JULY 6, 1945
HYDE PARK, Thursday—In today's column, I want to write about the joys of leisure. Leisure, of course, does not mean that one has nothing to do. It means, rather, that one's occupations are changed. For two days this week, mine changed quite completely. I did nothing but play, sharing my pleasure with friends who were able to spend a little time with me.
One friend of mine I marvel at whenever we meet. She must be nearly my age, and yet she manages to do all of her own housework in a big, old-fashioned house. She keeps a tremendous garden going, because it is wartime and we must grow food. Sometimes she has one rather elderly man to help her, but much of the time she is all alone. She has picked quarts and quarts of strawberries and taken them to the people who could preserve them for winter use. She is interested in everything that is going on in her neighborhood—church, school and politics. She writes for the papers occasionally on things of general interest, and innumerable letters go to her friends, her children in this country and her son overseas. I often think that all of this must tire her, but she welcomes guests to her home and makes them feel that they are a joy and not a burden. When she spends a day with me, she swims and talks and seems completely able to enjoy her leisure.
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That is the mark of a really well-controlled person. Many people become obsessed with the things they must do. When an opportunity comes for leisure they cannot enjoy it, for they cannot free their minds from the thought of their many obligations.
One of our two leisure evenings here at the cottage was spent in listening to some beautiful new recordings of Earl Robinson's "Lonesome Train. Although he himself had played it for me on the piano, I had never heard it as a complete record. I missed his personality, but it is a marvelous recording and I shall enjoy having it whenever I have other leisure moments. Other recordings which we enjoyed were Burl Ives' folk songs, which always give me special pleasure.
Last evening we took to reading poetry aloud. Some poems I think are particularly good to read in this way, because they are more enjoyable when you hear the rhythm of the lines. Alfred Noyes' "Barrel Organ," as well as his "Highwayman" and other shorter poems brought us finally to Countee Cullen's "The Black Christ."
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Of course, there are people to whom poetry means little more than prose. But to those who care for sound and thought combined, I think poetry read aloud is one of the great pleasures which companionable people may enjoy together. This poem of Countee Cullen's has great literary beauty. Its theme is also so compelling that I often think it should be required reading in every school throughout the country where youngsters are mature enough to understand and feel the tragedy of a race as expressed by a great poet.