William Butler Yeats, “Song of Wandering Aengus” / Trina Schart Hyman for Cricket Magazine

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This is my fourth and final post in honor of William B. Yeats’s 150-year anniversary. I’m backtracking all the way to my initial encounter with Yeats’s poetry.

Cricket magazine published “The Song of Wandering Aengus” in its September 1974 issue, as a two-page spread with an illustration by Trina Schart Hyman (1939-2004).

Continue reading “William Butler Yeats, “Song of Wandering Aengus” / Trina Schart Hyman for Cricket Magazine”

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William Butler Yeats, “When You Are Old” / “Peggy Sue Got Married”

peggy sue collage

Part three of my personal tribute to Yeats and his 150th anniversary.

I remember a scene or two from the 1986 film “Peggy Sue Got Married” (directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Kathleen Turner) in which Yeats’s poetry was mentioned. In case you haven’t seen this movie: Peggy Sue Bodell is an unhappily married, forty-something woman who attends her high school reunion and wonders what her life would have been like if she’d just made some different choices.

She finds out soon enough, when she faints at the reunion and time-travels back to her senior year of high school.

Continue reading “William Butler Yeats, “When You Are Old” / “Peggy Sue Got Married””

William Butler Yeats, “No Second Troy” / Sinead O’Connor, “Troy”

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Part Two: this one dates back to my teen years.

Even if I had tried, I wouldn’t have been able to keep track of the times I listened to Sinead O’Connor’s debut album “The Lion and The Cobra,” first on vinyl and then on CD. I loved nearly every track on that album, but “Troy” was one of my favorites. It ran well over six minutes long and it really did feel epic (long before that word became overused) — it had highs and lows of volume and emotion.

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William B. Yeats Sesquicentennial!

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I’m doing some studying up on John Singer Sargent this month, for work-related purposes, and last week I was admiring Sargent’s 1908 drawing of the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. The, just a few days ago, I heard this radio story on WNYC (now illustrated on the WNYC website with the same image!). I didn’t realize until now that 2015 is the 150th anniversary of Yeats’s birth. All kinds of events are being held in the poet’s honor, so I think I’ll be writing my own series of short posts about Yeats this month, featuring four of my favorite poems by Yeats and the ways I first learned about them.. Stay tuned…

Image: John Singer Sargent, William B. Yeats, 1908. Private collection.

Quick Reads: “The Vase of Perfume” by Chang Wu-Chien

mfa boston jade flask


The Vase of Perfume

Chang Wu-chien, translated by Gertrude L. Joerissen

 

If I open this flask of jade, in which is enclosed a

wondrous perfume, its mysterious fragrance will

overpower thee.

 

When I caress thee, O my vase of amber, do not

breathe forth thy amorous thoughts.

 

Image: Jade snuff bottle, 18th century, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 95.817.

Quick Reads: Frank O’Hara, “A Step Away from Them” (excerpt)

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Frank O’Hara’s poetry collection “Lunch Poems,” first published in 1964, is celebrating its 50-year anniversary.

I own a small used paperback copy of “Lunch Poems” that I bought two years ago. I had heard that O’Hara wrote many of these poems during his lunch breaks while working at the Museum of Modern Art, so I thought I might occasionally read a poem or two during my own museum-job lunch breaks.

Here’s the first stanza of “A Step Away from Them,” written in 1956. It’s a vintage slice of New York in summertime.


It’s my lunch hour, so I go

for a walk amongst the hum-colored

cabs. First, down the sidewalk

where laborers feed their dirty

glistening torsos sandwiches

and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets

on. They protect them from falling 

bricks, I guess. Then onto the

avenue where skirts are flipping

above heels and blow up over

grates. The sun is hot, but the

cabs stir up the air. I look 

at bargains in wristwatches. There

are cats playing in sawdust.

 

To read the entire poem, click here.

To read a short New York Times article about the anniversary of “Lunch Poems,” click here.

Image: Leonard Freed, Wall Street, 1956.