“As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, forever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.”
― Ovid, Metamorphoses
Elder Olson (1909-1992), American poet, teacher and literary critic. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. He became a founder and leading figure of the “Chicago school” of literary criticism. In 1942, he started teaching at the University of Chicago as an assistant professor in the Department of English. In 1955 he was presented with the Poetry Society of America Chap-book Award. He gained full professorship in 1955 and was named Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of English in 1973. His poetry collections include Thing of Sorrow, Collected Poems, and Last Poems.
To read Elder Olson’s poem, “Pavan for the New Year” click
Pavane for the New Year
(from December, 1948)
by Elder Olson
Soul, plucking the many strings
Of my limbs like puppet’s, make them dance,
Dance, dance, in sombre joy,
That after all the sullen play
The old world falls, the new world forms.
A thought like music takes us now,
So like, that every soul must move,
Move in a most stately measure,
And souls and bodies tread in time
Till all the trembling towers fall down.
And now the stones arise again
Till all the world is built anew
And now in one accord like rhyme,
And we who wound the midnight clock
Hear the clock of morning chime.
“Pavane for the New Year” from Collected Poems, © 1962 by Elder Olson – University of Chicago Press
Image: detail from A Pavane, painted by Edwin Austin Abbey