When I tour the Illustrated Poetry archives, I usually find myself in “revision and update” mode; like with any draft, time gives me fresh eyes to see my old posts. But occasionally I come across a published post and think, “no revision necessary, I would do it exactly that way again.” That is a pretty good feeling (rare as it is!), and so I’d like to re-post one that earned such an accolade.
As I mentioned a year ago, this trim quatrain has become the lasting legacy of poet, activist, and educator Sarah N. Cleghorn (1876 – 1959). She devoted her life to working for numerous causes and published a great deal, but the continued fame of The Golf Links has led her to be most closely associated with the movement to end child labor in the United States. Published over one hundred years ago, this poem feels firmly rooted in the past; however, in many parts of the world child labor is a current and ongoing problem. Perhaps this mighty little poem still has work to do…Photograph and composition by me.
The painter and sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) wrote this quatrain on his own sculpture Night, which is one of several masterpieces of his decorating the Medici Tomb in Florence. With most of the popular emphasis on Michelangelo’s sculpture and painting, I often forget that he was also a prolific poet, writing hundreds of sonnets and epigrams. But this short poem particularly struck me because of its self-reflective ekphrastic theme. For a photograph of Night, a different translation of this poem, and an interesting discussion about an attribute of the statue that has, shall we say, attracted attention through the centuries, click here.
I’m continuing my no-erase policy and experimenting with some textured cardboard and paint. This time it meant I wound up with two illustrations! To see the other one scroll down or click the “Read More” button. Poem by Michelangelo Buonarroti, translated by William Wordsworth, painting and composition by me. Have a wonderful weekend! (more…)
It is a great pleasure to be able to revisit this particular short poem and update my post about it. When I presented this poem back in March of this year (you can click here to travel back in time to it), I mentioned that the poet herself was a bit of a mystery. Despite the inclusion of this poem in multiple anthologies and the wide debate about the usage of metaphor in poetry it provokes, the only information about Ms. Treasone I could find was a two-line obituary for a woman of the same name that did not mention poetry. But not long ago her daughter, Ellen, contacted me and let me know that it was her mother’s obituary and that I made the correct identification. I asked if I could share her note with you all, and she agreed.
She wrote, “I told her how proud I was of her for writing such a poem that would make people think, although it was very short, she told me it just meant; life is hard & a struggle and if you can figure out a way to cope and remember your mistakes, you can have a chance at happiness in your heart.”
A lovely sentiment – and I couldn’t agree more. I redesigned my illustration to reflect a mandala. Photo collage and composition by me, poem by Ms. Grace Marie Treasone (1925-2011), a poet and resident of Sarasota, Florida.
This quatrain is the preface to Robert W. Service’s book of World War I poetry Rhymes of a Red Cross Man – already 41 years old when WWI started, Service was turned down for military service and so volunteered with the Red Cross. He has a biography as full as anyone could wish for – traveling widely and achieving literary acclaim during his life. Born in England, he was known as the “Poet of the Yukon” for his time spent and poems written in Western Canada. Collage and composition by me. Have a lovely weekend!
Walter de la Mare is usually remembered for his much longer poem, “The Listeners” – and like that famous poem, in the short quatrain, “And So to Bed,” de la Mare leaves us wondering what unspoken thing happened before the action in the poem. For me, it is always so tempting to try to fill in the blanks…Composition and photograph by me. Have a good weekend!
Today’s quatrain is from another mysterious poet – despite this poem’s inclusion in a number of anthologies and websites, I could find next to nothing about the author. I did find an obituary for a Grace Treasone whose life would have encompassed the correct time frame (the poem is listed as having been written around 1963); it did not mention poetry, but the name is unusual enough that I have included those dates here. Another thing I discovered about this poem is that it spends a fair bit of time on “worst of” poetry lists, both online and in books (it does get the occasional vote of confidence, though). When choosing a poem to illustrate, I have never considered such rankings – I look for poems that pair with images and ideas in my imagination and then I seek to execute what I have in mind. The research comes afterward when writing the post. I am curious what folks think of it. I will say that, as someone who has suffered from dental problems all of my life, I did sympathize with the metaphor! Photo collage (the lower one is of a reliquary from the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and composition by me.
Robert Herrick was the youngest child of a goldsmith and was expected to follow suit, but he rebelled and left his apprenticeship early to study at Saint John’s College, Cambridge and eventually became a devoted admirer of the famous poet Ben Jonson. Herrick’s poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” (of “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may…” fame), is now routinely included in English Literature/Poetry curricula and anthologies, so it is surprising to learn that his poetry was not at all popular in his own time and his singular large volume of poetry made not a single literary ripple upon publication! Photograph and composition by me.
“The Golf Links” is a quatrain that has become the lasting legacy of poet, activist, and educator Sarah N. Cleghorn (1876 – 1959). I discovered it in an old anthology of poems that had been placed in a “free” box at my local library. Although sources cite her life long work on behalf of women’s suffrage, education reform, and civil rights and against (most notably for this poem) child labor, her multiple volumes of poems, and autobiography with personal preface by Robert Frost – this short poem, published in 1916, is the only one mentioned by name and one of only a few found online. Photograph and composition by me.
My humble attempt yesterday on Red String Paper Cuts at writing a ruba’i (a Persian quatrain form with a rhyme scheme of aaba) shall be followed here by one from the master of Rubaiyat himself, Omar Khayyam. Edward FitzGerald garnered much fame from his translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, essentially introducing the form and poetry of the classical Persian poet (and mathematician, and astronomer, and philosopher, among other accomplishments) to the English speaking world. The first line of this ruba’i has been repeated, used, adapted, and quoted so often in popular culture (an example was recently on the Big Bang Theory TV show), that it has become dissociated from its source – I know this was true for me until recently – so it is good to reunite it to the whole! The entire Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam can be found online for free in many places – but two I found are here and here. Photograph and composition by me. Have a wonderful weekend!
The illustrated poetry for today is a combination of Old Poem Saturday and Aleatory Thursday! The poem is “Death,” a quatrain by John Vance Cheney, and the composition, drawing, and collage is by me. The art was inspired by my second experiment with aleatory (introducing random chance) creativity techniques – I splattered ink on a NASA press release and transcribed the words that could still be read. This time I was inspired to use the splattered paper itself while the words describing the stars and galaxies that remained led me to pair it with this poem.