Honoring National Poetry Month at the Rakow Research Library

What better way to honor National Poetry Month than to focus on the collection of glass-related poetry at the Rakow Research Library?  The Library has a modest group of poems about glass or glassmaking collected from various sources over the years, including direct submission by the poet.  It even has a poem written about the Museum!

A file full of poems at the Rakow Research Library

Poems about glass collected by the Rakow Research Library. (Photograph by The Corning Museum of Glass)

One example of a glass-related poem is by the esteemed Amy Lowell (1874-1925), an American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1926, a year after her death.  Her poem, “Fragment,” was first published in 1912, in a book of her poetry called A Dome of Many-Colored Glass.  In the piece, Lowell compares poetry to mosaics  (which are created by building a pattern or picture from raw materials – glass stones or fragments for mosaics and words for poems)  and to glass vessels (which are created, like poems, from hard work into objects of art and beauty).

Image of a mosaic glass tabletop, CMoG accession 97.3.10

Mosaic Glass Tabletop, about 1866. (97.3.10)

Fragment

What is poetry?  Is it a mosaic
Of coloured stones which curiously are wrought
Into a pattern?  Rather glass that’s taught
By patient labor any hue to take
And glowing with a sumptuous splendor, make
Beauty a thing of awe; where sunbeams caught,
Transmuted fall in sheafs of rainbows fraught
With storied meaning for religion’s sake.

Another noteworthy example of a glass-related poem was published in a 1713 book called Miscellany Poems on Several Occasions Written by a Lady.  The poem, called “Glass,” is by English noblewoman Anne Kingsmill Finch (1661-1720).  In this poem, she marvels at windows (which divide light and air, letting light into homes while blocking wind), mirrors (which provide reflections), and vessels such as wineglasses.

Image of a mirror, CMoG accessioin 98.3.18

Reverse Painted Mirror in Gilded Wood
Frame, about 1720-1730. (98.3.18)

Glass

O Man! what Inspiration was thy Guide,
Who taught thee Light and Air thus to divide;
To let in all the useful Beams of Day,
Yet force, as subtil Winds, without thy Shash to stay;
T’extract from Embers by a strange Device,
Then polish fair these Flakes of solid Ice;
Which, silver’d o’er, redouble all in place,
And give thee back thy well or ill-complexion’d Face.
To Vessels blown exceed the gloomy Bowl,
Which did the Wine’s full excellence controul,
These shew the Body, whilst you taste the Soul.
Its colour sparkles Motion, lets thee see,
Tho’ yet th’ Excess the Preacher warns to flee,
Lest Men at length as clearly spy through Thee.

Although by no means comprehensive, the Library’s collection of glass-related poetry contains a variety of poets, styles, and subjects, as well as a date range of over 200 years.  Check it out the next time you visit. The Library also welcomes you to submit a glass-related poem of your own, any time, to reference@cmog.org.

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  1. The Seraphim stands before the fires of hell 
    Blowing her trumpet, like a sea conch shell 
    Holding it in her out stretched arms 
    With all her grace and her charms 
    Her body glistening with pearls of sweat 
    The heat melting away, all the worlds fret 
    Gently blowing her creation to life 
    Caressing to form it; like the hands of a wife 
    The creation starts out, like a child 
    First small… meek… and then mild 
    The color, now she will blow 
    And her piece will begin to grow and grow 
    It’s more then the sands of this earth 
    With all the pain, sweat, and love… she gives it birth 
    With her Aura here before the glory 
    Each creation has it’s own story 
    And annealing now all through the night 
    She’ll awaken to a new delightRhonda Baker :

  2. http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/poems/http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/comments/http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/stats/http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/biography/http://members.poemhunter.com/members/club/profile.asp?member=5207441&show=MessageBoxPoems by http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/poems/ : 91 / 201http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/imagination-72/http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/january-is-cold/Inner Struggle Poem by Rhonda Baker
    Deep dark red and silver blue
    The color so dense you can’t see through
    Blowing and shaping to make it sleek
    A strong thick figure that isn’t weak
    Blowing and shaping an elegant piece
    Not knowing there in, lives a beast! 
    Another heat to work with the tools
    Not knowing this shape, you will soon lose
    The sides now begin to collapse
    And on its self it begins to wrap
    You try to RECAPTURE the way it use to be
    But it will have NONE of it! … It wants to be free
    Now all lumpy, and twisted inside and out
    Your heart sinks and begins to pout
    You finally surrender, to this work of art
    And quit working with your mind, but instead with your heart
    There’s something there, not a bowl or a vase
    But an emotion captured without a face
    You put the lip wrap on and reduce the color
    The piece you have now is like none other
    In the heart of the piece a thin thread resides
    A symbol of how our life abides
    (I am a glass blower, and this was one of the first pieces I ever worked on. At the Fireworks Glass Studios, in Williamston MI) 
    http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/poems/

  3. http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/poems/http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/comments/http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/stats/http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/biography/http://members.poemhunter.com/members/club/profile.asp?member=5207441&show=MessageBoxPoems by http://www.poemhunter.com/rhonda-baker/poems/ : 156 / 201http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/sweetest-day/http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/thanks-43/Taxi Cab yellow, Chartreuse, and Dark Blue Poem by Rhonda Baker
    TAXI CAB YELLOW, CHARTREUSE AND DARK BLUE
    You sit at the bench with your gather and pipe
    With all the anticipation of your creations new life
    In the garage all the color bits you have choose
    Praying this one goes smoothly, not like the other five woes
    Taxi cab yellow, chartreuse and dark blue
    Will the vision you have finally come true? 
    With a touch of a bit; you begin to spin
    Like the threads from a spider, caught in the wind
    Adding each bit one by one
    Working like a spider till your work is done
    Then into the glory to melt it all in
    A gather of clear, then blow it out thin
    Put in a neck; it’s still holding tight
    Jack and paddle the base, the kick ups just right
    NOW PUNTY IT UP! 
    and work on the neck, 
    Being patient so it doesn’t wreck
    Its all come together, all our hard work is done…
    We’ll put it in the window to bring joy to someone

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