Thank you to all who volunteered, ran, walked, cheered, schlepped, limped, cheered, chilled, and/or ate at the 43rd UCity Memorial Day Run on Monday. Proceeds go toward supporting The Green Center, UCity in Bloom, and the University City Library. It was a wonderful day for a race--sunny but not too hot--and it proved yet again that University City is best seen on foot...and much more hilly than one would think.
This afternoon at 4:00pm we will be discussing Emily Dickinson's poem "A Bird, came down the Walk - ". As always, no prior poetry experience is necessary--we just read, react, and learn from each other. See you at The Green Center!
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) was more than a novelist, poet, and translator. An avid lepidopterist, he also was the first to discovery and describe the Plebejus Melissa samuelis, also known as the Karner Blue butterfly. Nabokov found the butterfly in the Albany Pine Bush, between Albany and Schenectady, near a town named Karner, New York. The following poem was written by Nabokov in 1943, first appearing in the New Yorker under the title "On Discovering a Butterfly".
by Vladimir Nabokov
I found it in a legendary land
all rocks and lavender and tufted grass,
where it was settled on some sodden sand
hard by the torrent of a mountain pass.
The features it combines mark it as new
to science: shape and shade--the special tinge,
akin to moonlight, tempering its blue,
the dingy underside, the checquered fringe.
My needles have teased out its sculptured sex;
corroded tissues could no longer hide
that priceless mote now dimpling the convex
and limpid teardrop on a lighted slide.
Smoothly a screw is turned; out of the mist
two ambered hooks symmetrically slope,
or scales like battledores of amethyst
cross the charmed circle of the microscope.
I found it and I named it, being versed
in taxonomic Latin; thus became
godfather to an insect and its first
describer--and I want no other fame.
Wide open on its pin (though fast asleep),
and safe from creeping relatives and rust,
in the secluded stronghold where we leep
type specimens it will transcend its dust.
Dark pictures, thrones, the stones that pilgrims kiss,
poems that take a thousand years to die
but ape the immortality of this
red label on a little butterfly.
With Memorial Day in mind, here is Herman Melville's poem "Shiloh: A Requiem (April 1862)". Thank you to all who have served, both living and dead. Requiescat In Pace.
Shiloh: A Requiem (April 1862)
by Herman Melville
Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
The forest-field of Shiloh--
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of nigh
That followed the Sunday fight
Around the church of Shiloh--
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
And natural prayer
Of dying foemen mingled there--
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve--
Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
And all is hushed at Shiloh.
Happy Birthday to American painter Mary Cassatt, born on May 22, 1844. Born in Pennsylvania, she lived in France most of her life. She was a figure painter of great distinction who showed among the Impressionists, worked with Edgar Degas, and was awarded the Legion d'honneur in 1904. In Tea from 1880, she can be seen encouraging anyone to come enjoy tea and a discussion of poetry on Wednesdays at 4:00pm at The Green Center.