Dec. 9, 2008
Something About the Wind
Here at the end of the world,
or so it seems to a traveller
in this country,
where the sun buffs the sea silver
in the late afternoon,
and water drips from the high clay banks,
having come as far as it can
from the upland meadows
where tule elk graze,
even here at this end of the world
where two turkey vultures in the sand
empty the white rib cage of a dead seal,
even here where the water is dripping
into the sand, poppies blossom,
yellow and orange,
and the land is bright with wildflowers,
as if to surprise each new visitor
who comes to the end of the world.
Something about the Wind
There's something about the wind coming off
the ocean, the waves washing the rocks
that makes a person who is quickly annoyed
by cigarette smoke and men
putting nails into roofs
forgetful and unconcerned.
If you are easily disturbed
you need to get an ocean.
It's the birthday of cartoonist, humorist, and poet Ashleigh Brilliant, (books by this author) born in London (1933). He's best known for his "Pot-Shots," sayings and one-liners that are never more than 17 words. He illustrates them with pen-and-ink drawings. Some of his Pot-Shots are: "To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, and, whatever you hit, call it the target," and "I'm not getting paid much for staying alive but it's good experience," and "All I want is a warm bed and a kind word and unlimited power." Pot-Shots have appeared on mugs, tote bags, and T-shirts, and in several book collections. Brilliant's most recent book is I'm Just Moving Clouds Today, Tomorrow I'll Try Mountains (1998). Ashleigh Brilliant is his real name.
It's the birthday of poet Léonie Adams, (books by this author) born in Brooklyn, New York (1899). When she was 11 years old, she decided she wanted to be a writer. She was an only child, and her parents kept her carefully secluded. She was rarely let out of the house except to go to school, and she was never allowed to ride the subway. When she started attending Barnard College, her dad accompanied her on the subway to her classes.
In 1925, she published her first collection, Those Not Elect. Edmund Wilson praised it in the New Republic. She met Wilson that year at a party, and a few years later, they became lovers. Wilson was drunk at the time, and when he found out later that Adams had been a virgin, he felt extremely guilty. She left for Europe, and a few months later, she realized that she had been pregnant and miscarried. She wrote a letter to Wilson and told him about it, and he felt so guilty and was drinking so heavily that he had a nervous breakdown.
Wilson had written some letters of introduction for Adams before she went to Europe, and she met many writers there, including Gertrude Stein. In February of 1929, Adams wrote to Wilson from a Paris café. She said, "Good-bye, Edmund dearest. I love you very much and am not sorry about it. I wish I could have talked to you more and been happier with you when we were together. But that was as much my fault as yours." She forgave him for everything, and called him "on the whole the best person I have known." And she went on to have a distinguished career as a poet.
It's the birthday of the poet John Milton, (books by this author) born in London (1608). He was well-known in his own time for his political essays. He wrote a pamphlet arguing for the right to get a divorce on the grounds of incompatibility. He had married a woman named Mary Powell, and she left him almost immediately after their honeymoon. And he wrote the tract Areopagitica (1644), an argument in favor of freedom of the press. But he's most famous for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667). Many readers come away from it feeling that Satan is the most interesting and sympathetic character.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®