Apr. 30, 2009


by William Henry Davies

despite it all

by Denver Butson


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

despite it all

there were twelve birds
on the television antenna
on the roof below my window

I counted them

and then one lifted up
and then two
and then three flew away

there are nine birds

and then they too lift up
and fly away

and then one comes back
and then two

there are twelve
no thirteen birds
on the television antenna
on the roof below my window

I count them
and then one lifts up

"Leisure" by William Henry Davies. Public domain. (buy now) And "despite it all" by Denver Butson, from Illegible Address. © Luquer Street Press, 2003. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Annie Dillard, (books by this author) born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1945). She wrote Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), and it won a Pulitzer Prize. She was 29 years old.

It's the birthday of short-story writer Josip Novakovich, (books by this author) born in Daruvar, Croatia (1956). He moved to the United States as a young man and has written several books in English, including the memoir Apricots from Chernobyl (1995).

It's the birthday of poet and critic John Crowe Ransom, (books by this author) born in Pulaski, Tennessee (1888). He founded The Kenyon Review, and he was one of the most important literary critics of his time.

It's the birthday of American poet and diarist Winfield Townley Scott, (books by this author) born in Haverhill, Massachusetts (1910). In 1958, he published The Dark Sister, a long poetic narrative about Leif Ericson's ambitious, crazy half-sister. It was critically well-received, but interest soon waned. He wrote a number of poems that were considered masterpieces at the time, including "Mr. Whittier." William Carlos Williams was a great admirer of Winfield Townley Scott.

But Scott faded into obscurity, partly because he wrote long heroic narratives, sonnets, and other traditional forms at a time when they were no longer fashionable, and partly because he spent the last part of his life addicted to sedatives and bourbon. He died two days before his 58th birthday from an overdose of sleeping pills.

It's the birthday of writer Alice B. Toklas, (books by this author) born in San Francisco (1877). In 1907, she went to Paris where she met Gertrude Stein, and the two women became lovers. They moved into 27 rue de Fleurus, where they began a salon that became a social hub for artists and writers, including Picasso, Hemingway, Matisse, and Fitzgerald. In 1933, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas was published, which was actually written by Gertrude Stein and not Toklas. But after Stein died, Toklas wrote her own memoir, called What Is Remembered (1963). She said, "Gertrude Stein … held my complete attention, as she did for all the many years I knew her until her death, and all these empty ones since then."

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