Aug. 14, 2009

After Fifty Years

by Gil Broxson

I walked among the Grave Markers,
Near my old home town,
And I saw a number of
Old friends.
John: Killed in world war two,
Buckey, Tooter,
And Teenie.
All were childhood pals.
There was Ann's mother, And
Verna Karhryn's Mother and
father. Uncle Levi, Aunt Sally,
And Mr.Smith. I saw Uncle
Charlie—And so many others
That brought fleeting Memories
of other days.
Then I came to the plot,
That Mama had bought for herself.
Suddenly the world was still,
Except for a bird
That was singing.
Once again I heard
Mama say to me,
"Son, when I die.
Take me home!"
I think that they were glad,
That I came and walked among
Their headstones,
And remembered
Each of them,
As they used to be.
I think that they were glad,
That I came all alone,
And did not disturb
The bird
That was singing.

"After Fifty Years" by Gil Broxson, from Just Gone...Fishing The Poetry of Texas. © iuniverse, Inc, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Nobel Laureate John Galsworthy, (books by this author) born in Surrey, England (1867). He's the author of the Forsyte Saga, a series of novels that satirically portray British upper middle class families.

He came from a wealthy Kingston Hill family and went to Oxford to study law, but spent most of his time playing cricket and soccer. He passed the bar exam about the same time the love affair in which he was entangled ended poorly, and rather than stay in England and practice law, he took off to travel the world. On a voyage in the South Sea in 1893, he met writer Joseph Conrad.

Galsworthy began to write books and publish them at his own expense under a pseudonym, John Sinjohn. His fifth book, The Island Pharisees (1904), was the first that he published under his own name.

He'd been living in secret with a woman for 10 years, the former wife of a cousin, because he knew his father would disapprove of their relationship. But after his father died, he and Ada Pearson Cooper got married — and he also secured a healthy inheritance and no longer had to worry about earning a living. He devoted himself to shooting, racing, and writing the Forsyte sagas. He based some of his characters upon his wife and her previous marriage to his cousin. Novels in the Forsyte Saga include In Chancery (1920), To Let (1921), The White Monkey (1924), The Silver Spoon (1926), and Swan Song (1928).

He won the Nobel literature prize in 1932, and he used the prize money to help establish an international organization for writers, PEN. It's an acronym they chose for the group after someone pointed out that the words for "Poet," for "Essayist," and for "Novelist" in most European languages have the same initial letter (P-E-N).

It's the birthday of journalist, essayist, and humorist Russell Baker, (books by this author) born in Morrisonville, Virginia (1925). He's a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner; the first he won in 1979 for distinguished commentary for his syndicated humor column, "The Observer," which ran from the early 1960s to the late 1990s. The second Pulitzer he received for his autobiography, Growing Up (1982). He's edited a number of anthologies, including The Norton Book of Light Verse (1986). He once said, "I gave up on new poetry myself thirty years ago, when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens in a hostile world."

Russell Baker said, "Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things."

It's the birthday of short-story writer Alice Adams, (books by this author) born in Fredericksburg, Virginia (1926). She had a difficult relationship with her mother, who was a failed writer. Adams grew up thinking that if she became a writer then maybe her mother would like her. She took a creative writing class in college. Her teacher said she was a very nice girl and she should get married and forget about all this writing. She did get married, and had a child, but the marriage broke up, and she spent several years as a single mother, working as a secretary. Her psychiatrist told her to give up writing and get remarried, but instead she published her first novel, Careless Love (1966), and a few years later she published her first short story in The New Yorker. She wrote many novels, but she's best known for her short stories, in collections like After You've Gone (1989) and The Last Lovely City (1999).

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