Monday, June 15, 2009

Hawk of the Light

I've read just about everything that Flannery O'Connor has written, probably because I grew up in Georgia and went to college in North Carolina. If you're into literature and southern stuff, she's sort of de rigueur. I sort of overdosed on all that southern gothic stuff, though, and haven't looked at it in years. I think she must be making some kind of comeback, as I read a review of a new biography about her and keep seeing her name pop up. O'Connor led a fascinating life of sickness, devout Catholicism and just plain eccentricity that makes for riveting reading.

I'm assuming that the following beautiful poem refers to her. It appeared on the Writers Almanac this morning. I'm going to read A Good Man is Hard to Find tonight.

Flannery's Angel

Lead us to those we are waiting for,
Those who are waiting for us.
May your wings protect us,
may we not be strangers in the lush province of joy.

Remember us who are weak,
You who are strong in your country which lies beyond the thunder,
Raphael, angel of happy meeting,
resplendent, hawk of the light.

by Charles Wright, from Sestets: Poems. © Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2009.


  1. If I've never read anything of hers, does it mean I'm ignorant? Or just a damn Yankee? =)

  2. I wouldn't say ignorant, but a well-read, educated person should read some Flannery O'Connor. She is truly one of the greatest American writers -- very dark and weird and spiritual but brilliant. I highly recommend it. And I'm a born damn Yankee, thank God!

  3. Wait, you grew up in GA? I grew up in Los Angeles.

  4. elizabeth I think that she had lupus. My oldest daughter Angelique has lupus.


  5. Dark and weird? My kinda spiritual writer.

  6. She was a prolific letter writer, too. A collection of them is gathered in a (big) book called "The Habit of Being." The letters are a fascinating adjunct to her stories, especially her interaction with Rhinehart and Harcourt Brace publishing houses. Here's a classic excerpt to her agent concerning the time she switched from Rhinehart to Harcourt: "The criticism (from John Selby at Rhinehart) is vague and really tells me nothing except that they don't like it. I feel the objections they raise are connected with its virtues, and the thought of working with them specifically to correct these lacks they mention is repulsive to me. The letter is addressed to a slightly dim-witted Camp Fire Girl, and I cannot look with composure on getting a lifetime of others like them. . ." Great stuff.

  7. Beth -- thanks for the heads up on that book AND the excerpt which I LOVE!

    Michele Renee -- I lived in Atlanta from age 10 through high school -- but my parents are still there! Where are you from in LA?

    Renee -- She did have lupus and died in her late thirties. I am sorry to hear that your daughter has it -- I have a friend who has it as well, and I know how difficult it can be.



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