Sunday

Jan. 20, 2002

Solstice

by Edward Hirsch

SUNDAY, 20 JANUARY 2002
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Solstice," by Edward Hirsch from Earthly Measure (Alfred A. Knopf).

Solstice

Remember how the city looked from the harbor
in early evening: its brutal gaze
averted, its poised and certain countenance
wavering with lights?
Remember how we sat in swaybacked chairs
and marvelled at the brush fires
of dusk clear in the distance, the flames
scrawled across the skyline
like a signature while currents shifted
inside us? Ecstasy of fire-
works rising in midsummer, of fulvous sails
flashing in the heat
And orange life buoys bobbing on the water;
ecstasy of flares and secrets
and two bodies held aloft by desire...
judge us as you will,
but remember that we, too, lived once
in the fullness of a moment
before the darkness took its turn with us
and the night clamped shut.

It was on this day in 1961, Inauguration Day in Washington, poet Robert Frost was invited, at the age of 86, to recite a poem for the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. He was going to recite a poem he had written for the occasion, but his eyes were weak and he had typed the poem on a typewriter with a faint ribbon and the day was bright with a lot of glare from snow which had fallen the previous day. He was unable to read the poem he had written, so he recited his poem "The Gift Outright" by heart.

It's the birthday of poet Edward Hirsch, born in Chicago (1950). He's the author of many collections of poetry, including For the Sleepwalkers (1981, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award), Wild Gratitude (1986, winner of the 1987 National Book Critics Circle Award), The Night Parade (1989), Earthly Measures (1994) and On Love (1999). He values traditional forms in poetry, saying that "the dichotomy between so-called formal poetry and free verse is a large mistake in American poetry." He teaches at the University of Houston, where he's a member of the creative writing program.

It's the birthday of filmmaker Federico Fellini, born in Rimini, Italy, on the Adriatic coast (1920), the son of a prosperous grocer. He developed a love for movies in his town's two hundred-seat theater where, he said, "I discovered there existed another way of life, a country of wide-open spaces, of fantastic cities that were a cross between Babylon and Mars." He was talking about the America he saw on film. He married the actress Giulietta Masina, who later starred in many Fellini films, including "La Strada," "The Nights of Cabiria," and "Juliet of the Spirits." He said that "All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster's autobiography."

It's the birthday of American composer Walter Piston, born Rockland, Maine (1894), the grandson of an Italian sailor who changed his name from Pistone when he married an American girl.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









«

»

  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Sharon Olds at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »