Friday, September 17, 2010

Poetry Friday: "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?"

from Thornton Wilder's Our Town:

Emily: Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners ... Mama and Papa. good-by to clocks ticking and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths ... and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. (She looks toward the Stage Manager and asks abruptly through her tears): 

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?

Stage Manager: No. (Pause.) The saints and poets, maybe -- they do, some.


Anne-with-an-e just read Our Town, a play I fell in love with when I was in high school, when I was really too young to fully appreciate it. Still, there is much in it to be appreciated when one is that age, and Anne appreciated it to the fullest extent possible for one so young.

The play was inspired by Edgar Lee Masters' Lucinda Matlock, and the works share common themes about life -- both the mundane and profound aspects of it, and the ways in which those are intertwined.

The stuff of saints and poets.

Lucinda Matlock

by Edgar Lee Masters

I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed—
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.


You'll find this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Wild Rose Reader.


Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

Wow! Those are blasts from the past. Has it been that long? We performed Our Town in high school (I was Mrs. Webb) and Spoon River Anthology (which is a good read but can be very dark, if I remember correctly). We even added our own Masters-like characters to Spoon River as a drama exercise. Good thing I read this before we headed out to the library this morning. I think you've inspired a little sentimental journey!

Karen E. said...

Oh, fun, Charlotte! Have a good time with it. I'm having fun reliving it with Anne, and Betsy is next. (I was never in the play, though.)

Lissa said...

I was Rebecca Gibbs! Sophomore year. I quote those butternut tree lines all the time. This post gave me such a smile!

Melanie B said...

Oh I remember how much I adored Our Town when I first discovered it. I don't remember when, maybe junior high, I saw a production of it. I haven't thought of it in a long time. I'm sure it would read very differently now than it did then.