The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
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Poem for Sunday


A Heap O' Livin'
By Edgar Guest


It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home,
A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam
Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef' behind,
An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus on yer mind.
It don't make any differunce how rich ye get t' be,
How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great yer luxury;
I ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped round everything.

Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin' in it;
Within the walls there's got t' be some babies born, and then
Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women good, an' men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn't part
With anything they ever used -- they've grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumb marks on the door.

Ye've got t' weep t' make it home, ye've got t' sit an' sigh
An' watch beside a loved one's bed, an' know that Death is nigh;
An' in the stillness o' the night t' see Death's angel come,
An' close the eyes o' her that smiled,
an' leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart,
an' when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an' sanctified;
An' tuggin' at ye always are the pleasant memories
O' her that was an' is no more -- ye can't escape from these.

Ye've got t' sing an' dance fer years, ye've got t' romp an' play,
An' learn t' love the things ye have by usin' 'em each day;
Even the roses 'round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they 'come a part o' ye, suggestin' someone dear
Who used t' love 'em long ago, an' trained 'em jes' t' run
The way they do, so's they would get the early mornin' sun;
Ye've got t' love each brick an' stone from cellar up t' dome:
It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home.

--------

From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. "One-time poetry stars such as Felicia Hemans, Edgar Guest and Joyce Kilmer maintain small, devoted followings, but are best known for 'bad poetry'" -- which Pinsky says that, like pornography, you assume you can recognize but often can't define. Guest, who wrote a poem-a-day newspaper column, produced a great deal of poetry and was a big bestseller; in the poem above, Pinsky notes, "the ideas are banal, but the writing is skillful. The feeling is glibly oversimplified, but in an effective way that makes phrases easier to remember, like a simple tune. The very triteness of 'ye sometimes have t'roam/ Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef' behind,' the very flatness of 'It don't make any differunce how rich ye get t' be' makes those phrases more reassuring, more comfortable."

Older son went to a Bar Mitzvah with my parents -- a boy his year who was my mother's Hebrew school classroom aide, so we don't know the family -- and after younger son's last soccer game of the year, we went to the National Zoo to see the baby sloth bear, the new rescued sea lions and the baby kiwi (who regrettably was not on display, nor were the baby tigers though we knew that before we left). It was an utterly magnificent 70ish degree day and the zoo was mobbed...it took us nearly half an hour to park, but once we got there we found a picnic table and had lunch brought from home and walked down to see the beavers, wolves, etc. just because we like them and wandered around most of the outdoor exhibits -- not the pandas this time, we didn't have advance tickets and it was mobbed. It will take many days to display all the cuteness.


The baby sloth bear at the National Zoo, born in January.


Here is the Smithsonian's sloth bear web page. And here is the latest on the building of the Asia Trail, where the bears are going to live.


The mother bear was so protective of the cub (which was born bald and, we are told, really not all that adorable by baby panda standards) that the vets didn't know the sex until it was several months old, because they couldn't get near it.


The daddy bear is in a separate enclosure but definitely knew the mommy and baby were there and kept coming over to try to watch them.


They were out till 2 p.m., at which point they were fed and went running inside!
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Otherwise I had stress about Bar Mitzvah invitations, stress about trip stuff and enormous stress about work-related stuff and money. I am in a very untenable situation and am realizing I can't do a damn thing about it, and I also probably shouldn't talk about it until it works itself out one way or another. So I am just going to look at the cute animals some more and hope that Sunday, when we are going to Baltimore, there will be shorter lines to get aboard the Godspeed as well as the HMS Northumberland which is visiting! Oh, look, it's my half-birthday; do I get half a cake? Six months till forty...I better get cracking on all those things I wanted to do before I turned forty!
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