Every morning I receive a poem from Poem-a-Day. When I read Lola Ridge’s “Altitude”, I believed it to be written by a contemporary poet:
how it would be here with you,
where the wind
that has shaken off its dust in low valleys
touches one cleanly,
as with a new-washed hand,
is as the remote hunger of droning things,
but a little silence
sinking into the great silence.
– Lola Ridge
But contemporary it was not. “Altitude” was written in 1920 by Lola Ridge who was born in Dublin in 1873 and died in New York in 1941. Isn’t it just amazing how the very best art and poetry transcends time, how it makes us all contemporaneous?
Born in Dublin in 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 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. She died in New York at the age of sixty-seven.