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A Poem for a Thursday #20



James Wright was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio in 1927. He fought in WWII. He returned home, attended college, and then went to Austria on a Fulbright Fellowship. His early poems were conventional but his work became looser in style as time went on. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1972. An article in The New York Times says that while "the mood of the poet was sometimes very dark,...one of his great strengths...was the life-affirming quality of his work." Interestingly, James Wright's son was also a poet and he also won the Pulitzer Prize. They are the only father/son duo to do so.

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love one another.
There is no loneliness like theirs. 
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom. 

A Blessing
James Wright


Visit Brona's Books for another poem. Reese at Typings has joined in for the first time this week.

Book Stacks



At any given moment, I have a stack of books piled on and next to the couch, my bed, or any available flat surface. They are books I am currently reading, books I have finished, books I want to read. Basically, my house is just covered in books. So, what books are near me right now?

I recently finished Circus Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and it made me very happy. I read several of Streatfeild's books when I was a child but there were many I never came across and I feel like I missed out. I found this one for free on a donation shelf at the library and spent one glorious evening racing through it. I knew it was going to be good when Streatfeild eliminated the parents in the first paragraph. All adventurous books have to get rid of the parents.

Peter and Santa were orphans. Their father and mother were killed in a railway accidnt when they were babies, so they came and lived with their aunt. The aunt's name was Rebecca Possit, but of course they called her Aunt Rebecca. Before the children were born Aunt Rebecca had been lady's maid to a duchess. This was a good thing, because when the duchess died she left her an annuity, and, as Aunt Rebecca had no other money and neither had the children, it was important. 

You can probably see where this is going. Aunt Rebecca dies, the annuity dies with her, and the children are going to be sent to separate orphanages. They run away (of course) to join an unknown uncle who works with a circus (of course) and adventures commence. Did I mention they live in a caravan? Obviously, you need to read this right away.

I am almost done reading Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. This is also thoroughly enjoyable though in a completely different way. There are no circuses or caravans but there is a lot of food. Julia Child was quite the woman and very, very determined. I have one of her cookbooks and I need to pull it off the shelf and work my way through some of the recipes. I would definitely recommend this book but have lots of snacks on hand while you read it.

I am also reading The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism by Stanley Cloud and Lynne Olson. I read Citizens of London by Lynne Olson a while ago and wanted to read more about Edward R. Murrow. So far, I am enjoying this. Lynne Olson makes history very accessible.

Booknotes: America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas by Brian Lamb is something I just picked up this morning. I read the first essay by David McCullough. I have read a couple of his history books. He said that he had always wanted to be a writer.

When I went to college, everybody was going to be a writer and I never dared talk about that. I never dared mention that. It seemed very presumptuous. But I secretly wanted to do that--to be that. When I saw the Catton book, I realized that history could be written about life. It could be written about human beings. It could be written about the feeling of places. It had all the narrative quality and the art of the written word about something that really happened. That was a revelation to me.   

I also have a couple of books of poetry that I have been flipping through looking for Thursday poems. My library has a pitifully poor selection of poetry so I need to find some books somewhere else. However, for now, I have enough poems for a couple of months picked out.

What have you been reading lately?

A Poem for a Thursday #19

Photo by David Klein on Unsplash
Richard Wilbur served in WWII, attended Harvard University, and then taught at Harvard, Wellesley Wesleyan University, and Smith College. He was the U.S. poet laureate in 1987 and 1988. I like anything about words and writing and I think this poem about his daughter writing a story is beautiful.

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor or the desk-top.

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure, 

It lifted off from a chair-back
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder. 

The Writer
Richard Wilbur


Visit Brona's Books and Pastry & Purls for more poems.