Today’s Caturday comes from legendary writer Robert Louis Stevenson (sort of) - it’s a photomechanical print depicting his poem “The Land Of Counterpane.” Note the adorable kitten on the end of the bed trying to cheer up the little boy, who is sick in bed and playing with his toy soldiers. The print by artist C.M. Burd is currently in the Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection (a collection Andy Warhol used, by the way) and was originally in a book of Stevenson’s Children’s Verses (likely from 1913, although it’s not totally clear). So happy Caturday! Love Robert Louis Stevenson? Check out some of his writing from NYPL! Or, if you want to do some serious research, the Library’s Berg Collection has some of Robert Louis Stevenson’s papers. Cool, right?
Walt Whitman manuscript, “Go, said his soul to a poet.”
The manuscript is comprised of two unequal-sized sheets of paper pasted together. Note in ink in Whitman’s hand running along upper left says: “Scrap of Rough Draft / W Whitman.” Additional note in Whitman’s hand written in red ink along seam where the two sheets are joined: “inscription on title page last edition Leaves of Grass.”
…when at eve returning with thy car,
Awaiting heard the jingling bells from far;
Straight on the fire the sooty pot I plac’d,
To warm thy broth I burnt my hands in haste.
When hungry thou stood’st staring, like an oaf,
I slic’d the luncheon from the barley loaf;
With crumbled bread I thicken’d well the mess.
Ah! Love me more, or love thy pottage less!
Part of the poem “The Shepard’s Week” by John Gay (1685-1732). This use of the word “luncheon” is cited in dictionary definitions of the word “lunch,” including those by Webster and Johnson. A “lunch” or “luncheon” used to mean a chunk, a piece - something you could hold in your hand - and which was eaten any time of day as a snack.
Click the link to read the rest of the long poem, which is quite funny in parts, in a digitized version of the book published in 1871 and donated to the Harvard University Library by Gay’s nephew.
For more lunch tidbits, come see Lunch NYC, our new exhibition!
My guess, that’s good training to be a poet or a writer of any kind.
His birthday is today, June 1.
Here’s the first part of one of his poems:
I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song
and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and
a grey dawn breaking
- John Flood, Hudson Park Branch Library
The Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith comes to the Schomburg Center this Saturday:
Congratulations to Tracy K. Smith!
On Monday, her birthday, Smith won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection Life on Mars. Brooklynite Smith, an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton, is one of the poets featured in our National Poetry Month blog post, A Poem a Day.
Join Tracy at the Pen World Festival here at the Schomburg Center on May 5!
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said — “two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert … near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.” —
More P. B. Shelley for you poetry lovers. “Ozymandias,” first published January 11, 1918, is here in its entirety. See our exhibition Shelley’s Ghost for more, including an original manuscript of this poem, which has never been exhibited in the United States before.
What’s that you say? You can’t make it to the library this spring? Well, fortunately for you - here’s the manuscript online.
Happy National Poetry Month!
Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!
Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
— The first two stanzas of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “To a Skylark,” 1820. Learn more about Shelley and his work at our exhibition Shelley’s Ghost: The Afterlife of a Poet, on view at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building through June.
Rise, like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew,
Which in sleep had fall’n on you
From “The Masque of Anarchy” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. First published in 1832, three years after Shelley’s death, the poem seems newly relevant in the Occupy Wall Street / Arab Spring era. You can read the full poem here to see what we mean.
Learn more about Shelley by visiting the exhibition “Shelley’s Ghost” at the Library through June.
Happy National Poetry Month!
I love all waste / And solitary places; where we taste / The pleasure of believing what we see / Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be…
— Percy Bysshe Shelley, from “Julian and Maddalo.” Learn more about Shelley and his circle of literary friends and family at Shelley’s Ghost, a new exhibition.
MUSIC, when soft voices die, / Vibrates in the memory. — / ODOURS, when sweet violets sicken, / Live within the sense they quicken. —
— “To…” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Learn more about Shelley’s poetry at Shelley’s Ghost, at the NYPL through June 24.