Music I Heard

Conrad Aiken
  • Conrad Aiken
  • Music I heard with you was more than music,
  • And bread I broke with you was more than bread;
  • Now that I am without you, all is desolate;
  • All that was once so beautiful is dead.
  • Your hands once touched this table and this silver,
  • And I have seen your fingers hold this glass.
  • These things do not remember you, beloved,
  • And yet your touch upon them will not pass.
  • For it was in my heart that you moved among them,
  • And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes;
  • And in my heart they will remember always,—
  • They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.

When Conrad Aiken was still a young boy his father killed his mother and then committed suicide. The boy was raised by a great-great-aunt in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard in 1912, and two years later his first collection of poetry,
Earth Triumphant, was published. He edited Emily Dickinson’s Selected Poems in 1924, bringing that unknown poet to the attention of the public and establishing her reputation as one of our towering poetic figures. Aiken was chosen as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress from 1950–’52, becoming, in effect, America’s Poet Laureate. He also won the Bollingen Prize and other major awards. Aiken died in Savannah in 1973.

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