‘The Flower’

George Herbert (1593–1633) was a priest who composed devotional poems as a hobby. As he approached his early death (age 39), he collected his poems and submitted them for publication.

That collection, The Temple, went through eight editions in the next few decades, which speaks to its popularity in 17th century England. In a tumultuous era, his voice—calm, assured, embracing doubt as a necessary part of devotion—was a beloved one.

“Who would have thought my shriveled heart / Could have recovered greenness?” he asks in “The Flower.” He adds, “It was gone / Quite underground.” The poem, after the jump:
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Auden’s ‘September 1, 1939’

Shortly before his death, the poet W.H. Auden told talk-show host (and former politician) Richard Crossman, “Nothing I wrote prevented one Jew from being gassed or stalled the war for five seconds.”

At first glance, this places the bar very high for the role of a writer in the affairs of the world, but it is simply a stark assessment of the reality that a writer has no say in the practical matters of life and death. He is not saying that words do not matter but is instead drawing the boundary between where they do matter and where they can not. Writers are makers and not doers, not “men of action,” Auden also liked to say.
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‘Nobody is sleeping in the sky’

It is believed that August 19 is the date on which the poet Federico García Lorca (above) was assassinated by Nationalist forces in Spain. The killing was 80 years ago today. The poet was 38.

Lorca was murdered during the Spanish Civil War by soldiers on the Nationalist side, the Francoists. In “Fable and Round of the Three Friends,” he foresaw, in his surrealist fashion, his own end:
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