Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Word's The Thing

Poetry and spring are a perfect pair.

Last night, although the night was brisk, the poetry was warm and beautiful at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. In a benefit for the Academy of American Poets, ten of my favorite artists read poems that they had selected before a modest early evening audience of, perhaps, 700.

Meryl Streep read Elizabeth Bishop's "Fish" with gorgeous style and passion, Alan Alda Wynton Marsalis read--and sang-- Langston Hughes poems. Diane Wiest ( Hanna and Her Sisters )chose sections of T.S. Eliot's "Quartets", and Wendy Whelan
( New York City Ballet prima ballerina ) read Walt Whitman's "To One Shortly to Die" which she dedicated to her friend who died this winter as she was sitting at his side. Alan Alda read my much beloved Emily Dickinson.

Then Mike Wallace got up. He introduced his selection, his smokey voice filled with emotion. " We all remember the blustery morning in January when an aging Robert Frost read this poem to the new President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy." By the time he reached the second stanza, tears welled up in my eyes. And the final line was as fresh as when I first heard it all those years ago.

" I took the road less traveled. And it has made all the difference."

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