Introduction to The Pocket University Guide to Daily Reading, and this series of posts.
Armistice Day 11 N. 1918
- Edith Wharton’s “The Young Dead“
- Alice Meynell’s “A Dead Harvest”
- Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall“
A Dead Harvest [In Kensington Gardens]
Along the graceless grass of town
They rake the rows of red and brown,
Dead leaves, unlike the rows of hay,
Delicate, neither gold nor grey,
Raked long ago and far away.
A narrow silence in the park;
Between the lights a narrow dark.
One street rolls on the north, and one,
Muffled, upon the south doth run.
Amid the mist the work is done.
A futile crop; for it the fire
Smoulders, and, for a stack, a pyre.
So go the town's lives on the breeze,
Even as the sheddings of the trees;
Bosom nor barn is filled with these.
In contrast to the understandably somber offerings today, let’s look at Alice [Thompson] Meynell’s (1847-1922) life and work. Born near London, she spend most of her childhood in Italy. She and her sister were taught by their father, a friend of Dickens, who “tutored them to such good purpose that few writers of English have had so intimate knowledge of their native literature” as she. Her first volume of poems, Preludes, was published by Tennyson’s press, and praised by Ruskin, Rossett, and George Eliot. She married Meynell and they had eight children.
Somehow, with all this toil…she managed also to take part in social endeavors–to do humanitarian work, to become an active advocate of women’s suffrage, above all, with her husband, to care for the derelict genius, Francis Thompson. Simple, frugal living and most open hospitality were the rule at the Meynells…. [T]heir uncarpeted floors and ever-welcoming table…
Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft. Twentieth Century Authors: A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature. The H.W. Wilson Company, New York. 1956. 1942.