Sentient in San Francisco – 25 May 2020

A Poem for Memorial Day

“Not to Keep”
by Robert Frost

They sent him back to her. The letter came
Saying . . . And she could have him. And before
She could be sure there was no hidden ill
Under the formal writing, he was there,
Living. They gave him back to her alive—
How else? They are not known to send the dead—
And not disfigured visibly. His face?
His hands? She had to look, and ask,
‘What was it, dear?’ And she had given all
And still she had all—they had—they the lucky!
Wasn’t she glad now? Everything seemed won,
And all the rest for them permissible ease.
She had to ask, ‘What was it, dear?’

‘Enough
Yet not enough. A bullet through and through,
High in the breast. Nothing but what good care
And medicine and rest, and you a week,
Can cure me of to go again.’ The same
Grim giving to do over for them both.
She dared no more than ask him with her eyes
How was it with him for a second trial.
And with his eyes he asked her not to ask.
They had given him back to her, but not to keep.


This Date in Art History: Born 25 May 1926 – William Bowyer, an English painter.

Below – “The Beach”; “The Silver Thames”; “A Suffolk Hedgerow”; “Daisies in Walberswick”; “By a Window.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1935 – W. P. Kinsella, a Canadian novelist, short story writer, and author of “Shoeless Joe,” which was adapted into the movie “Field of Dreams.”

Some quotes from the work of W. P. Kinsella:

“Hardly anybody recognizes the most significant moments of their life at the time they happen.”
“Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple. Within the baselines anything can happen. Tides can reverse; oceans can open. That’s why they say, ‘the game is never over until the last man is out.’ Colors can change, lives can alter, anything is possible in this gentle, flawless, loving game.”
“America has been erased like a blackboard, only to be rebuilt and then erased again. But baseball has marked time while America has rolled by like a procession of steamrollers.”
“Growing up is a ritual, more deadly than religion, more complicated than baseball, for there seem to be no rules. Everything is experienced for the first time.”


This Date in Art History: Born 25 May 1926 – David Wynne, an English sculptor.

Below – “Girl with a Dolphin”; “The Swimmers”; “Boy with a Dolphin”; “Heron”; “River God Tyne.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1938 – Raymond Carver, an award-winning American short story writer and poet: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Raymond Carver:

“Life and death matters, yes. And the question of how to behave in this world, how to go in the face of everything. Time is short and the water is rising.”
“If we’re lucky, writer and reader alike, we’ll finish the last line or two of a short story and then just sit for a minute, quietly. Ideally, we’ll ponder what we’ve just written or read; maybe our hearts or intellects will have been moved off the peg just a little from where they were before. Our body temperature will have gone up, or down, by a degree. Then, breathing evenly and steadily once more, we’ll collect ourselves, writers and readers alike, get up, ‘created of warm blood and nerves’ as a Chekhov character puts it, and go on to the next thing: Life. Always life.”
“There isn’t enough of anything as long as we live. But at intervals a sweetness appears and, given a chance prevails.”
“It ought to make us feel ashamed when we talk like we know what we’re talking about when we talk about love.”
“Dreams, you know, are what you wake up from.”
“The places where water comes together with other water. Those places stand out in my mind like holy places.”

This Date in Art History: Died 25 May 1937 – Henry Ossawa Turner, an American artist and the first African-American painter to gain International acclaim.

Below – “Spinning By Firelight”; “The Arch”; “The Banjo Lesson”; “The Seine”; Untitled (Moonlit Landscape with Cottage); “Still-Life with Fruit.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1938 – Raymond Carver, an award-winning American short story writer and poet: Part II of II.

“Late Fragment”
by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.


This Date in Art History: Died 25 May 1943 – Nils von Dardel, a Swedish painter.

Below – “Japanese Woman”; “Portrait of Nita Wallenbert”; “Two Girls”; “Mexican Girl”; “Self Portrait”; “Black Diana.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 25 May 1908 – Theodore Roethke, an American poet, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, and two-time recipient of the National Book Award.

“The Waking”
by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

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