Monday, March 9, 2009

Frederick Childe Hassam Renamed by Poet Celia Thaxter

Childe Hassam was invited to Celia Thaxter's artist colony in 1890. Thaxter was a poet of some means who had travelled to Europe and enjoyed the company of artists. At some point Thaxter discovered that her new friend Hassam's middle name was Childe. She suggested that he drop his first name Frederick since Childe seemed much more like that of an artist. So Childe it was from that point on. The video below shows some of his many paintings. Enjoy them as well as the opening photograph from New York taken in June 2008. It could have been of Childe Hassam's block in New York's East Village some warm summer evening.

Some of you may remember Celia Thaxter for her poems surrounding her garden and birds, including the now famous Sandpiper. General A. W. Greely, on the other hand, remembered another more somber poem that he and his crew read and reread while abandoned in the arctic for two years. The woman who renamed Hassam could fire up the imagination. Here in part is the telling poem about the sinking of a ship.

A Tryst 
By Celia Thaxter (1896)

From out the desolation of the North
An iceberg took it away,
From its detaining comrades breaking forth,
And traveling night and day.

At whose command? Who bade it sail the deep
With that resistless force?
Who made the dread appointment it must keep?
Who traced its awful course?
Scarcely her crew had time to clutch despair.
So swift the work was done:
Ere their pale lips could frame a speechless prayer,
They perished, every one!

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