September 2, 2013

Birth of Pollock: with wild delight

Edward Pollock was born in Philadelphia on September 2, 1823. As a boy, he was never educated formally and started working at age 11. By 14, he had run away from home to find better prospects; he ended up apprenticed to a sign-painter. By 1852, he was in California. He quickly earned respect in the young state and was popular among fellow gold prospectors. He studied law and eventually passed the bar in California.

Pollock also became a poet when, two years after his arrival on the west coast, a friend started a literary journal in need of contributions. The earliest of his published works was "The Falcon," a long poem of 64 stanzas. He wrote mostly poetry with an occasional short story or essay.

A posthumous collection of poems from 1876, though printed by J. B. Lippincott in Pollock's native Philadelphia, was dedicated and "respectfully inscribed" to his adopted state of California. From the collection, his poem "The Choice":

How beats the heart with wild delight
   When on the soul the spells arise
That gladly gush from wine so bright
   And fondly beam from starry eyes!
How melt the clouds of care away
   When sunned in beauty's roseate sheen!
And life how like a cloudless day
   If star-eyed pleasure reigns the queen!
Oh, then no magic so divine
As woman's love, and sparkling wine!

But, ah! the power of light gone by,
   The whirl of passion's tempest o'er,
The cares that clouded life's bleak sky
   Seem darker, heavier than before;
And faint and cold the spirit turns
   From cloud-built halls to earth again,
And the sad soul in darkness mourns
   Earth's weariness and toil and pain:
So pleasure's fairy-dreams depart,
And leave behind an aching heart.

Then let me shun the fading glow
   Of beauty's bright but meteor gleam,
And let my only light below
   Be reason, and religion's beam;
So shall my path, though storms sweep by,
   On warring winds by fury driven,
Be all beneath a cloudless sky,
   Till lost at last in light and heaven,
Where shines o'er blissful climes above
The sunlight of eternal love.

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