Poets of Cambridge, U.S.A.
Other Poets
Henry Adams
John Quincy Adams
James Agee
Conrad Aiken
Bronson Alcott
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
William Alfred
Washington Allston
Katherine Lee Bates
Elizabeth Bishop
Anne Bradstreet
John Malcom Brinnin
Witter Bynner
William Ellery Channing II
John Ciardi
Robert Creeley
Countee Cullen
E.E. Cummings
John Dos Passos
W.E.B Dubois
Richard Eberhart
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Robert Fitzgerald
Robert Frost
Angelina Weld Grimke
Robert Hillyer
John Holmes
O.W. Holmes
Julia Ward Howe
Sarah Orne Jewett
X. J. Kennedy
Maxine Kumin
Stanley Kunitz
H.W. Longfellow
Amy Lowell
Robert Lowell
Archibald Macleish
Herman Melville
Howard Nemerov
Urian Oakes
Charles Olson
John Reed
George Santayana
May Sarton
Delmore Schwartz
Alan Seeger
Anne Sexton
L.E. Sissman
Wallace Stevens
Edward Taylor
Henry David Thoreau
Frederick Tuckerman
John Updike
Jones Very

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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.
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