Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Double-Breasted Suit

 I promised my brother, David, I would post this photo. He is the lad on the right.
He is about to leave now for an LDS Service Mission to the Philippines, and
might have to miss my blog which he claims to be too busy to read in any case.
This picture was cropped from one of those Brownie Reflex square black-and-whites.

Mostly my Dad wore single-breasted suits, I don't remember this one. But Wikipedia
says that double-breasted suits were in fashion in the Forties and Fifties, helped to that
position by the discomfort of the new baggier waistcoat/vest that rode up when one
sat down. These boys were born in 1944 (David) and 1945 (Robert, left) which
is just about at the height of this suit's popularity. Notice that David has a double-breasted
coat, while Robert's is single-breasted. Again, these coats were likely made by my mother
from mill ends from a Vermont textile outlet. I think they might be camel-colored.
The caps are a nice touch. . .

Robert, at right, is the only one of my siblings that is no longer living. 
We all miss him terribly; he had such a sweet spirit and understanding heart.
I think my Dad really loved having these boys and the two older sons;
I remember he usually asked math and geography questions of them
at the dinner table. He worked all his life for General Electric, 
and thought it was the finest company ever created. 
I have always been proud to be his daughter.


The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
                        Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

   Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

   Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.

                                                   The soul shrinks

   From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
And cries,
                “Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

   Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

   “Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
                         keeping their difficult balance.”

Richard Wilbur          (1921--

The Voice That Is Great Within Us; 
American Poetry of the Twentieth Century
edited by Hayden Carruth, Bantam, 1970, pages 484-485.

"Their difficult balance" isn't that just beautiful??
Richard Wilbur is an excellent poet, who has received many awards for his work. Read this poem out loud for the beauty of the language. And notice the subtle shifts of the arrangement of the lines on the page.

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