The Blue Slug by James Sutherland-Smith

The Blue Slug July 2009 (2)

The Blue Slug
by James Sutherland-Smith

A blue slug, the colour of biro ink,
makes its way down the side of a rotting log
and slides past the fire I’ve cultivated.
Is this the month that slugs and snails change sex,
this blue a final blue of indecision?
I don’t inhabit the kingdom of the slug
and am, alas, only and forever male
with worse indecisions all of my own.

The sun is setting without hesitation.
So colour and temperature reverse.
Will the White Admiral, mostly brown,
that seems to think my cabin belongs to him
and sips sweat from the bald patch on my head,
now expand and reappear as an angel,
a lord of light with a flaming sword
saying, “Welcome home, Son of Adam?”

Will the blue slug inflate into a devil,
scarlet now with twitching horns and grinning,
“Your last sin, thinking a slug is just a slug.”
The stream beside my cabin has turned dark
glistening like old Kodak negative.
The girl in the moon floats up above the pines,
a celebrity simply passing through
an occasion too trifling to stay long.

Indeed nothing happens. The White Admiral
has folded up its wings fidgeting to stillness
imitating a leaf. The blue slug
has, no doubt, inched across the slick dew
to feed on burdock or angelica.
A warmth at midnight sidles through the trees
and so I leave the cabin door ajar
to watch the fire I made dwindle, then wink out.

PHOTO: Blue slug, Slovakia (2009) by James Sutherland-Smith.

NOTE: Bielzia coerulans, commonly known as the Carpathian blue slug or simply the blue slug, is a species of very large land slug. Slug is a common name for any apparently shell-less terrestrial gastropod mollusk. Slugs are hermaphrodites, having both female and male reproductive organs.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My cabin and Bielzia(bub) coerulans are in the forest near Zlata Bana (Gold mine) near Presov, Slovakia.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Sutherland-Smith  was born in Scotland in 1948, and now lives in Slovakia. He has published seven collections of his own poetry, the most recent is The River and the Black Cat published by Shearsman Books (2018). He has translated a number of Slovak poets, publishing three individual selections in Britain, two in Canada, and one in the United States, and three Serbian poets with two selections from Miodrag Pavlovic and Ivana Milankov in Britain. His translation of poetry has been awarded the Slovak Hviezdoslav Prize and the Serbian Zlatko Krasni Prize. His most recent translation is from the poetry of Mila Haugová, Eternal Traffic, published in Britain by Arc Publications.

Candle Lighting at Fátima by Joan Leotta


Candle Lighting at Fátima
by Joan Leotta

The scratch of our match
brings flame to the thin wick.
Delicate wax
drips on our fingers
as we search for
just the right spot
to place the candle,
lit for friends who are sick.
Lightly burned
by beeswax, our
finally secure a place
for our light
among the others.
Pulling back
from the array of offerings
that same wax,
cooling now,
assuages the pain in our
fingers, pleased as
we see our candle flickering but
holding our petitions in the light.

PHOTO: Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Fátima, Portugal, a Roman Catholic church  in the Sanctuary of Fátima in Cova da Iria, in the civil parish of Fátima, in the municipality of Ourém in central Portugal. Photo by LhcCoutinho, used by permission.


NOTE: Fátima, Portugal, has been permanently associated with the Marian apparitions  witnessed by three local shepherd children at the Cova da Iria in 1917. The Catholic Church later recognized these events as “worthy of belief”. A small chapel was built at the site of the apparition, now known as Our Lady of Fátima, beginning in 1918, and a statue installed. The chapel and statue have since been enclosed within the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, a shrine complex containing two minor basilicas. Associated facilities for pilgrims, including a hotel and medical center, have also been built within and around the Sanctuary. The site has become an international destination for religious tourists, hosting six to eight million pilgrims yearly.

PHOTO: Monument to shepherds Lúcia Santos, Jacinta Marto, and Francisco Marto, the three children in Fátima, Portugal, who reported their 1917 visitations from the Virgin Mary. Photo by János Korom Dr., used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is from a 2016 trip to Portugal. I had always wanted to go to Fátima—The nuns showed us movies about it on rainy days when I was a young girl at Ursuline Academy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer. Her poems have appeared in Silver Birch, When Women Write, Verse Visual, Verse Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, Yassou, Stanzaic Stylings, read at the Ashmolean, and have won an award at the Wilda Morris Challenge. Her first chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is available from Finishing Line Press. Her essays, articles, and stories are also widely published. On stage, she presents folk and personal tales of food, family, and strong women. She loves to walk the beach, cook, and browse through her many travel photos. Visit her at and on Facebook.

Beyond the bend in the road by Fernando Pêssoa

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Beyond the bend in the road
by Fernando Pêssoa

Beyond the bend in the road
there may be a well, a castle.
There may be simply more road.
I neither know nor ask.
As long as I’m on the road before the bend
I simply look at the road before the bend,
since I can see only the road before the bend.
It would do no good to look elsewhere
or at what I can’t see.
Let’s just concentrate on where we are.
There’s beauty enough in being here, not elsewhere.
If anyone’s there beyond the bend in the road,
let them worry about what’s beyond the bend in the road.
That is the road, to them.
If we arrive there when we arrive we’ll know.
Now we only know that we’re not there.
Here there’s only the road before the bend, and before the bend
there’s the road with no bend at all.

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved

PHOTO: High mountain road in the national park of Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal. Photo by Zacarias Pereira Da Mata, used by permission.

NOTE: The Peneda-Gerês National Park, the only national park in Portugal, is located in the northwestern section of the country, in the Viana do CasteloBraga, and Vila Real Districts. The 270-square-mile park was created on May 8, 1971 to protect the area’s soil, water, flora, fauna, and landscape.

1024px-Pessoabaixa ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fernando Pêssoa was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1888. In 1914, the year his first poem was published, Pessoa established the three main literary personas, or heteronyms, as he called them, that he used throughout his career: Alberto Caeiro, a rural, uneducated poet of great ideas who wrote in free verse; Ricardo Reis, a physician who composed formal odes influenced by Horace; and Álvaro de Campos, an adventurous London-based naval engineer influenced by poet Walt Whitman and the Italian Futurists. Pessoa published under his own name as well, but considered that work the product of an “orthonym,” another literary persona. He is believed to have used over 70 heteronyms. After his death in 1935, his work gained widespread publication and acclaim. In The Western Canon, critic Harold Bloom included Pessoa as one of the 26 writers responsible for establishing the parameters of western literature.

PHOTO: The author in Lisbon, Portugal, during the 1920s.

Lucille Lang Day, What the Tortoises Know


What the Tortoises Know
            Galápagos Islands
by Lucille Lang Day

On Genovesa, as my husband lay
on the beach of Darwin Bay,
a sea lion came to sniff his toes
and a red-footed booby, sitting
with her chick in a mangrove
nearby, let me get kissing-close.

On North Seymour, the frigate birds
weren’t fazed by me, and a young
blue-footed booby was intrigued
by my walking stick. On Española,
the sand was so thick with iguanas,
it was hard not to step on them.

The guide explained that the animals
here don’t fear us, hawks and short-
eared owls being the only predators
evolution has bred them to know.
They first saw humans with guns
and bows just five hundred years ago.

But giant tortoises, who live to be one
hundred fifty years old, have seen
how we kill to make boxes and combs,
so heads and legs withdraw into shells
at the sound of a loud voice and
they grow still as clean-picked bones.

From Birds of San Pancho and Other Poems of Place (Blue Light Press, 2020), by Lucille Lang Day. First published in Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis, Spring 2019.

PHOTO: Tortoise, Galápagos Islands. Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

NOTE: The Galápagos Islands, part of the Republic of Ecuador, are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean surrounding the centre of the Western Hemisphere. Located 563 miles west of continental Ecuador, the islands are known for their large number of endemic species that were studied by Charles Darwin during the second voyage of HMS Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I visited the Galápagos Islands in January 2017. I’d wanted to go there for about 20 years! The wildlife was amazing, and almost all of the animals allowed humans to get very close to them. Visitors are told to stay at least six feet away from the animals, but this can be difficult because the animals themselves try to get closer.

PHOTO: Red-footed booby, Galápagos Islands. Photo by Pen Ash, used by permission. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lucille Lang Day is the author of seven full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks. Her most recent collection is Birds of San Pancho and Other Poems of Place (Blue Light Press, November 2020). She has also coedited two anthologies, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California and Red Indian Road West: Native American Poetry from California, and has published two children’s books and a memoir, Married at Fourteen: A True Story. Her many honors include the Blue Light Poetry Prize, two PEN Oakland/ Josephine Miles Literary Awards, the Joseph Henry Jackson Award, and 10 Pushcart Prize nominations. She is the founder and publisher of Scarlet Tanager Books. Visit her at

PHOTO: The author and frigate birds on North Seymour, Galápagos Islands, January 2017.

The Blue Booby by James Tate


The Blue Booby
by James Tate

The blue booby lives
on the bare rocks
of Galápagos
and fears nothing.
It is a simple life:
they live on fish,
and there are few predators.
Also, the males do not
make fools of themselves
chasing after the young
ladies. Rather,
they gather the blue
objects of the world
and construct from them

a nest—an occasional
Gaulois package,
a string of beads,
a piece of cloth from
a sailor’s suit. This
replaces the need for
dazzling plumage;
in fact, in the past
fifty million years
the male has grown
considerably duller,
nor can he sing well.
The female, though,

asks little of him—
the blue satisfies her
completely, has
a magical effect
on her. When she returns
from her day of
gossip and shopping,
she sees he has found her
a new shred of blue foil:
for this she rewards him
with her dark body,
the stars turn slowly
in the blue foil beside them
like the eyes of a mild savior.

From Selected Poems. Copyright © 1991 by James Tate. 

PHOTO: Blue-footed booby birds on a Galápagos Island, Ecuador. Photo by Jenni Miska on Unsplash


NOTE: The blue-footed booby is a marine bird native to subtropical and tropical regions of the eastern Pacific Ocean–recognizable by their distinctive bright blue feet. Males display their feet in an elaborate mating ritual by lifting them up and down while strutting before the female.  About half of all breeding pairs nest on the Galápagos Islands.

PHOTO: Blue-footed booby with one foot raised during his mating dance. Photo by Pete, used by permission. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Tate (1943-2015) was the author of over 20 poetry collections, including the posthumously published The Government Lake (2018); The Ghost Soldiers (2008); Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994), which won the National Book Award; Selected Poems (1991), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award; Distance from Loved Ones (1990); Constant Defender (1983); Viper Jazz (1976); and The Oblivion Ha-Ha (1970). Tate’s poems have been described as tragic, comic, absurdist, ironic, hopeful, haunting, lonely, and surreal. Tate said of his own poems in a Paris Review interview, “There is nothing better than [to move the reader deeply]. I love my funny poems, but I’d rather break your heart. And if I can do both in the same poem, that’s the best. If you laughed earlier in the poem, and I bring you close to tears in the end, that’s the best.” Tate’s honors included an Academy of American Poets chancellorship, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, the Tanning Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He taught the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia University, Emerson College, and for five decades, at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Apple Tea in a Fairy Chimney by Margaret Duda

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Apple Tea in a Fairy Chimney
by Margaret Duda

I feel the strength of my husband’s hand
As he leads me up the uneven steps
Carved into the side of a fairy chimney
In the Göreme Valley of Cappadocia.

We enter a sand-colored room chiseled in tuff,
Settle close on a stone ledge covered with pillows,
Admire the woven carpet beneath our small table,
And inhale the aroma of traveling through time.

A Turkish waiter in a long white robe brings
Apple tea in clear hourglass-shaped cups,
Then lights a tall candle, smiles, and ducks
Back out the door beside a window with no pane.

Fourteen years after my husband’s death,
I reach back across two million years, and
Once again, eternity lets me feel his hand in mine
In the flickering candlelight of a fairy chimney.

PHOTO: Fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, Turkey, by Paul Duda, used by permission.

NOTE: Cappadocia is a historical region in Turkey that includes a variety of natural wonders, including fairy chimneys, also known as hoodoos. A hoodoo is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Hoodoos typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations and are mainly found in the desert in dry, hot areas. Hoodoos range in size from the height of an average human to higher than a 10-story building.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Years ago, after my husband’s lecture in Istanbul, we flew to Cappadocia on the Anatolian plains of central Turkey. We wanted to see the Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, as it is said to be unlike any other landscape in the world. We were not disappointed. Part of this rugged area consists of basalt and thick beds of tuff. The tuff is the result of ash emitted from volcanoes millions of years ago, which solidified into a soft rock, and has since been overlain by solidified lava which forms a protective capping. Centuries of wind and rain erosion formed rock pillars, tent rocks, and fairy chimneys with mushroom-like lava caps. The Hittites settled the area first between 1800 and 1200 B.C., followed by Assyrians, Persians, Alexander the Great, the Greeks, Romans, Armenians, and finally the Ottomans in the 15th century. With the help of a monastic clergy, early Christians hid in the secluded valleys and chiseled out homes, churches, and even underground communities in the area, many of which are still inhabited, while others are tourist attractions. My husband and I explored stone structures in the park and nearby towns for several days, but on the final evening, we needed refreshment as the sun was slowly setting. With help from inhabitants, we found a one-room teahouse in a fairy chimney. The scent of apples enveloped us as the darkness of night slowly closed in on two tired, but very happy tourists holding hands in the candlelight of a fairy chimney in Cappadocia.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  A professional author, photographer, and jewelry designer, Margaret Duda has had her work published in The Kansas Quarterly, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Crosscurrents, The South Carolina Review, The Green River Review, The University Review, Fine Arts Discovery, The Green River Review, Venture, and Silver Birch Press. One of her short stories made the distinctive list of Best American Short Stories. She also had a play produced in Michigan, has had several books of nonfiction published, including Four Centuries of Silver and Traditional Chinese Toggles: Counterweights and Charms, and took travel photographs for the New York Times for 10 years. She lives in Pennsylvania, and is working on the final draft of an immigrant family saga novel set in a steel mill town from 1910 to 1920. She is also writing poetry to find a shred of sanity during this pandemic.

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ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Paul Duda received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in photography from Pennsylvania State University and his Master’s of fine Arts degree in photography with a minor in art history from Pratt Institute in New York City. Over the last three and a half decades, his work is a study of culture in more than 30 countries. He has shown both in the United States and internationally in over 30 one-man exhibitions, including Istanbul and Bozcaada, Turkey, as well as Prague, Czech Republic, and New York City, and has participated in more then 60 group exhibitions. The Vanishing Hutongs of Beijing  a photographic study of areas destroyed in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics was published in 2007. Duda has been an instructor of fine art photography for the past 30 years, and since 1992 has owned and operated studioDUDA photography, a fine art photographic studio in New Haven Connecticut.

The Turkish Bee by Laurel Trivelpiece

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The Turkish Bee
by Laurel Trivelpiece

Like a furry screw a Turkish bee hovers
Above our café table.

Is he here:

to plug up holes made
by blind gods waving sieves?

to celebrate this basket
of fresh bread, balanced
on a pinpoint of time rushing by?

—to unwind his reality,
one quick capsule,
riding his single shot
for all it’s worth?

He sees his way by signs he sets up
as he goes. Wanting and getting one and

the same: no singing, no blurring,
no kiting off after distant glimmers:

those are always half moons of sheep
high on the rocky Anatolian hills.

We watch how he fizzles as the sunlight
Passes through him.

PHOTO: Bee collecting honey from flower in Istanbul. Photo by Ertürk Buluç, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laurel Trivelpiece (1926–1998) was an American poet and novelist. She worked in her youth as fruit-picker and, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, as an editor and copywriter for Macys and other department stores in the San Francisco Bay Area. She lived in Corte Madera, California. Publications include two poetry collections, four young adult novels, one adult novel, and prize-winning fiction and plays. Her second poetry collection, Blue Holes (1987), won the Beatrice Hawley Award, and one of her poems was included in Best American Poetry 1995. Her poems also appeared in literary journals and magazines including Poetry, The Massachusetts Review, The American Poetry Review, and The Malahat Review.  Her short story “Gentle Constancy” (Denver Quarterly, Fall) was acknowledged in the Distinctive Short Stories, 1970 list in The Best American Short Stories, 1971.

Walking Flashes in Eleuthera Bahamas by Hy Sobiloff

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Walking Flashes in Eleuthera Bahamas
                        Governor’s Harbor
by Hy Sobiloff

When the rain finished
I walked barefoot and slid
I walked mostly with myself
Picked wood shapes from the ground
The moisture washed me
My sneakers made a pocket for the stones and pieces
I came upon some grass
And a lovely stone stubbed my toe
I hollered to the tree

I walked for myself
Saw such things that skies will tell
I gazed at the heat colors
Sparkling firework tints
My eyes blinked at its stirring beauty
The things to see walking
Are too true
I held and smelled the grass leaves
Today makes sense to me
My feet are better
My heart is warm
And here I am

PHOTOGRAPHER’S PHOTO CAPTION: Stunning beaches and abandoned lighthouse at the southern tip of the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas. Rock formations, caves, palm and casuarina trees, turquoise water, and coral reefs abound. Photo by Sarah Glashagel, used by permission. 

NOTE: Eleuthera refers both to a single island in the archipelagic state of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to its associated group of smaller islands. Known in the 17th century as Cigateo, it lies 50 miles east of Nassau. It is long and thin—110 miles long and in places little more than one mile wide. Eleuthera’s eastern side faces the Atlantic Ocean, and its western side faces the Great Bahama Bank. The topography of the island varies from wide rolling pink sand beaches to large outcrops of ancient coral reefs, Its population is approximately 11,000. The first significant number of British settlers arrived in 1648. Under British rule for over 300 years, the Bahamas became independent in 1973.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hy Sobiloff (1912-1970) was film producer, poet, and philanthropist. Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, he attended the University of Arizona, Boston University, and New York University.  His poetry collections include Dinosaurs and Violins, In the Deepest Aquarium, Breathing of First Things, and Hooting Across the Silence. 

Archipelago by Kendel Hippolyte


by Kendel Hippolyte

If you really see the Caribbean archipelago, you will see yourself,
the vivid scattered islands stirring to awakening in a sea of reverie and nightmare,
the goldening light lifting green foliage out of darkness into its illumination
and the surrounding blue immensity brooding an unknown creaturing of what can live only in depth

If you hear the Caribbean archipelago, you will hear it talking to you in tongues
of the original tribes of the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia; you will hear quarrelling, then a blur
and you will hear the simultaneous translation of these languages into the first language,
the sea talking to itself because in the beginning and the end there is no other

If you truly see the Caribbean archipelago, it will become clear
how the fragmented, brittle arc of islands, resisting the onsurge of ocean, makes the sea the sea;
how the ocean, reaching around breached rock, trying to rejoin itself, makes islands islands;
how they both therefore define each other, how they refine your understanding of the selfhood
into an acceptance of the necessary oneness of the known and the unknown

If you can be the Caribbean archipelago, acknowledging that your littoral shape is never final,
that it shifts with your awareness that below the sublunary rise-and-ebb there is an undertow,
a contrary flow that draws you down, deepening to where the separate i-lands reach
beyond the scattered stones of their selves, growing down back into one bedrock, into the original
ground from which the sea, the ocean, the self-dismembered yet defining archipelago rise into their being,
if you can be this, be yond it, you will miracle into impossibility, you will see
how to be broken and yet whole.

From Fault Lines. Copyright © 2012 by Kendel Hippolyte.

PHOTO: Saint Lucia, West Indies, showing the Gros and Petite Pitons, two volcanic spires, located near the town of Soufrière. Photo by Scott Taylor on Unsplash


NOTE: Saint Lucia is a sovereign island country in the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. The island was previously called Lyonola, the name given to the island by the native Arawaks and later, Hewanorra, the name given by the native Caribs, two separate Amerindian peoples. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados, and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 238 square miles and reported a population of 165,595 in the 2010 census.  The French were the first Europeans to settle on the island. They signed a treaty with the native Island Caribs in 1660. In ensuing years, the rule of the island changed frequently—it was ruled seven times each by the French and British. In 1814, the British took definitive control of the island. On February 22, 1979, Saint Lucia became an independent state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

PHOTO: West Indies island of Saint Lucia. Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kendel Hippolyte was born in Castries, the capital of St. Lucia, and was educated at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. He worked as a teacher at St. Mary’s College in Vigie, Castries, and the Sir Arthur Lewis College at the Morne. He is actively involved as a playwright and director with the Lighthouse Theatre Company, which co-founded. He has written eight plays—his best known, Drum-maker, uses idiomatic Caribbean language to explore the indigenous local culture in a political context. He has published several collections of verse, including Birthright and Night Vision, characterized by its modernist free style. He is also the editor of the anthologies Confluence: Nine Saint Lucian Poets (1988) and So Much Poetry in We People (1990). In 2000, he was awarded the St. Lucia Medal of Merit (Gold) for Contribution to the Arts. In 2013 he won the poetry category of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for his 2012 poetry collection Fault Lines. His latest collection is Wordplanting (Peepal Tree Press, 2019).

Siesta in Cartagena by Daniel Catton Rich


Siesta in Cartagena (excerpt)
by Daniel Catton Rich

The city lies, en cabochon,
A black and white Dominican dawn
Gives way to balconies of heat
Down a cerise street,
Mingled everywhere, the smell
Of jasmine, Flit and tuberose,
Under a baroque shell.

SOURCE: Poetry magazine, February 1944. Read poem in its entirety here.

PHOTO: Cartagena Colombia. Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel Catton Rich (1904-1976) was an American art curator, museum administrator, and educator. He served as director of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Worcester Art Museum, and was president of Poetry Magazine in 1952, as well as a published poet in that magazine. In 1960-61, he served as visiting lecturer in art history at Harvard. He was decorated by foreign governments, including the Legion d’Honneur (France), the order of Orange Nassau (Netherlands), and the Cavalieri Order Merit (Italy).