Thursday, May 28, 2015

Celebrating the 78th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge with Poetry

Golden Gate Bridge, Famous California Bridge, Red Suspension Bridge In California

Today is the 78th Anniversary celebration of The Golden Gate Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bridge opened to traffic on May 28, 1937. Here are a few fun facts about the bridge:

  • Construction started: 1933
  • Total length: 8,980' (2,737 m)
  • Elevation: 220' (67 m)
  • Architecture firm: Strauss Engineering Corp
  • Architects: Joseph Strauss, Charles Alton Ellis, Irving Morrow
  • Location: San Francisco, Marin County


According to History.com, here are 6 Things You May Not Know About the Golden Gate Bridge:

1. The military wanted the Golden Gate Bridge to be painted in stripes.
2. The Golden Gate Bridge’s signature color was not intended to be permanent. 
3. The Golden Gate Bridge’s original design was universally rejected.
4. The Golden Gate Bridge is the top suicide location in the world.
5. The Golden Gate Bridge had an impressive construction safety record.
6. Local citizens put their own properties up as collateral to finance construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here's a poem by Steve Hancock that pays homage to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge
by Steve Hancock

Fabricated steel of orange vermilion
Spanning the Golden gate Strait
A milieu backdropp of San Francisco
Of Marin headlands ornate

Cotton wool shrouds of cumbersome fog
Sweep forth from Pacific ocean
Erasing the vista of bridge deck expanse
Like magicians mysterious potion

Infamous towers soar mountain high
Like magnets alluring their prey
Where occasional mortals in suicide
Lose faith in a world gone astray 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Spotlight on Poet Sherley Anne Williams

Image credit: literature.ucsd.edu
Sherley Anne Williams (August 25, 1944 – July 6, 1999) was an African-American poet, novelist, professor and social critic. Williams was born in Bakersfield, California. When she was little her family picked cotton in order to get money. At the age of eight her father died of tuberculosis and when she was sixteen her mother died. In 1966 she earned her bachelor's degree in English at what is now California State University at Fresno and she received her master's degree at Brown University in 1972. The following year (1973) she became a professor of English Literature at the University of California at San Diego. She traveled to Ghana under a 1984 Fulbright grant.

Many of her works tell stories about her life in the African-American community, which include collections of poetry such as The Peacock Poems (1975), the novel Dessa Rose (1986), and two picture books. She also published the groundbreaking work Give Birth to Brightness: A Thematic Study of Neo-Black Literature in 1972.

On July 6, 1999, at the age of 54, Sherley Anne Williams, one of the great talents of the literary world, succumbed to cancer. Her son Malcolm, a sister, three nieces, and three grandchildren survive her. At the time of her death, she was working on a sequel to Dessa Rose. Williams identified with the struggles of lower income black women, and through her work, she continues to allow the rest of us to identify with them as well.

I am the women I speak of in my stories, my poems. The fact that I am a single mother sometimes makes it hard to bring this forth to embody it in the world, but it is precisely because I am a single mother of an only son that I try hard to do this. Women must leave a record for their men; otherwise how will they know us?
— Sherley Anne Williams

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Poetry by Alfred Joyce Kilmer

Image Credit: Wikipedia.org
Joyce Kilmer, born as Alfred Joyce Kilmer, (December 6, 1886 – July 30, 1918) was an American writer and poet mainly remembered for a short poem titled "Trees" (1913), which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914. Though a prolific poet whose works celebrated the common beauty of the natural world, as well as his Roman Catholic religious faith, Kilmer was also a journalist, literary critic, lecturer, and editor.

The words "Dulce et decorum est" were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." Please join us as we salute Memorial Day, with this poem by Alfred Joyce Kilmer.

Memorial Day
By Alfred Joyce Kilmer

     "Dulce et decorum est"

     The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
        But not of war it sings to-day.
     The road is rhythmic with the feet
        Of men-at-arms who come to pray.

     The roses blossom white and red
        On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
     Flags wave above the honored dead
        And martial music cleaves the sky.

     Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
        They kept the faith and fought the fight.
     Through flying lead and crimson steel
        They plunged for Freedom and the Right.

     May we, their grateful children, learn
        Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
     Who went through fire and death to earn
        At last the accolade of God.

     In shining rank on rank arrayed
        They march, the legions of the Lord;
     He is their Captain unafraid,
        The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Celebrating National Photo Month with a poem by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy
Image Credit: wikipedia.org

In celebration of National Photo Month, we are presenting this poem, The Photograph, by English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy. Make more memories today, by getting your camera out and snapping some photographs! Don't forget to sip a little tea in between your snapshots!

The Photograph
By Thomas Hardy

    The flame crept up the portrait line by line
    As it lay on the coals in the silence of night's profound,
     And over the arm's incline,
    And along the marge of the silkwork superfine,
    And gnawed at the delicate bosom's defenceless round.

    Then I vented a cry of hurt, and averted my eyes;
    The spectacle was one that I could not bear,
     To my deep and sad surprise;
    But, compelled to heed, I again looked furtive-wise
    Till the flame had eaten her breasts, and mouth, and hair.

    "Thank God, she is out of it now!" I said at last,
    In a great relief of heart when the thing was done
     That had set my soul aghast,
    And nothing was left of the picture unsheathed from the past
    But the ashen ghost of the card it had figured on.

    She was a woman long hid amid packs of years,
    She might have been living or dead; she was lost to my sight,
     And the deed that had nigh drawn tears
    Was done in a casual clearance of life's arrears;
    But I felt as if I had put her to death that night! . . .

    - Well; she knew nothing thereof did she survive,
    And suffered nothing if numbered among the dead;
     Yet - yet - if on earth alive
    Did she feel a smart, and with vague strange anguish strive?
    If in heaven, did she smile at me sadly and shake her head?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hump Day Poetry from Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Wednesday
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

    Half-way unto the end - the week's high noon.
    The morning hours do speed away so soon!
    And, when the noon is reached, however bright,
    Instinctively we look toward the night.
        The glow is lost
         Once the meridian cross'd.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (November 5, 1850 – October 30, 1919) was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion. Her most enduring work was "Solitude," which contains the lines: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone". A popular poet rather than a literary poet, in her poems she expresses sentiments of cheer and optimism in plainly written, rhyming verse. Her autobiography, The Worlds and I, was published in 1918, a year before her death.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Evening Star by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Evening Star, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Paul Revere's Ride
Image credit: Wikipedia.org
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Maine on February 27, 1807 and died on March 24, 1882. He was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, and was one of the five Fireside Poets. 

Longfellow wrote many lyric poems known for their musicality and often presenting stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. This poem is in the public domain.

The Evening Star
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  

Lo! in the painted oriel of the West,
Whose panes the sunken sun incarnadines,
Like a fair lady at her casement, shines
The evening star, the star of love and rest!
And then anon she doth herself divest
Of all her radiant garments, and reclines
Behind the sombre screen of yonder pines,
With slumber and soft dreams of love oppressed.
O my beloved, my sweet Hesperus!
My morning and my evening star of love!
My best and gentlest lady! even thus,
As that fair planet in the sky above,
Dost thou retire unto thy rest at night,
And from thy darkened window fades the light.