Here is another poem by John Hall Wheelock, that caught my fancy — this time from the other end of life!  I don’t know much about his life at all, but this would have happened (I’m thinking it reflects something that happened, but I could be wrong) when he was young.  It makes me think of the Dylan Thomas poem that starts:

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever...

Anyway, here’s Wheelock’s poem:

Aphrodite, 1906

Dark-eyed, out of the snow-cold sea you came,
The young blood under the cheek like dawn-light showing,
Stray tendrils of dark hair in the sea-wind blowing,
Comely and grave, out of the sea you came.

Slim covered thigh and slender stockinged foot
In swift strides over the burnished shingle swinging,
Sweet silence of your smile, soft sea-weed clinging,
Here and there, to the wet bathing-suit.

O fierce and shy, your glance so piercing-true
Shot fire to the struck heart that was as tinder–
The fire of your still loveliness, the tender
High fortitude of the spirit shining through.

And the world was young. O love and song and fame
Were part of youth’s still ever believed-in story,
And hope crowned all, when in dear and in queenly glory,
Out of the snow-cold sea to me you came.

–copyright (c) John Hall Wheelock, 1973 –included in
This Blessed Earth, New and Selected Poems,1927-1977, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons

It also makes me think of the Spencer Tracey character in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” where his future son in law’s mother asks him if he’s forgotten what it felt like to be in love.  And he surely remembers!

Anyway, I have no idea if he was married.  If I remember correctly, he was born not too long before 1900 and lived a bit past 1950.  Don’t quote me on either of those dates (rough as they are).  I imagine this as his memory, still clear later in life, of when he met someone as a young man who remained important to him (say, perhaps, his wife to be?).  It makes most sense to me that way.  Though I do recognize that it could be pure poetic imagination.

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