a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » Cambridge & Harvard » Conrad Aiken (1899-1973)

Conrad Aiken (1899-1973)

Conrad Aiken

Conrad Aiken

Conrad Aiken’s early years in Savannah, Georgia, were full of fear based on beatings by his father, a physician who became so paranoid that he shot his wife and then himself to death. Conrad, their twelve year-old son, heard the shots and discovered their bodies.

His uncle, a Harvard librarian, cared for him when he went to school in Concord, where he edited the school magazine and then attended Harvard College, where he and T.S. Eliot began a lifelong friendship. Aiken was so shy that he left college early rather than accept the honor of being the Class Poet.

His life was devoted to writing and living on a small inheritance in the United Kingdom and the United States. Along with his legacy of poetry, prose, and fiction, he wrote a fictionalized autobiography, Ushant. Sigmund Freud spoke of his Great Circle as a masterpiece of analytical interpretation. Among his many honors were a National Medal for Literature and a National Book Award. All three children of his marriage in 1812 to Jessie MacDonald, a Canadian, became writers.

The selection chosen for inclusion here is Part One of his poem “Discordants.”

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 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.

Click here to view supplemental reading to Conrad Aiken on Amazon.

Series Navigation<< James Agee (1909-1955)A. Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) >>
Tagged with:
Categories: Cambridge & Harvard, Poetry, Prayers & Visual Arts

Notable in UU History
Charles William Wendte

Charles William Wendte (1844-1931)

An important figure in the international organization of liberal religion. Wendte was born on June 11, ... Read More
Rowena Morse Mann

Rowena Morse Mann: First Woman Doctor of Philosophy, 1870-1958

By Catherine F. Hitchings What follows is an edited collation of biographical articles appearing in the ... Read More
John Caldwell Holt

John Caldwell Holt

John Caldwell Holt was an American author and educator, one of the best-known proponents of homeschooling, ... Read More
Edward Taylor

Edward Taylor (c.1642-1729)

Born in the son of a farmer in England around 1642, the poet crossed the Atlantic ... Read More