Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Poetry Wednesday

By Judith

We could ask, I suppose, why it seems that so many creative people have, shall we say, unconventional lifestyles. But perhaps it's just easier to look at their work and decide whether it stands on its own merit. I think we can say "yes" in the case of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892 - 1950).

A writer from an early age - she wrote and edited her school newspaper and her poem "Renascence" was published when she was twenty - Millay was acclaimed popularly and critically. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1923 for her book The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems. She also wrote a play, Aria di Capo and a libretto for The King's Henchman, music by Deems Taylor, which was produced by the Metropolitan Opera in 1927. She was also known as a great interpreter of poetry and her readings were eagerly anticipated. Interestingly, her greatest criticism came with her support of the war effort in World War II, perhaps because it wasn't chic for a modern to embrace the cause of democracy. In any event, she is remembered for the lyric nature of her verse.

Today's poem is, indeed, lyrical. Reading this poem is like taking a bite from a big, juicy apple, crunching its flesh in your teeth and letting the sweet juice run down your chin. Say this one out loud to yourself.

Winter Night

Pile high the hickory and the light
Log of chestnut struck by the blight.
Welcome-in the winter night.

The day has gone in hewing and felling,
Sawing and drawing wood to the dwelling
For the night of talk and story-telling.

These are the hours that give the edge
To the blunted axe and the bent wedge,
Straighten the saw and lighten the sledge.

Here are question and reply,
And the fire reflected in the thinking eye.
So peace, and let the bob-cat cry.

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