Sunday, April 10, 2016

Library Loot # 6 meets NPM :)

A Summer of Hummingbirds: Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain , Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade 

by Christopher Benfey

The country's most noted writers, poets, and artists converge at a singular moment in American life.

At the close of the Civil War, the lives of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade intersected in an intricate map of friendship, family, and romance that marked a milestone in the development of American art and literature. Using the image of a flitting hummingbird as a metaphor for the gossamer strands that connect these larger-than-life personalities, Christopher Benfey re-creates the summer of 1882, the summer when Mabel Louise Todd-the protégé to the painter Heade-confesses her love for Emily Dickinson's brother, Austin, and the players suddenly find themselves caught in the crossfire between the Calvinist world of decorum, restraint, and judgment and a new, unconventional world in which nature prevails and freedom is all. (

I just began this book last night, and it promises to be a very interesting read. In light of all the literary nobles caught up in events, I give you a poem from each.

She Walks in Beauty

By Lord Byron (George Gordon)
She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!
A Book
by Emily Dickinson 

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul! 
Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made Of
by Thomas Wentworth Higginson
 NOW all the cloudy shapes that float and lie
Within this magic globe we call the brain
Fold quite away, condense, withdraw, refrain,
And show it tenantless--an empty sky.
Return, O parting visions, pass not by;
Nor leave me vacant still, with strivings vain,
Longing to grasp at your dim garment's train,
And be drawn on to sleep's immunity.
I lie and pray for fancies hovering near;
Oblivion's kindly troop, illusions blest;
Dim, trailing phantoms in a world too clear;
Soft, downy, shadowy forms, my spirit's nest;
The warp and woof of sleep; till, freed from fear,
I drift in sweet enchantment back to rest. 


by Harriet Beecher Stowe

All dark! - no light, no ray!
Sun, moon, and stars, all gone!
Dimness of anguish! - utter void! -
Crushed, and alone!

One waste of weary pain,
One dull, unmeaning ache,
A heart too weary even to throb,
Too bruised to break.

No longer anxious thoughts,
No longer hopes and fears,
No strife, no effort, no desire,
No tears.

Daylight and leaves and flowers,
Summer and song of bird! -
All vanished! - dreams forever gone,
Unseen, unheard!

Love, beauty, youth, - all gone!
The high, heroic vow,
The buoyant hope, the fond desire,-
All ashes now!

The words they speak to me
Far off and distant seem,
As voices we have known and loved
Speak in a dream.

They bid me to submit;
I do, - I cannot strive;
I do not question, - I endure,
Endure and live.

I do not struggle more,
Nor pray, for prayer is vain;
I but lie still the weary hour,
And bear my pain.

A guiding God, a Friend,
A Father's gracious cheer,
Once seemed my own; but now even faith
Lies buried here.

This darkened, deathly life
Is all remains of me,
And but one conscious wish, -
To cease to be! 
Warm Summer Sun
by Mark Twain

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.

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