Known primarily as a novelist, Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) was an American writer. He published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, published in(1969.
I do like this short poem of his which I came across only recently. Apparently it was never given a title by Vonnegut and was discovered in a letter of 1961 sent by him to a friend. It has a delightfully simple and artless warmth which engenders such good feeling and optimism.
Two little good girls Watchful and wise — Clever little hands And big kind eyes — Look for signs that the world is good, Comport themselves as good folk should. They wonder at a father Who is sad and funny strong, And they wonder at a mother Like a childhood song. And what, and what Do the two think of? Of the sun And the moon And the earth And love.
Not to be confused with his more famous namesake who played such an important role in the early colonisation of North America, (1582 – 1618), Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861 – 1922) was an English scholar, poet, and author. He was born in London, the fifth child and only son of a local Congregation minister. Raleigh is buried in the churchyard of the parish church of St. Lawrence at North Hinksey, near Oxford. His son Hilary edited his light prose, verse, and plays in ‘Laughter from a Cloud (1923). He is probably best known for the poem “Wishes of an Elderly Man, Wished at a Garden Party, June 1914”.
It is this poem, bitter-sweet and with its pessimistic view of mankind, but not without its wry humour, which I have chosen to remind my readers of today . . .
I wish I loved the Human Race
I wish I loved the Human Race; I wish I loved its silly face; I wish I liked the way it walks; I wish I liked the way it talks; And when I’m introduced to one, I wish I thought ‘What Jolly Fun’.
A poem written to keep in my memory the thoughts engendered by the music played at my wife’s funeral eight weeks ago today. Composed by Vaughan Williams, ‘The Lark Ascending’ was very much her favourite piece of classical music. The version used was played on the violin by the Scottish violinist, Nicola Benedetti, and can be heard on YouTube at: ‘The Lark Ascending’
I weep my truths in poetry And from my unconscious mind In the borderlands there Where the finite And the incomprehensible meet My secrets are torn Crying to be freed To be revealed In poured out singing words Shed in images Subtle revelatory pictures My art telling of those wondrous places Secreted within my core Which for good or ill I never will Access in any other way Than through my weeping soul