Nov. 15, 2001

Friendship After Love

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Poem: "Friendship After Love," by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Friendship After Love

After the fierce midsummer all ablaze
    Has burned itself to ashes, and expires
    In the intensity of its own fires,
There come the mellow, mild, St. Martin days
Crowned with the calm of peace, but sad with haze.
    So after love has led us, till he tires
    Of his own throes, and torments, and desires,
Comes large-eyed friendship: with a restful gaze,
He beckons us to follow, and across
    Cool verdant vales we wander free from care.
    Is it a touch of frost lies in the air?
Why are we haunted with a sense of loss?
We do not wish the pain back, or the heat;
And yet, and yet, these days are incomplete.

It was on this day in 1805 Meriweather Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, managed to canoe around Point Ellis at the mouth of the Columbia River and come into full view of the Pacific Ocean. The expedition had been pinned to the eastern slopes of Point Ellis for a week during which wind, waves, and rain made the Columbia too dangerous for any craft other than the lightest and most skillfully paddled Indian canoes. Lewis did not keep a journal on this day, but he did carve his name on a tree at the tip of Cape Disappointment.

It was on this day in 1777 that the Articles of Confederation, the first written constitution of the United States, were adopted by Congress and sent to the 13 states for ratification. The articles called for "a firm league of friendship" of states, "for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare." The articles were ratified in 1781, but were superseded by the current Constitution in 1788.

It's the birthday of the American poet Marianne Moore in St. Louis, Missouri (1887). She taught stenography in an Indian school in Pennsylvania after college, but was writing constantly. She was modest about her work, and her first volume of poetry was published by her friends without her knowledge. She said, "Anyone could do what I do, and I am, therefore, the more grateful that those whose judgment I trust should regard it as poetry." Her Collected Poems (1951) won the National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize.

It's the birthday of the American painter Georgia O'Keeffe, born on a farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin (1887). As a child, she was kept strictly indoors during the winter months, and lived for the day each spring when the door was opened and the light and air of the outdoors flooded in. Between periods of study in New York or Chicago, she worked as a commercial artist (her image of the Dutch Girl still appears on Dutch Cleanser) and she taught in Virginia, Texas, and South Carolina. She became established as an artist in her own right when her friend, Ann Pollitzer, though expressly forbidden by the artist to do so, showed some of her work to Alfred Stieglitz, who ran the influential 291 Gallery in New York. She is known for her lush magnified paintings of flowers and for her stark depictions of bleached bones in the deserts of New Mexico, where she spent the last 40 years of her life.

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