Archive for April, 2008

A Sampling of Edna St. Vincent Millay

April 26, 2008

One of the first books I read in the summer that I moved to New York was “Savage Beauty”, a biography of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. As was often the case with artists of the Jazz Age, Edna lived a rather tempestuous life: she had many lovers, drank heavily, and eventually died at a relatively young age from a heart attack, though she suffered from the symptoms of alcoholism and morphine addiction. She was the first woman to win the Pulitzer, however, and her talent and influence remain uncontested.

Edna is most well known for poems such as “Renascence” and “The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver”, and many of her verses were penned in taverns and cafes in Greenwich Village, the exclusive, beautifully historic neighborhood where Dave resided (and where I was fortunate enough to join him once we married). That first summer in New York, the biography and a street map provided me many enjoyable afternoons. I strolled through Greenwich Village, seeking out Edna’s former apartment and Chumley’s, a speakeasy well known for the attraction it held for writers and artists. Chumley’s is still serving, believe it or not! I loved stepping in, for despite the dinginess and faint smell of smoke, it is truly incredible to be sitting or standing in the same spot as a famous writer of the 20’s.

“First Fig” is one of Edna’s most oft-quoted poems:

“My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night. But ah my foes, and oh my friends, it gives a lovely light.”

A sonnet I particularly enjoy:

“Love is not all; it is not meat or drink
Nor slumber, nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And risk and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolutions’ power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.”

Finally, a simple poem that I hold very close to my heart. I have sent this poem to a very few precious people in my life, changing the color of the eyes to match them individually. The poem embodies the kind of person that I want to be, someone who seeks out the wisdom of loved ones, who provides for her family and friends a warm and comforting haven, who knows the value of spending time with each other (preferably with food and drink 🙂 ), and the simple pleasures of life.

“Tavern”

I’ll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill’s crest
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May set them down and rest.

There shall be plates a-plenty
And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
Who happen up the hill.

There sound will sleep the traveler
And dream his journey’s end
But I will rouse at midnight
The falling fire to tend.

Aye, ’tis a curious fancy-
But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
A long time ago.

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A delicious breakfast, if I do say so myself…

April 20, 2008

One of my new cookbook acquisitions is “Eat What You Crave,” by Ellie Krieger. Not only is it a beautifully photographed cookbook, it’s full of healthy, flavorful recipes that don’t seem to require vast amounts of effort. So far, I have made 4 of these recipes, and all have turned out splendidly.

My favorite, thus far, are the Whole Wheat Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce. Normally, I don’t turn much to breakfast recipes. For one, they are usually impractical during the week, and most weekends I’d rather enjoy a leisurely bowl of cereal or oatmeal and not have to do much work. The picture of the pancakes in the cookbook sorely tempted me to make a special Saturday breakfast, and I am surely glad that I did!

The light, fluffy side of pancakes that you see in pictures belie the difficulty of making them. They’re actually quite tricky. The pan has to be at just the right temperature-too hot, the pancakes will burn, not hot enough, they won’t cook properly in the middle. In the past, it has been a veritable comedy of errors for me as I’ve attempted to make pancakes.

This effort proved to be a wonderful change! I feel quite sure the reason for my success is entirely due to the buttermilk, which is commonly known to make pancakes especially light and airy. The pancakes cooked in record time, and I was easily able to watch the simmering strawberry sauce whilst flipping the little brown cakes.

I felt even better after devouring several of the pancakes. They were absolutely delicious, and made me feel quite responsible and healthy for using whole wheat flour. They reminded me very much of the wheat germ pancakes my Aunt Kathy whipped up for us once.

It was also a great feeling to have made the effort for a nice weekend breakfast. Dave and I sat in the sunny corner where our little dining room table resides and enjoyed piles of pancakes and hot coffee while perusing magazines. It was a really lovely breakfast, and I plan to make the pancakes often.