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Lindley Williams Hubbell

lindleyLindley Williams Hubbell (1901 – 1994) was born in 1901 in Hartford, Connecticut, into an old Puritan family…

He worked as a librarian in the Map Room of the New York Public Library from 1925 to 1946, during which time he went to Italy and lived there for a year, and in 1940 in Puerto Rico for 6 months. From 1946 to 1953 he taught the history of drama, Greek tragedies, Ibsen, Shakespeare and modern poetry at the Randall School of Arts in Hartford.

He received a Yale Younger Poets award in 1927, and his books of poetry were published by major publishers in the US. He was one of the earliest admirers of Gertrude Stein and corresponded with her since he wrote a defending article of her first 4 books of The Plain Edition. When she came to New York in 1934, he accompanied her many times. He actually saw and heard the celebrated artists of the West in the early 20th century, including Eleanora Duse, Bernhardt, Mary Garden, Nijinsky and Pavlova.

He came to Japan in 1953, became naturalized and acquired his Japanese name Hayashi Shuseki (Autumn Stone in the Woods). He taught Shakespeare and English literature at Doshisha University in Kyoto from 1953 to 1970, and was given the Litt. D. with his 2 books, Lectures on Shakespeare (1958) and Classic Drama (1982).

He loved Nô drama and he saw 186 out of the extant 240 plays, 849 erformances in all. He helped translate Kadensho (Secret teachings on Nô performance) by Zeami (1363 – 1443), published by the foundation of Sumiya-Shinobe Scholoarship (1968). He also dedicated himself to Shinto, especially to the beauty of its ceremonies and rituals, its music and dance.

After The Ikuta Press was set up in 1970, 16 volumes of his poetry and prose were published by the press. After he retired from Doshisha, he taught at Mukogawa Women’s University in Nishinomiya until the age of 86. He continued to write throughout his long life. He died in 1994 in the Kunishima Hospital in Kyoto. (Ikuta Press)

What an interesting life Lindley Williams Hubbell had. He’s one of the poets I found in American Poetry The Twentieth Century Volume Two: E.E. Cummings to May Swenson. And I gotta tell ya, info and pictures of some of these poets are hard to come by. But I finally found a bio and ONE picture of him on a website from Ikuta Press, which I’m assuming was his company in Japan.

Be that as it may, this little poem caught my attention. We all wear so many hats, play so many roles in our lives, sometimes all within moments of each other, that the idea of those personalities being like a string of beads fascinated me. Made me wonder what a nut case I’d be if mine fell apart! It’s a short poem, but I found it very thought provoking. Waka (“Japanese poem”) is a type of poetry in classical Japanese literature. Waka are composed in Japanese, and are contrasted with poetry composed by Japanese poets in Classical Chinese, which are known as kanshi. (And here I thought I was doing well with haiku and tanka!)




I am not a person.
I am a succession of persons
Held together by memory.

When the string breaks,
The beads are scattered.


Picture Sources:

Lindley Williams Hubbell — Ikuta Press
roken Beads — beautiful objects