— T.S. Eliot
to the ceiling in his big hands
and ask, How’s the weather up there?
And it was good, the weather
of being in his hands, his breath
of scotch and cigarettes, his face
smiling from the world below.
O daddy, was the lullaby I sang
back down to him as he stood on earth„,"
from “Weather” by George Bilgere
read the rest of the poem at http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org
George Bilgere has published six collections of poetry, most recently Imperial .
George’s poems are featured on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” and Ted Kooser’s newspaper project “American Life in Poetry.” He has also been a guest on Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” live radio variety show.
George hosts a weekly radio show, WORDPLAY, an offbeat mix of poetry, comedy, and an ongoing exploration of the possibilities of the spoken word.
His website is http://www.georgebilgere.com/
The golden apples of the sun."
— from The Song of Wandering Angus by William Butler Yeats
It’s the birthday of William Stafford, morning poet,
Writing the Australian Crawl and writing Stories
"Loving the world means giving it attention, which draws one to devotion, which means one is concerned with its condition, how it is being treated."
from an interview at http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/bookshelf/oliver.shtml
You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense
Today is the birthday of someone who never celebrated Thanksgiving. Poet and artist WILLIAM BLAKE was born in London in 1757).
He started seeing visions when he was a young boy — God in the window, angels in trees.
He apprenticed to an engraver, and spent his life as a little-known printmaker and poet.
Blake set up an exhibition of his art in his brother’s shop and called it “Poetical and Historical Inventions.” He left the show up for a year, but not many people attended, and not a single piece of art was sold.
Though famous today, he died in poverty in 1827, at the age of 69. In the 30 years after publishing his Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, fewer than 20 copies had sold.
An 1863 book, Life of William Blake was published quoted many of Blake’s poems, and included his illustrations and was hugely popular, and for the first time, Blake was considered a major English poet.
Sharon Olds clicked the clock over to 71 on November 19 and was awarded this year’s Pulitzer Prize for her poetry.
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar"
Sylvia Plath was born October 27, 1932 in Boston.
She studied with poet Robert Lowell in the late 1950’s. Her first collection of poems, Colossus, was published in 1960 in England, and two years later in the United States. She was married to poet Ted Huges and had two children, Frieda and Nicholas in 1960 and 1962, respectively.
When Ted Hughes left her in 1962 for another woman, she went into a deep depression and wrote most of the poems that would comprise her most famous book, Ariel.
In 1963, Plath published a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas.
On February 11, 1963, she wrote a note to her downstairs neighbor instructing him to call the doctor, then she committed suicide using her gas oven.
Although only Colossus was published while she was alive, Plath was a prolific poet, and in addition to Ariel, Hughes published three other volumes of her work posthumously, including The Collected Poems, which was the recipient of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize. She was the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize after death.
— Sylvia Plath
Old age should burn and rave at close of day,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
When Dylan Thomas went on his fourth reading tour of the United States in 1953, he was deep into his alcoholism. He was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning just as the tour began and told his doctor, “I’ve had 18 straight whiskeys. I think that’s the record.”
He died a few days later. One of his last poems is “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” - a poem in the villanelle form about the death of his father.
Dylan Marlais Thomas was born on October 27, 1914, in South Wales at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive in Swansea.
Words from W.S. Merwin on his birthday.
A former poet laureate of the United States, W. S. Merwin was born in New York City on 9/30/27 and he was raised in Union City, New Jersey.
He won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for his collection The Carrier of Ladders and the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for The Shadow of Sirius. He also won the 2005 National Book Award for Migration: New & Selected Poems.
He started writing poems when he was four or five years old, he said — at first, they were mostly hymns to give to his father, a Presbyterian minister. He studied literature and Romance languages at Princeton, gained the admiring attention of W.H. Auden, and published his first book of poems, A Mask for Janus, the year he turned 25.
It’s a strange courage
you give me ancient star:
Shine alone in the sunrise
toward which you lend no part!
September 17, 1883: the birthday of modernist poet William Carlos Williams who spent his life as a doctor as well as a poet. Williams was born in New Jersey, 130 years ago today.
excerpt, by Seamus Heaney
What happens next
Is undiminished for having happened once,
Twice, ten, a thousand times before.
Who cares if all the music that transpires
Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?
You are like a rich man entering heaven
Through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.