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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Those 'Single Lovely Actions'

“All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.” – James Russell Lowell

Born in Cambridge, Mass., on Feb. 22, 1819, Lowell was associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets to rival the popularity of British poets like Byron, Shelley and Keats.  The American writers used conventional forms and meters in their poetry, making them suitable for families entertaining at their fireside.     
                            Lowell believed the poet played an important role as prophet and critic of society, using poetry for reform, particularly in abolitionism.  Also a professor at Harvard and one of the first editors of The Atlantic Monthly, he finished his long, distinguished career as a diplomat, serving as Ambassador to Spain and Great Britain.  “The greatest homage we can pay to truth,” Lowell wrote, “is to use it.”   For Saturday’s Poem, here is Lowell’s whimsical,

When I was a beggarly boy
And lived in a cellar damp,
I had not a friend nor a toy,
But I had Aladdin's lamp;
When I could not sleep for the cold,
I had fire enough in my brain,
And builded, with roofs of gold,
My beautiful castles in Spain!

Since then I have toiled day and night,
I have money and power good store,
But I'd give all my lamps of silver bright
For the one that is mine no more;
Take, Fortune, whatever you choose,
You gave, and may snatch again;
I have nothing 'twould pain me to lose,
For I own no more castles in Spain!

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