“Once upon a time there was a boy
who loved a girl, and her laughter
was a question he wanted to spend
his whole life answering.”
― Nicole Krauss,The History of Love
Welcome to Morning Open Thread, a daily post
with a MOTley crew of hosts who choose the topic
for the day's posting. We support our community,
invite and share ideas, and encourage thoughtful,
respectful dialogue in an open forum. That’s a
feature, not a bug. Other than that, site rulz rule.
So grab your cuppa, and join in.
13 poets born this
love, and loss
1802 – Lydia Maria Child born as Lydia Maria Francis in Medford, Massachusetts; American author, poet, novelist, school teacher, abolitionist, and advocate for women’s rights and Native American rights. She also opposed American expansionism. After attending a local dame school, she then went to a seminary for women. But she was also tutored by her brother in classical literature, and trained to be a teacher. She wrote her first novel, Hobomok, A Tale of Early Times, about a white immigrant woman who married a Native American, then struggled after his death to bring up their son in white society, in just six weeks, and it was published under the pseudonym “An American” in 1824. After a year of teaching, she set up her own school in Watertown, Massachusetts. In 1826, she started Juvenile Miscellany, a magazine for children, which she kept running until 1836. In 1928, she married journalist and social justice campaigner David Lee Child in 1828. They lived in Boston until 1841, when she and her husband became co-editors of the National Anti-Slavery Standard, published in New York. She wrote many poems for children, and several novels, as well as a best-selling manual, The Frugal Housewife, Dedicated to those who are not ashamed of Economy. Today, she is only known to most Americans for her 1844 poem Thanksgiving Day, which became the lyrics for Over the River and Through the Woods. Lydia Maria Child died at age 78 in October 1880.
If Ever I See
by Lydia Maria Child
If ever I see,
On bush or tree,
Young birds in their pretty nest;
I must not, in play,
Steal the birds away,
To grieve their mother's breast.
My mother, I know,
Would sorrow so,
Should I be stolen away;
So I'll speak to the birds
In my softest words,
Nor hurt them in my play.
And when they can fly
In the bright blue sky,
They'll warble a song to me;
And then if I'm sad
It will make me glad
To think they are happy and free.
“If Ever I See” from A New Flower for Children, by Lydia Maria Child, originally published in 1856
1939 – Janet Yolen born in New York City; prolific American writer of fantasy, science fiction, and children’s books, poetry, non-fiction, and literary cookbooks. She the author, co-author, or editor of over 350 books, including The Devil’s Arithmetic; the Commander Toad series; and the How Do Dinosaurs … series. Among her many awards and honors, Yolen is a three-time winner of the Golden Kite Award for Fiction; a Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Grand Master; and winner of the 2017 Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award. She has published over 35 poetry collections, the majority of them for children. Among her poetry collections for adults are Before THE VOTE After a collection of daily poems from her blog during the 2016 election campaign; and The Radiation Sonnets: For My Love, in Sickness and in Health were written while her husband was undergoing radiation treatment for inoperable cancer.
— for Herr Beethoven
by Janet Yolen
Sometimes a boy, a girl,
with too much imagination
or too much despair,
looks for an escape,
a bolt hole, digs a tunnel,
finds a dot, an opening,
a moment in time.
Takes it, shapes it,
big enough for one,
too small for another.
There is an odd safety in retreat.
A miracle to manage.
It is not how you get out that matters.
It is what you do next.
“Escaping Bonn,” © 2022 by Janet Yolen, appeared in multiplicity magazine’s Spring/Summer 2022 issue
2006 – Patricia Spears Jones born and raised in Arkansas, but has lived in New York City for over four decades. American poet, winner of the 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize sponsored by Poets & Writers and given annually to “poets of exceptional talent.” She has also been an editor and/or contributor to About Place Journal; and the blog project Thirty Days Hath September. Jones was a co-editor of Ordinary Women: An Anthology of Poetry by New York City Women, and the first African American program coordinator of The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York. Her poetry collections include: Painkiller; Femme du Monde; The Weather That Kills; and A Lucent Fire.
by Patricia Spears Jones
The man with the black feather tattoo pares this space
Between fantasy and the memory of a man’s carved
Torso, designed for stroking and celebration.
Today the sun’s brightness is like that lover’s kiss,
Wonderful in the present and greater in memory.
A memory that brings me back to that black feather’s
Flutter. Stars dazzle in some other part of this world
Where the sun has set and the moon illuminates
Swans diving into voluminous waters.
“Dancer” © 2015 by Patricia Spears Jones – originally appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 27, 2015
1937 – Dede Wilson born as Marilyn Marie Coco in Alexandria, Louisiana; journalist, poet, short story writer, and essayist; after graduating from Louisiana State University with a B.S. in journalism in 1959, she went to work for Dallas Times Herald and became the Herald’s Travel Editor. Her poetry collections include: Glass; Sea of Small Fears; One Nightstand; and Under the Music of the Blue. Her remarkable book, Eliza: The New Orleans Years is mix of history, fiction, and poetry, which tells the story of Wilson’s great-great grandmother Eliza Moore Parker, who sailed from England to New Orleans, married the ship's captain during the voyage, saw her husband killed in a duel, then later married the man who shot him.
Morning Of the Duel
by Dede Wilson
Eliza Park, New Orleans, 1838
I unlace my shift, stand at the basin, breasts
cold against the porcelain bowl. My hands
are numb, my breath makes ghosts in the room.
I loosen my braids, lift a brush to my crown,
release the musk of my hair, its flame
and its weight warming my shoulders.
Dawn is slick with horses, acrid smoke,
the smelly canals. Even tall closed windows
cannot shut the proud world out. Now they are
counting, stepping away before they turn.
“Morning of the Duel” from Eliza: The New Orleans Years © 2010 by Dede Wilson – Main Street Rag
1965 – Deborah Garrison born in Ann Arbor, Michigan; American poet and editor. Her father died when she was 15. She earned a B.A. in creative writing from Brown University, and a master’s in Literature from New York University. In 1986, she married Matthew Garrison, and joined the editorial staff of The New Yorker, where she worked for 15 years, ultimately becoming the senior non-fiction editor. She is now the poetry editor at Alfred A. Knopf and a senior editor at Knopf’s imprint Pantheon Books, which publishes fiction, non-fiction, and beginning with Maus in 1986, graphic novels. Her poetry collections are A Working Girl Can’t Win and The Second Child.
On New Terms
by Deborah Garrison
I’d like to begin again. Not touch my
own face, not tremble in the dark before
an intruder who never arrives. Not
apologize. Not scurry, not pace. Not
refuse to keep notes of what meant the most.
Not skirt my father’s ghost. Not abandon
piano, or a book before the end.
Not count, count, count and wait, poised—the control,
the agony controlled—for the loss of
the one, having borne, I can’t be, won’t breathe
without: the foregone conclusion, the pain
not yet met, the preëmptive mourning
nothing left of me but smoke.
“On New Terms” from The Second Child: Poems © 2007 by Deborah Garrison – Random House
1879 – Sarojini Naidu born as Sarojini Chattopadhyay in Hyderabad, under the British Raj (now in the state of Telangana); Indian author, poet, playwright, activist, feminist, and politician. Sarojini’s father was a Bengali Brahmin and the principal of Nizam College. Her mother was a poet. Sarojini passed the exam to qualify for university study, earning the highest rank in 1891, when she was twelve. From 1895 to 1898, she studied at King’s College, London, and at Girton College, Cambridge, on a scholarship from the Nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad. Upon her return home, she married Govindaraju Naidu, a physician she met in England. It was an inter-caste marriage which caused some scandal, but both of their families supported the marriage, which was a long and harmonious one. By 1904, Naidu was a popular orator, promoting Indian independence and women’s rights, especially women’s education. She spoke before the Indian National Congress. She was honored for her work helping flood victims in 1911, and meeting Mahatma Gandhi in 1914 inspired her to be involved in even more political action. In 1917, she was a founding member of the Women’s Indian Association, and protested the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. She was the second woman President of the Indian National Congress (1925-1926). Naidu joined Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance, and took part in the 1930 Salt March. She was the first woman to be Governor of Uttar Pradesh (1947-1949), Her daughter Padmaja followed in her mother’s footsteps, joining the Quit India movement, and after independence, held several governmental positions. Her poetry collections include The Golden Threshold; The Bird of Time; and The Broken Wing. After her death at age 70 in March 1949, her daughter Padma edited The Feather of the Dawn, a posthumous collection of Naidu’s unpublished poems.
Indian Love Song
by Sarojini Naidu
Like a serpent to the calling voice of flutes,
Glides my heart into thy fingers, O my Love!
Where the night-wind, like a lover, leans above
His jasmine-gardens and sirisha-bowers;
And on ripe boughs of many-coloured fruits
Bright parrots cluster like vermilion flowers.
Like the perfume in the petals of a rose,
Hides thy heart within my bosom, O my love!
Like a garland, like a jewel, like a dove
That hangs its nest in the asoka-tree.
Lie still, O love, until the morning sows
Her tents of gold on fields of ivory.
― translator not credited
“Indian Love Song” from The Golden Threshold, by Sarojini Naidu – 1916 English language edition published by the University of California Libraries
1881 – Eleanor Farjeon born, English author, poet, and biographer; noted for lyrics to the hymn “Morning Has Broken” and the Martin Pippin series for children. Her father was a novelist and her mother was the daughter of an actor. Though she never had a formal education, her family home was a place where artistic and literary figures met frequently, and she recounts the impact that had on her development in her best-selling memoir, A Nursery in the Nineties. When her father died when she was 22, Farjeon had to earn her living, and began publishing works for adults, but found greater success in writing for children, beginning with Martin Pippin in the Apple-Orchard, originally written in installments in letters she sent to Victor Haslam, a friend who was an officer serving in France during WWI. Her book The Little Bookroom won the Carnegie Medal and the Hans Christian Andersen medal.
Now That You Too
by Eleanor Farjeon
Now that you too must shortly go the way
Which in these bloodshot years uncounted men
Have gone in vanishing armies day by day,
And in their numbers will not come again:
I must not strain the moments of our meeting
Striving for each look, each accent, not to miss,
Or question of our parting and our greeting,
Is this the last of all? is this—or this?
Last sight of all it may be with these eyes,
Last touch, last hearing, since eyes, hands, and ears,
Even serving love, are our mortalities,
And cling to what they own in mortal fears:—
But oh, let end what will, I hold you fast
By immortal love, which has no first or last.
“Now That You Too” from A Collection of Poems, © 1929 by Eleanor Farjeon – W. Collins and Sons Company, Ltd.
1911 – Faiz Ahmad Faiz born in Narowai District, Punjab, British India (now in Pakistan); Pakistani poet, author, academic, and newspaper editor; one of the most celebrated writers of the Urdu language. He studied at Government College and Oriental College. He served in the British Indian Army during WWII. After the partition of India, he was editor-in-chief of two major Pakistani newspapers – the English-language daily Pakistan Times, and the Urdu daily Imrose (Today). A leading member of the Communist Party, in 1951 he was arrested and imprisoned for his alleged part in a conspiracy to overthrow Liaquat Ali Khan’s administration and replace it with a left-wing, pro-Soviet government. After four years in prison, he left Pakistan, spent time in Moscow and London, and joined the Progressive Writers’ Movement. In 1962, he was the first Asian to be honored with the Lenin Peace Prize, in 1962. The next several years were a period of change, often violent, and he went into exile again, this time in Beirut. Faiz died at age 73 in Lahore, Punjab in November 1984 from lung and heart disease. Some of his poetry has been translated into English and published posthumously in The Rebel’s Silhouette: Selected Poems and Best of Faiz.
Before You Came
by Faiz Ahmad Faiz
Before you came things were just what they were:
the road precisely a road, the horizon fixed,
the limit of what could be seen,
a glass of wine was no more than a glass of wine.
With you the world took on the spectrum
radiating from my heart: your eyes gold
as they open to me, slate the color
that falls each time I lose all hope.
With your advent roses burst into flame:
you were the artist of dried-up leaves, sorceress
who flicked her wrist to change dust into soot.
You lacquered the night black.
As for the sky, the road, the cup of wine:
one was my tear-drenched shirt,
the other an aching nerve,
the third a mirror that never reflected the same thing.
Now you are here again—stay with me.
This time things will fall into place;
the road can be the road,
the sky is nothing but the sky;
the glass of wine, as it should be, the glass of wine.
“Before You Came” from The True Subject: Selected Poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, translations © 1987 by Naomi Lazard – Princeton University Press, bilingual edition
1911 – Chika Sagawa, the pen name of Aiko Kawasaki, born in the coastal town of Yoichi, Hokkaido, Japan; modernist Japanese poet and translator. She began to study to be an English teacher, but at age 17 went to live with her brother Katué Kitasono, already noted for his poetry among the Tokyo literati, and as a photographer. He championed his sister’s work. Her first publication was a translation of the Hungarian writer Ferenc Molnár. Her own poems appeared in the Arcueil Club’s magazine Madame Blanche, and in the journal Shi to Shiron (Poetry and Poetics). Her translations of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and other contemporary European writers appeared in these magazines, and in Bungei Rebyû (The Literary Review). Chika Sagawa died of stomach cancer at age 24 in January 1936. Her work has been published in English translation in To The Vast Blooming Sky; Mouth: Eats Color; and The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa.
by Chika Sagawa
On the street corner, the sun destroys the love, held between glass wings, that people had carefully passed along.
The sky stands facing the window, darkening with every turn of the ventilator.
The leaves are in the sky, drawing a single line, as the rooftops lean in.
Trains crawl along the bulging street, the sailor’s collar rotating between blue creases in the sky.
This finely dressed summer procession passes by and crumbles into the flask.
The fruits of our hearts rain happy shadows.
“Glass Wings” – translation © 2015 by Sawako Nakayasu
1638 – Zeb-un-Nissa born, Mughal princess and poet who wrote under the pseudonym Makhfi (Hidden One). She was carefully educated by Hafiza Mariam, and by age seven, she had become a Hafiza (female title for one who has memorized the Quaran). She also studied the sciences of the day with Mohammad Saeed Ashraf Mazandarani, and learned mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, literature, the Persian, Arabic and Urdu languages, calligraphy, and music. Zeb-un-Nissa had a large library of her own, and was a patron of several scholars. She was noted for both her poetry and her song lyrics. When her father became emperor after Shah Jahan, he sometimes discussed political affairs with her, but in 1681 or 1682, her father had her imprisoned at Salimgarh Fort, Delhi, but there are conflicting accounts of why. Sources variously claim she had an affair (a rumour which may have started because she rejected all her suitors and never married), became too public with her poetry and music, or supported her younger brother during a conflict over the succession. She died after about 20 years in prison, either in 1701 or 1702. In 1724, her surviving writings were collected in the Diwan-i-Makhfi, (Book of the Hidden One). There are four hundred and twenty-one ghazals (an Abrabic form of ode, using couplets) and several ruba’is (a four-line poem form in Persian poetry).
You with the dark curly hair and the breathtaking eyes,
your inquiring glance that leaves me undone.
Eyes that pierce and then withdraw like a blood-stained sword,
eyes with dagger lashes!
Zealots, you are mistaken – this is heaven.
Never mind those making promises of the afterlife:
join us now, righteous friends, in this intoxication.
Never mind the path to the Kaabah: sanctity resides in the heart.
Squander your life, suffer! God is right here.
Oh excruciating face! Continual light!
This is where I am thrilled, here, right here.
There is no book anywhere on the matter.
Only as soon as I see you do I understand.
If you wish to offer your beauty to God, give Zebunnisa
a taste. Awaiting the tiniest morsel, she is right here.
―translated by Sally Lee Stewart, Elena Bell and Maksuda Joraeva
1975 – Stacie Cassarino born in Hartford, Connecticut of Italian heritage, she is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Italy. American poet, editor, and academic. She is currently on the department of English & Language Literature faculty at Smith College, but has previously worked as a copy editor at Elle magazine, and as a chef in New York City and Seattle. Her poetry collections include Zero at the Bone, which won the 2010 Lamda Literary Award and the Audre Lorde Award; and Each Luminous Thing. She has also published Culinary Poetics and Edible Images in Twentieth-Century American Literature, a study of the impact of the modern cookbook and changes in what we eat on contemporary literature.
Snowshoe to Otter Creek
by Stacie Cassarino
love lasts by not lasting
— Jack Gilbert
I’m mapping this new year’s vanishings:
lover, yellow house, the knowledge of surfaces.
This is not a story of return.
There are times I wish I could erase
the mind’s lucidity, the difficulty of Sundays,
my fervor to be touched
by a woman two Februarys gone. What brings the body
back, grieved and cloven, tromping these woods
with nothing to confide in? New snow reassumes
the circleting trees, the bridge above the creek
where I stand like a stranger to my life.
There is no single moment of loss, there is
an amassing. The disbeliever sleeps at an angle
in the bed. The orchard is a graveyard.
Is this the real end? Someone shoveling her way out
with cold intention? Someone naming her missing?
“Snowshoe to Otter Creek” from Zero at the Bone, © 2009 by Stacie Cassarino – New Issues Press
1887 – José Moreno Villa born in Malaga, Spain; Spanish poet, narrator, essayist, literary critic, artist, painter, columnist, researcher, archivist, librarian, archaeologist, and academic who taught at universities in the United States and México. He went to Germany to study chemistry, but left to return to Spain, and settled in Madrid, where he worked for the Calleja Editorial bookshop/publisher (1916-1921) and wrote for magazines and newspapers and mingled with the poets and philosophers of the day. In the 1930s, during the brief period of the Segunda República Española, he was the director of the Archives of the National Palace (aka the Royal Palace of Madrid). With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he moved to Valencia for a short time, then went into exile in the U.S., where he was employed in various posts at Princeton University. He next moved to Mexico, where he married, had a son, and developed much of his work. He published 11 collections of poetry, from Garba in 1913 to La noche del Verbo (The Night of the Word) in 1942. He died at age 68 in Mexico in April 1955.
by José Moreno Villa
This is the front. Here
No sign of play.
Books have no meaning.
This is the front, hard and dry,
The bullet and the human body,
The earth and the scavenger birds,
The head and the hand
And the heart and steel.
The mounting and lowering of cannons
On hills stunned with fear.
To face bayonets and helmets without flinching
And never leave one’s post.
To follow the tanks
That are monsters of sound
To neither eat nor drink
Nor sleep all day.
To come out with one’s head still high
Or quiet on the stretcher-bearer’s canvas.
– translated by Langston Hughes (type-written page in the collection of his papers)
“El frente” by José Moreno Villa, from Poetas en la España leal (“Poets in Loyal Spain” – originally published in 1937)
1836 – Gustavo Adolfo Becquer born in Seville as Gustavo Adolfo Domínguez Bastida; major Spanish Romantic poet, short story writer, and playwright. He adopted the alias of Bécquer as his brother Valeriano Bécquer, a painter, had done earlier. Bécquer is considered the founder of modern Spanish lyricism. He lost his father at age 5, and his mother only 6 years later. After briefly attending San Antonio Abad school, he and his siblings were taken in by their uncle Don Juan de Vargas, but Gustavo later went to live with his godmother, Doña Manuela Monahay, where he made good use of her extensive library. Doña Manuela supported his passion for study of the arts and history, but sent him to be trained by the painter Don Antonio Cabral Bejarano. He left in 1853, at age seventeen, and moved to Madrid to follow his dream of making a name for himself as a poet, but was unable to earn enough to live on, and moved to Toledo to live with Valeriano. He had an unhappy marriage, and worked as an editor of an arts magazine. He died at age 34. After his death, his friends organized his manuscripts for publication, as a way to help his widow and children. They published the first edition of his work in 1871, and a second volume was published six years later. Further revisions came out on the editions released in 1881, 1885, and 1898.
by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer
For one look, one world,
for a smile, a sky,
for a kiss… I don’t know
What would I give you for a kiss.
Photo: The Southern Cross constellation