Friday, January 22, 2010

Joanna Baillie

I apologize for the sporadic posting of late. The school term is started, and I've had to prepare my courses. I taught a little-known poet today, one who has finally made the canonical leap into the Norton Anthology of British Literature. She wasn't there when I was student so many years ago,  and thus she remained a mystery to me until recently. Joanna Baillie, a Scottish poet and writer, represents a figure immensely popular in her time, but is someone lost to history and the male-dominated canon-making of the early twentieth century. She writes wonderfully about domestic life (much like Marie Caillbotte painting in the Impressionist era) and what it was like to see the first steam-ships throwing off the chains of wind and nature's whim. She also wrote about trees. I taught my class an "Address to a Steamvessel" today (well worth reading), but for you, I give you Baillie's (bay leaf's?) meditation on a leaf:

The Last Leaf
Thou last pale relic from yon widow'd tree,
Hovering awhile in air, as if to leave
Thy native sprig reluctant, how I grieve,
And heave the sigh of kindred sympathy,

That thou art fall'n!--for I too whilom play'd
Upon the topmost bough of youth's gay spring;
Have sported blithe on summer's golden wing;
And now I see my fleeting autumn fade.

Yet, "sear and yellow leaf," though thou and I
Thus far resemble, and this frame, like thee,
In the cold silent ground be doom'd to lie,
Thou never more will climb thy parent tree;

But I, through faith in my Redeemer, trust,
That I shall rise again, ev'n from the dust.

Baillie on

No comments:

Post a Comment