Sarah’s Gift

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmadi

My sister, Sarah, and I receive the same “Poem-A-Day e-mail, which is a great way to start to a new day. On New Year’s Eve, I received a text from Sarah alerting me to a poem that had come to her inbox.

The poem had arrived a few days before Sarah’s text. With our recent snowfall, I had marked it as a poem that I would recite on a nature walk. What I did not anticipate, and was beyond thrilled to receive, was Sarah’s recitation of Velvet Shoes by Elinor Wylie.

Sarah lives in North Vancouver, close to the pristine forest trails of Grouse Grind and Mount Seymour Trail. I know you will enjoy her video which features the tall trees with a fresh covering of snow on their branches.

For Rebecca, May we have many oppoturnities to wear velvet shoes.

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmadi

Elinor Wylie was born into a well-connected family. She was trained to take her place as a society wife, but she chose a more complex and difficult path. Velvet Shoes is Elinor Wylie’s most widely anthologized poem. Her biography is available on The Poetry Foundation.

Sarah and I invite you to walk along a winter path and join in the recitation of Velvet Shoes.

Photo Credit Sarah Ahmadi
Velvet Shoes

Elinor Wylie

Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as white cow's milk,
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
Upon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.
Photo Credit Sarah Ahmadi

83 Thoughts

    1. I am delighted that you listened in on Sarah’s recitation. This was her first recitation and I was thrilled that she chose Velvet Shoes. Elinor Wylie was a remarkable women. She was born into privilege and could have chosen an easygoing life provided by that elevated society. Instead, she chose a much more difficult pathway accompanied with scandal. But it was this path that influenced her poetry. I read that many of her works offered insight into the difficulties of marriage and the impossible expectations that come with womanhood. I am now looking into the poetry of her aunt, Helen Hoyt. I continue to learn and learn and learn…. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 4 people

    1. I knew that you would enjoy this recitation, Jean-Jacques. My hope is that more and more people will recite poetry as a way of reflection and meditation. Many thanks, my dear friend, for reciting your poetry. I love hearing your voice say the words.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. There are so many poets that I have never heard of, Liz. I continue to learn and learn and learn. I was beyond thrilled that Sarah sent me this gift. Did you read Leo Tolstoy’s wisdom for January 9? “Read less, study less, think more. Take from teachers and from books only those things you need and want to know.” Leo Tolstoy. That has given me something to think about all week.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Shey – you would love meeting up with Sarah. I remember the time many many years ago, that my uncle sent us 500 Harlequin Romance novels, much to my father’s chagrin. Sarah reads much faster than I can so for every 3 romances I managed to finish one. My father loved all books, so he made certain that these 500 books found a place in our library. I am delighted you enjoyed the poem and Sarah’s recitation. This was my first experience with Elinor Wylie. What a fascinating woman. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Did I ever tell you about the time Romance saved Dalhousie University. In the early years, when Dalhousie’s finances were in jeopardy, George Munro saved the day with Romance books (he was a publisher of romance books). Dalhousie university celebrates him every February. The power of romance cannot be underestimated!

        Liked by 3 people

  1. A beautiful poem with a magnificent recording from the trees under white snow (which makes me jealous!)
    Thank you both, Sarah and Rebecca.
    PS: Sarah’s surname made me curious. Ahmadi can be a Persian name. 😉🤗🙏💖

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed Sarah’s recitation. Hearing someone’s voice is a gift. One of the reasons I started the TTT podcast was to record my mother, Frances’s voice and memories. P.S. It is indeed a Persian name and Sarah’s married name.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Yes — I married a wonderful Persian man 32 years ago. He is an amazing, supportive partner who celebrates my eccentricities and passions.

      Thank you, so much, for your appreciation — doing this little project took me completely out of my comfort zone — my sister has a tendency to challenge me to be explore new and creative things. When I read this poem and looked outside my bedroom window, I was inspired to acknowledge how very much Rebecca’s encouragement means to me!

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much for your heartwarming comments, Deborah. This was the first time I had heard of Elinor Wylie, too. She was born into privilege and yet chose a much more difficult path. I read that she was known for her chaotic and tumultuous personal life which influenced her poetry. Her aunt, Helen Hoyt was also a poet so now I’m learning more about her. Poetry is like following Alice down the rabbit hole. YIKES!! Here is one of Helen Hoyt’s short poems about waking up a child.

      “A Song to Wake Your Dear in the Morning

      I kiss the locks of your hair:
      Do you feel me there,
      Sleepy one?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks, Klausbernd. This was the first time that I heard about Elinor Wylie. I read that she was a celebrated author in her lifetime, with a cult following in her pinnacle years. She was lauded for her passionate writing, fueled by ethereal descriptors, historical references, and feminist undertones. Her achievement was amazing given her writing period was only a short span of 8 years Sending many hugs and love to my dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are absolutely right, Klausbernd. When we lived in Edmonton, we were very familiar driving in snow and snowy conditions. Vancouver has so little snow that drivers have to learn very quickly, indeed. Snow comes for 1 -3 days and then disappears. Drivers also learn that all weather tires are not the same as winter tires. Sending hugs and love to our dear friends, The Fab Four of Cley!

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Dave! I was thrilled that Sarah took the plunge and recited a poem. Perfect timing with the snow. Alas, the rain has come and the snow is disappearing in our neighbourhood. Sarah lives at a higher level so her snow will stay longer on her side than our side. I am fascinated by Elinor Wylie. This is the first time that I had heard about her. My hope is that I encourage others to use their voice to share their poetry, stories. Voice is a wonderful gift to receive.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I had never heard of Elinor Wylie before and yet, she was very popular in the 1920’s. Even Edna St. Vincent Millay praised her work. She was certainly an outlier! Many thanks for your lovely comments, Liz.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Thank you, Liz. I’m in the process of reading May Sarton’s “Journal of a Solitude.” In it she states that “poetry is more a true work of the soul that prose … perhaps it is that prose is earned and that poetry is given.” I’m beginning to unpack that thought.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You’re welcome, Sarah. I’m not sure whether I would agree with that thought or not. You might be interested in Sarton’s novel Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, which touches on the theme of poetric inspiration. (I read it a long time ago and just pulled it off the shelf.)

        Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you, Rebecca and Sarah for this precious poem. Very well chosen words from this gifted poet., I listened to the recitation several times, loved it ! ! Thank you for including the beautiful write scenery. This recording and the really beautiful scenery to go with it, is a real treat. Thank you, so much, to the two of you, very gifted sisters! !

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I knew that you would enjoy this recitation, Frances. I am thrilled that Sarah is sharing poetry through recitation. When I phoned to thank her, she agreed that when she recited poetry out loud, the words came alive. And with the snowfall, it was a perfect time to bring video and voice together!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed Sarah’s video. She lives in North Vancouver in an area that is close to the forests and Grouse Mountain. If you look at the precipitation levels, North Vancouver receives almost double the amount of rain/snow than Vancouver. I always take an umbrella when I cross the narrows to North Van. By the way, this is the first time that I heard about Elinor Wylie! I continue to learn!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks Mary Jo for your lovely comments. I agree, there are many gifts that surround us that give meaning to our lives. The gift of friendship has been invaluable over the past months. As Frances noted in our telephone discussion last night – technology has allowed us to connect over the miles and see each other. She remembers when the first telephone was installed in their farming community. It was as if a miracle had occurred. Many thanks for listening in – sending hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed Sarah’s recitation. It is a beautiful poem isn’t it? I had marked it out to recite, but when Sarah sent me her rendition, I knew that she had captured the spirit and emotional nuance of the message. Elinor Wylie has many other poems to recite! Velvet Shoes belongs to Sarah.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s simply beautiful, Rebecca, both words and images. Thank you for sharing it. The more prosaic part of me is rubbing my sodden chilblains as I dry my feet after walking in those now ruined velvet shoes!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Many thanks, Margaret. I laughed out loud when I read your thoughts on chilblains and ruined velvet shoes. I remember a couple of decades before with I decided to buy books with a 2 inch heel. One walk in the snow with those boots was enough for me. Back to my trusty winter boots.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Le sniffle.
    This is a beautiful recitation, and the images propel it to beyond heartfelt.
    Thank you Sarah! Thank you, Rebecca!

    Ps: Rebecca, I watched the Red Crowned Crane video you sent me. I’m sad and heartened all at once.
    What a spectacular creature. I’m so happy they are still here.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for listening in, Resa! Poetry is a wonderful way to begin the day. I knew that you would enjoy the Red Crowned Crane video. I was amazed that a small community of farmers changed the world! It is a testament that every act of kindness and compassion has immeasurable power. Sending many hugs along with my thanks!!

      Liked by 2 people

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