Madison Julius Cawein
Biography of Madison Julius Cawein
Madison Cawein (23 March 1865 – 8 December 1914) was a poet from Louisville, Kentucky, whose poem "Waste Land" has been linked with T. S. Eliot's later The Waste Land.
Cawein's father made patent medicines from herbs. Cawein thus became acquainted with and developed a love for local nature as a child. He worked in a Cincinnati pool hall as an assistant cashier for six years, saving his pay so he could return home to write. His output was thirty-six books and 1,500 poems. He was known as the "Keats of Kentucky."
In 1912 Cawein was forced to sell his Old Louisville home, St James Court (a two-and-a-half story brick house built in 1901, which he had purchased in 1907), as well as some of his library, after losing money in the 1912 stock market crash. In 1914 the Authors Club of New York City placed him on their relief list. He died later that year and was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.
The link between his work and Eliot's was pointed out by Canadian academic Robert Ian Scott in The Times Literary Supplement in 1995. The following year Bevis Hillier drew more comparisons in The Spectator (London) with other poems by Cawein; he compared Cawein's lines "...come and go/Around its ancient portico" with Eliot's "...come and go/talking of Michelangelo."
Cawein's "Waste Land" appeared in the January 1913 issue of Chicago magazine Poetry (which also contained an article by Ezra Pound on London poets).
Cawein's poetry allied his love of nature with a devotion to earlier English and European literature, mythology, and classical allusion. This certainly encompassed much of T. S. Eliot's own interest, but whereas Eliot was also seeking a modern language and form, Cawein strove to maintain a traditional approach. Although he gained an international reputation, he has been eclipsed as the genre of poetry in which he worked became increasingly outmoded.
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Madison Julius Cawein Poems
A Yellow Rose
The old gate clicks, and down the walk, Between clove-pink and hollyhock, Still young of face though gray of lock, Among her garden's flowers she goes At evening's close, Deep in her hair a yellow rose.
Can Such Things Be?
Meseemed that while she played, while lightly yet Her fingers fell, as roses bloom by bloom, I listened dead within a mighty room Of some old palace where great casements let
A Voice On The Wind
I She walks with the wind on the windy height When the rocks are loud and the waves are white,
Days And Days
The days that clothed white limbs with heat, And rocked the red rose on their breast, Have passed with amber-sandaled feet
A Broken Rainbow On The Skies Of May
A Broken rainbow on the skies of May, Touching the dripping roses and low clouds, And in wet clouds its scattered glories lost: So in the sorrow of her soul the ghost
A Woodland Grave
White moons may come, white moons may go- She sleeps where early blossoms blow; Knows nothing of the leafy June,
A Wild Iris
That day we wandered 'mid the hills,—so lone Clouds are not lonelier,—the forest lay In emerald darkness 'round us. Many a stone And gnarly root, gray-mossed, made wild our way:
The Call Of April
April calling, April calling, April calling me! I hear the voice of April there In each old apple tree: Bee-boom and wild perfume,
A Wet Day
Dark, drear, and drizzly, with vapor grizzly, The day goes dully unto its close; Its wet robe smutches each thing it touches, Its fingers sully and wreck the rose.
The Road Home
Over the hills, as the pewee flies, Under the blue of the Southern skies; Over the hills, where the red-bird wings Like a scarlet blossom, or sits and sings:
The Death Of Love
So Love is dead, the Love we knew of old! And in the sorrow of our hearts' hushed halls A lute lies broken and a flower falls;
The Iron Age
And these are Christians! God! the horror of it! How long, O Lord! how long, O Lord! how long Wilt Thou endure this crime? and there, above it, Look down on Earth nor sweep away the wrong!
The Wood Thrush
Bird, with the voice of gold, Dropping wild bar on bar, To which the flowers unfold, Star upon gleaming star, Here in the forest old:
Briar and fennel and chinquapin, And rue and ragweed everywhere; The field seemed sick as a soul with sin, Or dead of an old despair, Born of an ancient care.
A Last Word
OH, for some cup of consummating might,
Filled with life's kind conclusion, lost in night!
A wine of darkness, that with death shall cure
This sickness called existence! —Oh to find
Surcease of sorrow! quiet for the mind,
An end of thought in something dark and sure!
Mandrake and hellebore, or poison pure! —
Some drug of death, wherein there are no dreams! —
No more, no more, with patience, to endure