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About this poet

Born in Dublin on December 12, 1873, Lola Ridge grew up in mining towns in New Zealand and Australia. When she was thirty-four years old, she immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in New York City.

Ridge first received critical attention in 1918 when her long poem "The Ghetto" was published in The New Republic. Later that year, Ridge published her first book, The Ghetto and Other Poems. The collection focused on the Lower East side tenements where Ridge was living, specifically the lives of Jewish immigrants. Her subsequent collections were Sun-Up and Other Poems (1920); Red Flag (1927), a book of political poetry; Firehead (1929) and Dance of Fire (1935).

Ridge was employed as a factory worker and was politically active, often writing about race, class, and gender issues, especially in her early work. She was an advocate for women's rights, gay rights, and the rights of immigrants. In 1927, she was arrested while protesting the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, anarchists and Italian immigrants who were convicted, through a controversial trial, of murdering two men during an armed robbery in Massachusetts.

The critical success of her early work led to editorships at avant-garde journals Other (where she worked alongside poets William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore), and Broom. Her awards included a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935 and the Shelley Memorial Award in 1936. She died in New York at the age of sixty-seven on May 19, 1941.

Mother

Your love was like moonlight
turning harsh things to beauty,
so that little wry souls
reflecting each other obliquely
as in cracked mirrors . . .
beheld in your luminous spirit
their own reflection,
transfigured as in a shining stream,
and loved you for what they are not.

You are less an image in my mind
than a luster
I see you in gleams
pale as star-light on a gray wall . . .
evanescent as the reflection of a white swan
shimmering in broken water.

This poem is in the public domain. It poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 12, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.  

This poem is in the public domain. It poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 12, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.  

Lola Ridge

Lola Ridge

Born in Dublin on December 12, 1873, Lola Ridge grew up in mining towns in New Zealand and Australia. When she was thirty-four years old, she immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in New York City.

by this poet

poem

The woman with jewels sits in the cafe,
Spraying light like a fountain.
Diamonds glitter on her bulbous fingers
And on her arms, great as thighs,
Diamonds gush from her ear-lobes over the goitrous throat.
She is obesely beautiful.
Her eyes are full of bleared lights,
Like little

poem

Bountiful Givers,
I look along the years
And see the flowers you threw…
Anemones
And sprigs of gray
Sparse heather of the rocks,
Or a wild violet
Or daisy of a daisied field…
But each your best.

I might have worn them on my breast
To wilt in the long day…
I

poem

Do you remember
Honey-melon moon
Dripping thick sweet light
Where Canal Street saunters off by herself among quiet trees?
And the faint decayed patchouli—
Fragrance of New Orleans
Like a dead tube rose
Upheld in the warm air…
Miraculously whole.