6.27.2009

It's quite a feat, even for a poet, to remember her first sight of the stars after nearly 70 years. This is from Lola Ridge's diary for 1940, quoted in ''The First Wave: Women Poets in America 1915-1945,'' by William Drake (Collier/Macmillan).

I remember clearly my first sight of the stars - or at least the first time I noticed them. In my mother's arms - she had been walking the floor with me, I screaming in one of my rages. . . . Mama stepped out on the balcony overlooking the gardens. I suppose she was distraught with the small ungovernable thing in her arms. I think I remember the feeling that she was controlling her own exasperation enduring me (thus for the moment alien; no longer the one comforting certainty in my bewildered mind) and that this goaded me to a further rage. Anyway, as I strove in her face upturned to the sky, I caught sight of the stars. It was a clear night. Those still points of light. All the anger died in me. I lay looking up at them, feeling a sweet peace that was somehow more than peace, a relief and a gladness. All was very well. No doubt my mother shared this relief. . . . I believe rage is simply the frenetic desire for equilibrium, or for the restoration of a disrupted harmony. An Odorless Childhood

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