Monday, February 16, 2009

W.H. Auden and Thomas Wolfe In Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights is one of New York’s best preserved and most attractive nineteenth–century historic districts. Those interested in literature may wish to peek at two buildings on Montague Terrace, which is a small side street just before the Promenade, at the end of Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. Plaques on two buildings commemorate famous writers who once lived in them: W.H. Auden and Thomas Wolfe.

Esteemed 20th century poet W.H. Auden (1907-1973) lived at One Montague Terrace in Brooklyn Heights for a brief time circa 1939-1940.

He wrote his long philosophical poem "New Year Letter" at this address.

"And love illuminates again
The city and the lion's den
The world's great rage, the travel of young men."
~ W. H. Auden from the poem "New Year Letter"

"A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language."

~ W. H. Auden from the poem Squares and Oblongs

An unusual window box motif of praying angels outside One Montague Terrace.

American author Thomas Wolfe lived in Brooklyn Heights from 1931 to 1939 and at 5 Montague Terrace from 1933 - 1939 where he wrote the novel " Of Time And The River."

"Great God the only bridge, the bridge of power, life, and joy, the bridge that was a span, a cry, an ecstasy --that was America."
~ Thomas Wolfe

This is the entrance to the building Wolfe lived in.

A panoramic view of the Montague terrace buildings.
"At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, an image of unutterable conviction, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being — the reward he seeks — the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, to make his life prevail through his creation, to wreak the vision of his life, the rude and painful substance of his own experience, into the congruence of blazing and enchanted images that are themselves the core of life, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed, the kernel of eternity. " ~ Thomas Wolfe from the novel "Of Time And The River."

Reading the passage above convinced me that is why we keep a blog -- for the reward of recording life -- a kernel of eternity.


aliceinparis said...

Love that window box!!!

Anonymous said...

The entrance of the uilding is just majestic! Thanks for another walk in NYC!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tour :)

Vee said...

Love W.H. Auden! Thomas Wolfe writes in lofty ways, doesn't he? ;> There's something to what you say about blogging, but I do not imagine that my attempts are anywhere near those of Auden's or Wolfe's. Thanks for another tour of your beloved City!

Kathy said...

Just lovely! Thanks!

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!

Oh what a gorgeous piece of architecture! The angels are beautiful. Thanks for showing us yet another great place in NY!

Hugs, Sherry

steviewren said...

Pat, I so agree with you about the Wolfe quote... "the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic,"...

That idea of art or words ensnaring us in "nets of magic" is a bit of verbal sorcery in itself and captures the essence of what creative people hope to achieve.

Living on a street as beautiful as Montague Street would be inspiring to anyone.

Barb said...

Hi Pat,

Thank you for your words of support. I went to publish your comment though, and I must have hit the wrong button. I don't like holding comments but I've received some really mean ones and I don't want the girls to see them.

I can relate to your brother and Sil, It is unbelievably difficult. I will be praying for them as well.
My mil is in hospice in Co. so we have been hit by all directions. I will keep on praising till the end.

I've missed visiting your blog (I've missed visiting everyone's blog too).

Thank you so much Pat. I'm sorry I lost your comment.


JudyBug said...

Beautiful post! The architecture is so different from my part of the country. I would love to visit one day. That entry is just to die for.

Rue said...

Good morning Pat :)

The city full of secrets is what NY should be called. I love your tours and this one is so interesting. Beautiful words and architecture :)

Gorgeous roses from your sweet hubby!


Junie Moon said...

I love the Wolfe quote and what you said about blogging. It's quite true.

Every time we plan a visit to a new place in the world, one of my favorite things to research is their literary tradition. If there's a site to be found related to an author or piece of literature, I try quite hard to personally visit it.

Great post, Pat!

Willow said...

Yes, I like the idea 'kernel of eternity'!

Melissa Miller said...

~Gorgeous area! ;)

Little Leo is sooo precious!

nonizamboni said...

Really enjoyed the tour. And the quotes but loved the angel sill! Thanks for sharing your city.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, this is absolutely gorgeous... that first door and those angels! Be still my beating magpie heart! I'm going to come back later and spend time really carefully reading this. I'm so sleepy right now all I can think of is lying down and taking a short nap. Ever feel like that? And after I do, I will want to read and absorb this neat post. Those are two of my favorite writers.


Sheila :-)

Tara said...

Isn't Brooklyn just a wonder...and we always think it's just Manhattan!

Kathy said...

Incredible Pat, It is not surprising that so many talented and artistic people make a home in NY. Happy Presidents Day, hugs, Kathy.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

You never disappoint me with your architectural choices. I believe that you are right about why we blog. It is a wonderful opportunity for self-expression.
♥, Susan

Arlene Delloro said...

Pat, where were you when I was teaching English??? We weren't using computers and certainly not blogging, I guess. Thank you for this wonderful post on two poets I recall fondly.

CatHerder said...

what beautiful architecture!

Lorrie said...

Pat this is yet another wonderful historical tour. Thank you so much. I just love that window box, never seen anything like it before.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

Beautiful! Do you watch This Old House on PBS? This series is on restoring an old brownstone....

Bo said...

Hi Pat...another wonderful & informative post about places in NYC I'll most likely never get to visit...this is a great post!
Thanks, ;-) Bo
P.S. I've been having a wonderful wk-end with my one & only grandboy this I'm late getting around to visit!

Unknown said...

Thanks for another great post about NYC. I would like to make it to Brooklyn next time we are there. We thought about taking one of those on and off tours...they have one that goes to Brooklyn.

I reread your lower Manhattan posts...saw lots of familiar scenes!

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Those buildings are wonderful, what a great post.

Thanks again Pat!

Anonymous said...

Good morning Pat, I have missed visiting your blog. I am feeling better and more energetic of late.

I love your post today and the beautiful building you have shared. The histories of Auden and Wolfe, about their brief stay in NY is so interesting. I really know little of their work but you have sparked my interest. There is so much history in the City of NY.

My maternal grandfather's family came to America from Bavaria and settled in NY. That was in 1702. Some of them settled in MI. My grandfather's grandparents to be exact. I too was born in MI. We have quite a history in the making of America.

Have a wonderful day.


Tracy said...

*SIGH*...LOVED this latest tour, Pat...architecture and literature...a wonderful pairing! Your closing sentiment is exactly the thing...blogging is a special way to record things, a virtual commonplace book! :o) Happy week, my friend ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

Happy Tuesday to Leo's grandmother. Isn't it wonderful to have such a great new identity?

Pat, you chose one of my favorites - Of Time And The River.

Helen said...

Thomas Wolfe has always been a favorite of mine .... such an enjoyable read today!

Donna said...

Thanks for the tour, Pat! Love that window box with the angels.


GailO said...

I think you (and Thomas Wolfe) have hit the nail on the head! The rewards of recording life and memories..."a kernel of life"

It looks like fun walking around Brooklyn for our edification! It certainly is fun viewing it here!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tour. I love the door in the first photo and the window box. Love the whole neighborhood. Never been here before.


Lisa's RetroStyle said...

Beautiful words and images...yours and theirs! So romantic...ahhhh... to be a writer living in those buildings in those times.

Nancy Jane said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I have spent quite a bit of time in NYC - worked in Manhattan and always came in on weekends for shopping and social things and we do have family and friends in all 5Boroughs - but I've never been to Auden's home. Not even sure that I knew that he lived in Brooklyn! I'm not usually drawn to poetry, but Auden struck a cord with me in high school and I was hooked. One of the highlights of my college career was when he came to our University to read! I was an English major and to hear his words from his lips was an amazing experience. Thank you for the tour, and for bringing back a wonderful memory. Nancy