sell the farm and use the proceeds to make a radical new start in London, where publishers were perceived to be more receptive to new talent.
In 1912 the Frost family sailed across the Atlantic to England.
Frost carried with him sheaves of verses he had written but not been able to get into print. English publishers in London did indeed prove more receptive to innovative verse, and, through his own vigorous efforts and those of the expatriate American poet Ezra Pound, Frost within a year had published A Boy’s Will (1913). From this first book, such poems as “Storm Fear,” “The Tuft of Flowers,” and “Mowing” became standard anthology pieces.
A Boy’s Will was followed in 1914 by a second collection, North of Boston, that introduced some of the most popular poems in all of Frost’s work, among them “Mending Wall,” “The Death of the Hired Man,” “Home Burial,” and “After Apple-Picking.”
In London, Frost’s name was frequently mentioned by those who followed the course of modern literature, and soon American visitors were returning home with news of this unknown poet who was causing a sensation abroad.
The Boston poet Amy Lowell traveled to England in 1914, and in the bookstores there she encountered Frost’s work.
Taking his books home to America, Lowell then began a campaign to locate an American publisher for them, meanwhile writing her own laudatory review of North of Boston.
Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost
I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain—and back in rain. I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane. I have passed by the watchman on his beat And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet When far away an interrupted cry Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye; And further still at an unearthly height, One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. I have been one acquainted with the night.
Conductor’s baton raised The orchestra starts to play Emotions explode
Walt Whitman(1819 -1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works.
Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sensuality.
The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892.
At age 11, Whitman left formal schooling to go to work. Later, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, and a government clerk.
During the American Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C. and worked in hospitals caring for the wounded.
Whitman’s poetry often focused on both loss and healing. On the death of Abraham Lincoln, whom Whitman greatly admired, he wrote his well known poems, “O Captain! My Captain!” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”, and gave a series of lectures.
Whitman’s influence on poetry remains strong.
Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe argued:
“You cannot really understand America without Walt Whitman, without Leaves of Grass … He has expressed that civilization, ‘up to date,’ as he would say, and no student of the philosophy of history can do without him.”
Modernist poet Ezra Pound called Whitman,
“America’s poet … He is America.”
That Music Always Round Me by Walt Whitman
That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning— yet long untaught I did not hear; But now the chorus I hear, and am elated; A tenor, strong, ascending, with power and health, with glad notes of day-break I hear, A soprano, at intervals, sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense waves, A transparent bass, shuddering lusciously under and through the universe, The triumphant tutti—the funeral wailings, with sweet flutes and violins—all these I fill myself with; I hear not the volumes of sound merely— I am moved by the exquisite meanings, I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving, contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other in emotion; I do not think the performers know themselves— but now I think I begin to know them.
Lost in the darkness Pain’s scarred music piping seeps Nightmares dancing burn
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 -1926) was a German / Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. He is “widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets”. He wrote both verse and highly lyrical prose.
Several critics have described Rilke’s work as “mystical”.
Rilke’s writings include one novel, several collections of poetry and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude and anxiety.
These themes position him as a transitional figure between traditional and modernist writers.
Rilke travelled extensively throughout Europe (including Russia, Spain, Germany, France and Italy) and, in his later years, settled in Switzerland – settings that were key to the genesis and inspiration for many of his poems.
While Rilke is most known for his contributions to German literature, over 400 poems were originally written in French and dedicated to the canton of Valais in Switzerland.
Among English-language readers, his best-known works include the poetry collections Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien) and Sonnets to Orpheus (Die Sonette an Orpheus), the semi-autobiographical novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge), and a collection of ten letters that was published after his death under the title Letters to a Young Poet (Briefe an einen jungen Dichter).
In the later 20th century, his work found new audiences through use by New Age theologians and self-help authors[ and frequent quotations by television programmes, books and motion pictures.
In the United States, Rilke remains among the more popular, best-selling poets.
1 Insomnia (from Five for Country Music) by Lisel Mueller
Unable to Sleep
Unable to sleep Midnight’s starlit music plays Restless fantasy
Lisel Mueller(1924 -2020) German-born American poet known for her warm introspective poetry. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1997 for her volume Alive Together: New and Selected Poems.
Mueller fled Nazi Germany for the United States with her mother and sister in 1939.
Her father had been a political dissident and had already left Europe, in 1937; he acquired a professorship. It was those early experiences that inspired themes pertaining to a cultural and family history in her poems.
The death of her mother in 1953 prompted Mueller to begin writing in earnest. In “When I Am Asked” she wrote,
I sat on a gray stone bench ringed with the ingenue faces of pink and white impatiens and placed my grief in the mouth of language, the only thing that would grieve with me.
Drawn to the modernist school of writing, Mueller was influenced by such poets as W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Mueller’s lyrical poetry bends toward the mythological, depicting fantastic characters and dreamlike milieus with the sturdy, accessible diction often found in folklore.
Robert William Service, (1874 -1958)the renowned poet of the Yukon, was born in England, The son of a bank cashier, Service was the eldest of four siblings. At the age of five, Service went to Scotland to live with his grandfather and three young aunts.He rejoined his family in 1883 when they too moved to Scotland.
Service attended the University of Glasgow to study English Literature. He was quickly identified as one of the brightest in his class, though he also proved to be a bit audacious.
His essay on Ophelia’s questionable “purity” in Hamlet was received with disgust by his professor, who called Service’s interpretation of the text obscene. Not content with such a response, Service challenged the professor to a fight outside the classroom; the challenge was declined. After a year, the embittered young poet left the university.
Soon afterwards his interests realigned with his aims for adventure. His reading turned to Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson, and their stories of world explorers in search of fortune and, more important, their own identity.
In 1895, at the age of twenty-one, with a significant amount of savings, Robert announced his dream of going to Western Canada to become a cowboy. He soon set sail for Montreal with only his suitcase and a letter of reference from the bank where he had been working.
Upon arrival, Service took a train across Canada to Vancouver Island, where he lived for many years and gathered much of the material for what became his most celebrated poems.
Many of his experiences working on cowboy ranches, and the colourful personalities he met during his travels around the West, eventually found their place in his work.
Numerous publications followed, including Songs of a Sourdough, published in 1907, which won wide acclaim.
His forty-five verse collections accumulated over one thousand poems, the most famous of which include “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” “The Shooting of Dan McGrew,” and “The Men That Don’t Fit In.”
To add to his poetic output, Service wrote two autobiographies, Ploughman of the Moon (1945) and Harper of Heaven (1948), as well as six novels.
His poem about Dan McGrew and several of his novels were adapted to film. The poet himself managed even to garner an acting credit, appearing briefly opposite Marlene Dietrich in the 1942 movie The Spoilers.
Service is often referred to as “the Canadian Kipling” for rollicking ballads of the “frozen North”.
Service served as an ambulance driver during World War I, after which he published Rhymes of a Red Cross Man (Barse & Hopkins, 1916), a collection of mostly war poems.
By the end of his life, his prolific and prosperous career in poetry had earned him the distinction—as stated in an obituary in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph—as
Flowers in Winter (Excerpt) by John Greenleaf Whittier
Morning Wakes Frost Bound
Morning wakes frost bound Winter’s fragile light gleams pale Silence white robed clings
John Greenleaf Whittier(1807 -1892) American poet and abolitionist who, in the latter part of his life, shared with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow the distinction of being a household name in both England and the United States.
Whittier had only a limited formal education. He became an avid reader of British poetry, however, and was especially influenced by the Scot Robert Burns, whose lyrical treatment of everyday rural life reinforced his own inclination to be a writer.
Whittier’s career naturally divides into four periods: poet and journalist (1826–32), abolitionist (1833–42), writer and humanitarian (1843–65), and Quaker poet (1866–92).
At age 19 he submitted his poem “The Exile’s Departure” to the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison for publication in the Newburyport Free Press, and it was accepted. Garrison encouraged other poetic contributions from Whittier, and the two men became friends and associates in the abolitionist cause.
Whittier turned to journalism. He edited newspapers in Boston and Haverhill and by 1830 had become editor of the New England Weekly Review in Hartford, Connecticut, the most important Whig journal in New England.
Whittier also continued writing verse, sketches, and tales, and he published his first volume of poems, Legends of New England, in 1831.
After 1831 Whittier rembraced Garrisonian abolitionism. His fiery antislavery pamphlet Justice and Expediency made him prominent in the abolition movement, and for a decade he was probably its most influential writer.
He served a term in the Massachusetts legislature, spoke at antislavery meetings, and edited the Pennsylvania Freeman (1838–40) in Philadelphia.
In 1840 he returned to live with his mother, aunt, and sister.
Whittier’s mother and his beloved younger sister died in the period from 1857 to 1864, but his personal grief, combined with the larger national grief of the Civil War, furthered his literary maturity.
The publication in 1866 of his best-known poem, the winter idyll Snow-Bound, was followed by other triumphs in the verse collections The Tent on the Beach (1867), Among the Hills (1868), and The Pennsylvania Pilgrim (1872).
Whittier’s 70th birthday was celebrated at a dinner attended by almost every prominent American writer, and his 80th birthday became an occasion for national celebration.
After outgrowing the Romantic verse he wrote in imitation of Robert Burns, Whittier became an eloquent advocate of justice, tolerance, and liberal humanitarianism.
The lofty spiritual and moral values he proclaimed earned him the title of “America’s finest religious poet,” and many of his poems are still sung as church hymns by various denominations.
After the Civil War he changed his focus, depicting nature and homely incidents in rural life. Whittier’s best poems are still read for their moral beauty and simple sentiments.
Springtime lambing wakes The passing of seasons spied Winter surrenders
Philip Larkin(Philip Arthur Larkin, 1922 -1985) an English poet, novelist, and librarian.
Larkin is most highly regarded as the poet who gave expression to a clipped, antiromantic sensibility prevalent in English verse in the 1950s.
Larkin’s first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945, followed by two novels, Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947), and he came to prominence in 1955 with the publication of his second collection of poems, The Less Deceived, followed by The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974).
He contributed to The Daily Telegraph as its jazz critic from 1961 to 1971, articles gathered in All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961–71 (1985), and he edited The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse (1973).
His many honours include the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He was offered, but declined, the position of Poet Laureate in 1984, following the death of Sir John Betjeman.
Lambs that learn to walk in snow When their bleating clouds the air Meet a vast unwelcome, know Nothing but a sunless glare. Newly stumbling to and fro All they find, outside the fold, Is a wretched width of cold.
As they wait beside the ewe, Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies Hidden round them, waiting too, Earth’s immeasureable surprise. They could not grasp it if they knew, What so soon will wake and grow Utterly unlike the snow.
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