A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Amy Lowell

Biography is not my favorite genre, but nevertheless two particular biographies have endeared themselves to me. One is a two-volume work by Eve Curie about her mother, Marie, and the other is S. Foster Damon's 1935 Amy Lowell. I read these in junior high school for book reports. The former is two thick volumes, translated from the French, and the latter a hefty 773 pages. Spend that much time learning about someone's life and you are bound to come away with an appreciation.

The books were not my own; they were checked out of the Forest Park branch of the public library. That branch was right across the street from my junior high school, and probably the place I spent the most time in my childhood, after home and school. At least until I went to high school--at that point it was probably home, school, and the downtown branch of the library. That main branch was across the street from my high school.

 One of the perks of my current location is its proximity to the downtown branch of that same library. If anyone had told me in the 1950s or 1960s that I would go away to college, live on three different continents, and end up two blocks from my old high school and library, I would have had difficulty believing it. But that's what happened. And anyone who knows this blog knows my appreciation for the free shelf in that downtown library.

So imagine my pleasure a while back at finding a copy of Amy Lowell's biography on said free shelf. My pleasure turned to amazement when I realized it was the self-same copy I had checked out probably in 1961, discarded by the Forest Park branch. Now it's a treasured addition to my own library. As the King of France says to King Lear, "Be it lawful I take up what's cast away."

Today is the 140th birthday of Amy Lowell, Massachusetts socialite and poetess, critic and translator, friend and rival of Ezra Pound, cigar-smoking antifeminist beloved of current feminists. She was born in Brookline, buried in Cambridge. I think I'll celebrate her birthday tonight by re-reading her biography.

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