On this day, December 14, 1957 — 60 years ago — a mixed-up young man and a lovely young woman got married in a small community church in Mountain Lakes, NJ. Still sporting his close-cropped Army haircut, he planned to sell metal parts with his father; she, also with short hair but in her white gown elegant as a swan, would work in fashion design in New York City. Alas, their plans for the future never worked out.
You’ve guessed who these unfortunates were. Jeanne and I turned this way and that, got lost, and then said the hell with these plans, packed our pens and typewriter and two brave youngsters (two more to follow shortly), and headed into the unknown, our parents supportive but shaking their heads. Poetry? Art?
“In Gentler Times” won the 1965 Olivet National Sonnet Prize, judged by W. D. Snodgrass, our first prize money, which we immediately spent on art.
In Gentler Times
In gentler times if times were ever gentle
you’d blossom in a peasant blouse and dirndl
to linger by a stream below a windmill
while I would weave upon my poet’s spindle
bright cloth for your white shoulders a gold mantle
of shining praise to cover love’s old temple:
but now my love we know no such example
of hopeful days if hope were ever ample
Today hope stutters like a guttering candle
the dark too dark for love alone to handle
Godot because unknown is worse than Grendel
and love uncertain seems a certain swindle
And yet my love our love’s as quick to kindle
as simpler loves if love were ever simple