Saturday, September 28, 2013

More from Lizette Woodworth Reese

I finally got my copy of Lizette Woodworth Reese's Selected Poems through interlibrary loan. [Digression concerning silly bureaucracy: I got no notification that my ILL book was in at the branch where I'd chosen to pick it up. Eventually I called the main library and asked. The extremely nice and helpful reference librarian informed me apologetically that it had been sitting and waiting for me at the branch for so long that it might have already been sent back to its home library. The reason that I had not been notified? I had set up notifications by telephone rather than e-mail. As it turns out, ILL notifications go out only by e-mail. So if you don't have e-mail notifications enabled, in effect you can't really use the interlibrary loan service, because your requested books will just be sent back without your knowing they ever arrived. The reference librarian quite agreed that this is a senseless procedure. When I went to pick up the book and was musing with the librarian at the branch, however, she cheerfully advanced the hypothesis that perhaps telephone notifications aren't sent on ILL books because they are sometimes unreliable. You know, sometimes people's numbers have been disconnected. Um, I see, so sending no notification at all is preferable to the unreliability of telephone? Makes sense to me. Anyway, I rescued it before it was sent back to its home library. End of digression.]

The book has many real gems, and I ought to write up a longer appreciation some time. Here is one:


BATTLES nor songs can from oblivion save,
  But Fame upon a white deed loves to build:
From out that cup of water Sidney gave,
  Not one drop has been spilled.

Here is another:

                                     Wild Geese
The sun blown out;
The dusk about:
Fence, roof, tree--here or there,
Wedged fast in the drab air;
A pool vacant with sky,
That stares up like an eye.
Nothing can happen. All is done--
The quest to fare,
The race to run--
The house sodden with years,
And bare
Even of tears.
A cry!
From out the hostelries of sky,
And down the gray wind blown;
Rude, innocent, alone.
Now, in the west, long sere,
An orange thread, the length of spear;
It glows;
It grows;
The flagons of the air
Drip color everywhere:
The village--fence, roof, tree--
From the lapsed dusk pulls free,
And shows
A rich, still, unforgotten place;
Each window square,
Yellow for yellow renders back;
The pool puts off its foolish face;
The wagon track
Crooks past lank garden-plot,
To Rome, to Camelot.
A cry!
One of the best things in the book is a single stanza of a poem that is otherwise not as strong, the poem "Growth." Here is the stanza, which deserves to stand by itself:

Nor is the last word said;
Nor is the battle done;
Somewhat of glory and of dread
Remains for set of sun.
That one has appeared in my latest post at What's Wrong With the World. The post is on the subject of the glory of lost causes.

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