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(4 stars; 1 reviews)

George Santayana was born in Spain, educated in Boston and taught at Harvard before returning to Europe to spend the last forty years of his life writing. He is primarily known as a philosopher, his five-volume The Life of Reason being his magnus opus. But he also wrote a successful novel, The Last Puritan, as well as plays, essays and poetry. During his time at Harvard he influenced many of his student including T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost.

Of these poems which he chose to collect together in this volume he says, "What I felt when I composed those verses could not have been rendered in any other form. Their sincerity is absolute, not only in respect to the thought which might be abstracted from them and expressed in prose, but also in respect to the aura of literary and religious associations which envelops them. . . . In one sense I think that my verses, mental and thin as their texture may be, represent a true inspiration, a true docility. . . . For as to the subject of these poems, it is simply my philosophy in the making." (From the Preface)

The collection consists of fifty sonnets, a few odes an a selection of miscellaneous poems. The volume concludes with as essay about Santayana by poet and literary critic Edmund Gosse who says of Santayana's poetry, "Only in solitude can soliloquies be appreciated, and Mr. Santayana is not an author for loud streets..." Summary by Larry Wilson (2 hr 39 min)


Preface 10:44 Read by Larry Wilson
Sonnets 1883 -1893 1-5 4:51 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 6-10 4:50 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 11-15 4:44 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 16-20 4:54 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 1895 and after 21-25 5:05 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 26-30 5:10 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 31-35 4:54 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 36-40 4:55 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 41-45 4:55 Read by Algy Pug
Sonnets 46-50 4:54 Read by Algy Pug
Miscellaneous Sonnets (1-3) 3:23 Read by Algy Pug
Miscellaneous Sonnets - to W.P. 4:09 Read by Algy Pug
Miscellaneous Sonnets - Before a Statue of Achilles, The Rustic at the Play 4:09 Read by Algy Pug
Odes 1-2 3:20 Read by Sharon Handy
Ode 3 3:31 Read by Sharon Handy
Odes 4-5 3:25 Read by Sharon Handy
Athletic Ode 6:31 Read by kehayman
Cape Cod 2:15 Read by Guest
A Toast 1:36 Read by SkyAlbatross
Premonition 1:58 Read by SkyAlbatross
Solipsism 1:44 Read by SkyAlbatross
Sybaris 4:19 Read by monkeywraith
Avila 4:32 Read by Freya Hansen
Kings College Chapel 8:21 Read by kehayman
On an Unfinished Statue by Michael Angelo in the Bargello, called an Apollo or … 4:17 Read by monkeywraith
Midnight 1:43 Read by SkyAlbatross
In Grantchester Meadows On First Hearing a Skylark Sing 1:59 Read by monkeywraith
Spain in America 19:00 Read by Kane Mercer
A Minuet on Reaching the Age of Fifty 3:33 Read by Larry Wilson
Translations: From Michael Angelo 2:59 Read by Algy Pug
Translations: From Theophile Gautier 2:22 Read by Algy Pug
A Spaniard in England - an essay by Edmund Gosse 10:35 Read by Larry Wilson



(4 stars)

Text of the poem Avila follows: AVILA Again my feet are on the fragrant moor Amid the purple uplands of Castile, Realm proudly desolate and nobly poor, Scorched by the sky's inexorable zeal. Wide desert where a diadem of towers Above Adaja hems a silent town, And locks, unmindful of the mocking hours, Her twenty temples in a granite crown. The shafts of fervid light are in the sky, And in my heart the mysteries of yore. Here the sad trophies of my spirit lie: These dead fulfilled my destiny before. Like huge primeval stones that strew this plain, Their nameless sorrows sink upon my breast, And like this ardent sky their cancelled pain Smiles at my grief and quiets my unrest. For here hath mortal life from age to age Endured the silent hand that makes and mars, And, sighing, taken up its heritage Beneath the smiling and inhuman stars. Still o'er this town the crested castle stands, A nest for storks, as once for haughty souls, Still from the abbey, where the vale expands, The curfew for the long departed tolls, Wafting some ghostly blessing to the heart From prayer of nun or silent Capuchin, To heal with balm of Golgotha the smart Of weary labour and distracted sin. What fate has cast me on a tide of time Careless of joy and covetous of gold, What force compelled to weave the pensive rhyme When loves are mean, and faith and honour old, When riches crown in vain men's sordid lives, And learning chokes a mind of base degree? What winged spirit rises from their hives? What heart, revolting, ventures to be free? Their pride will sink and more ignobly fade Without memorial of its hectic fire. What altars shall survive them, where they prayed? What lovely deities? What riven lyre? Tarry not, pilgrim, but with inward gaze Pass daily, musing, where their prisons are, And o'er the ocean of their babble raise Thy voice in greeting to thy changeless star. Abroad a tumult, and a ruin here; Nor world nor desert hath a home for thee. Out of the sorrows of the barren year Build thou thy dwelling in eternity. Let patience, faith's wise sister, be thy heaven, And with high thoughts necessity alloy. Love is enough, and love is ever given, While fleeting days bring gift of fleeting joy. The little pleasures that to catch the sun Bubble a moment up from being's deep, The glittering sands of passion as they run, The merry laughter and the happy sleep,— These are the gems that, like the stars on fire, Encrust with glory all our heaven's zones; Each shining atom, in itself entire, Brightens the galaxy of sister stones, Dust of a world that crumbled when God's dream To throbbing pulses broke the life of things, And mingled with the void the scattered gleam Of many orbs that move in many rings, Perchance at last into the parent sun To fall again and reunite their rays, When God awakes and gathers into one The light of all his loves and all his days.