A Bit of Literary History on my Bookshelves

So this is kind of cool. I have been entering my books into Sente, a really fine bibliography software package if you’re on a Mac, and I came across these two books of poetry that I took from my grandmother’s library, Cups of Illusion and The Upward Pass, both by Henry Bellamann, best known for the novel King’s Row, which he published in 1940 and which was made into a movie in 1942. Anyway, what drew my attention was the fact that Bellamann inscribed the books of poetry to my grandmother, calling her his “dear little friend” in Cups of Illusion and “good friend” in The Upward Pass. My grandmother once hinted to me that there was a story from the time she was a girl about her and a writer–though she never actually told me the story; she tended to be very secretive about her past–and now, of course, I am wondering what that story might be. In 1928, the year Bellamann inscribed The Upward Pass, he also published Crescendo, about a man in love with two women. I somehow doubt that was the story my grandmother never told me, that she was one of the women in the novel, but it is fun to think about.

Not much else to say about this. Just that I think it’s kind of cool. Here is a poem from Cups of Illusion that I opened to at random:

August Gardens

Falling petals and dusty leaves
And drooping flower heads
Beneath unpitying skies
Unpromising of cloud or change–
Yet some faint life still moves
In your pale veins;
Some dumb, unknowing courage
Meets each day’s mocking sun.

How you keep faith with wind and rain!

I watch you in your silence,
Touch your curled tendrils,
While my eyes
Search Heaven for promise
Or for change.

Can you know in your dim nerves
The touch of one who waits like you
And still keeps faith with God
As you keep faith with wind and rain?

And here is one from The Upward Pass:

The Gulf Stream

They say a tropic river threads the seas
Bearing the strangest things to northern lands:
Vermilion fish, like flowers, with silver bands,
And bronze seaweed from scarlet coral keys.
Green birds that mock the moon from tall palm trees
Where ghost-gray monkeys hang by cunning hands,
Follow the thinning blue to northern sands,
And there among the black pines scream and freeze.

The while this ardent current chills and fades,
Splendors of ice drift slowly south, each one
A frozen torch of borealic fire,
Each one a spectral ship with rainbow sails,
Sinking and fading as it nears the sun
In this relentless river of desire.

Cross-posted on It’s All Connected.

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