Oct. 2, 2001

Time Does Not Bring Relief

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Poem: "Time Does Not Bring Relief," by Edna St. Vincent Millay from Collected Poems (Harper Collins).

Time Does Not Bring Relief

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountainside,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go—so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

Today is Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles, when the Jewish people commemorate their 40 years in the desert and thank God for the fall harvest.

Today is also the date of the annual Harvest Moon, so called because the light of the full moon enables farmers to spend more time in the field getting in their crops.

It's the birthday of the American photographer Annie Leibovitz, born Anna-Lou Leibovitz, in Westbury, Connecticut (1949). From her hundreds of photographs for Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and countless advertising campaigns, Annie Leibovitz has become known as "the portraitist of the rock generation." In 1991, the National Portrait Gallery honored her with a 20-year retrospective of her work—only the second time this had been done for a living photographer.

It's the birthday of British novelist Graham (Henry) Greene, born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England (1902). He published over 60 books, including books of poetry, short stories, film criticism, plays, and novels. His novels include This Gun for Hire (1936), Brighton Rock (1938), The Third Man (1950), The End of the Affair (1951), The Quiet American (1955), and A Burnt-Out Case (1961).

It's the birthday of the South African poet Roy Campbell, born Ignatius Roy Dunnachie Campbell in Durban, Natal (1901). After he failed his exams at Oxford, he walked across France, lived with fishermen in Wales, taught Shakespeare to workers, won a steer-throwing championship, and fought with Franco's forces in the Spanish Civil War. He also published eighteen volumes of poetry. His masterpiece was his first book, The Flaming Terrapin, published in 1928.

It's the birthday of American poet Wallace Stevens, born in Reading, Pennsylvania (1879). As a young man, he studied law at New York University, was admitted to the bar in 1904, and went on to have a long career in the legal department of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Insurance Company in Hartford, Connecticut. Meanwhile, he was writing poetry. In 1914, when he was 35, his first poems appeared in the pages of Poetry magazine, under the pen name "Peter Parasol." Before his death in 1955, he published over 400 poems and 20 books of poetry, including Notes toward a Supreme Fiction (1942), The Auroras of Autumn (1950), and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1954). He was a large, quiet, intensely private man, for whom poetry was "a response to the daily necessity of getting the world right."

It's the birthday of Indian religious and political leader Mohandas Gandhi, born in Porbandar, north of Bombay, India (1869). He was born into the merchant caste, and as a young man went to England to study law. After being admitted to the bar, he accepted a position in South Africa, as the legal representative for a firm of Moslems. While traveling in the first-class compartment of the train, he was asked by a white man to leave. This experience of racial discrimination pointed him down the path of political activism, guided by the concept of satyagraha, or soul force. "Satyagraha," he said, "is not predominantly civil disobedience, but a quiet and irresistible pursuit of truth."

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