A Nearly Wordless Wednesday

A volume of Longfellow poems: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiA school prize - but so sad that the person who inscribed the volume of poems to Gertrude wasn't an apt speller: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiFamily record keeping, penned by Gertrude Saucier: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiSaucier Children and facing page of the Longfellow volume: Photo credit Carol Jost Fanconi

Voices of the Night

Hymn to the Night

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Aspasie, trillistos.

I heard the trailing garments of the Night
      Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
      From the celestial walls!
I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
      Stoop o’er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
      As of the one I love.
I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
      The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
      Like some old poet’s rhymes.
From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
      My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there, —
      From those deep cisterns flows.
O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
      What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
      And they complain no more.
Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
      Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
      The best-beloved Night!

 

[Edit: Serendipitous that Gertie chose the Longfellow poem that began with a variation on her younger sister’s middle name, don’t you think?]

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8 thoughts on “A Nearly Wordless Wednesday

    1. Jo Post author

      You’ve got that right, Julie. Just received those photos yesterday from our cousin Carol Jost Fanconi after she turned up the book – talk about finding buried treasure!

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  1. Carol Fanconi

    I have the book that is now more than 100 years old. It is falling apart but the writing is still quite clear. There is another page where Gertie began recording death dates and then a few more in another handwriting. I wonder how my grandmother Josephine ended up with it? It might have been given to my brother Michael Hudson Jost by Mable but then how would Mable have gotten it?

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    1. Jo Post author

      Good! I was hoping that you’d stop in and leave a comment explaining to all just what you had and its provenance. Thanks again for sharing, cousin!

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      1. mudmama

        Another interesting bit about the birth dates of all the siblings in the book: When Social Security came into being this transcription of birthdates was used as family verification for Social Security Benefits. (The Social Security Act was signed by FDR on 8/14/35. Taxes were collected for the first time in January 1937. The first one-time, lump-sum payments were made that same month. Regular ongoing monthly benefits started in January 1940.)

        So glad the book of Longfellow Poems survived and that my mother, Patricia Cowan Jost (eldest daughter of Josephine Saucier Cowan and Eugene Cowan)told me about the significance of the recorded dates.

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        1. Jo Post author

          However it came into your hands, I’m glad you’ve got it, and that you’ve shared it with us. The book and all of the family data truly is a treasure, Carol!

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  2. akagracie

    I’m not sure who came first: Longfellow or Shakespeare, but I suspect it was the latter because the book I have that was given to my maternal grandfather when he was a child (The Children’s Shakespeare, published in 1900) has pictures of children, while the Longfellow book I inherited from Grandma Sly (published in 1947, perhaps around the time he fell out of favor critically) has some scary drawings & etchings.
    Now that I think of it (and now that I’ve taken some time to look through my books), I think my first poetic love was actually Robert Louis Stevenson, whose A Child’s Garden of Verse was one of my first very-own books (along with Stories of Jesus and Little Black Sambo (and Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Hans Christian Anderson – what COULD my parents have been thinking?! Oh yes, perhaps the idea was to shut me up).
    I also have a 1945 version of Poems I Remember (ed., John Kieran) inscribed by my Great-Aunt Winifred to her mother. I memorized many poems from that book because I thought that’s what well-brought-up children do. (Yes, I was overly influenced by The Little Colonel and Little Women and the Anne books)
    No wonder I majored in English Lit: I needed to be around and receive support from people who grew up reading and believing in the authors who had influenced me.
    Although I could quote from all three authors (Longfellow, Shakespeare, Stevenson) at an irritatingly early age, I do remember thinking (a) I would like to marry R.L Stevenson when I grew up because he understood the excitement of a child’s imagination, (b) Shakespeare was my hero because he knew imagination was everything, and (c)The Children’s Hour was the way every family’s life should be conducted (once-daily interaction with a father who was delighted to spend that brief time with his daughters).
    Real life was never so satisfying.

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    1. Jo Post author

      Longfellow’s “Evangeline” was the first piece of poetry to make an impact on me, and I’ve never lost my fascination for epic poetry. But you know, IMHO, poetry can be found everywhere, from the lines penned by master poets. to the grand poetry of life found in a Tarentino movie. Just sayin’.

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