Poets on Postage – Now & Then

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

In the mid 1990s picked up a “first day of issue” postage stamp of the poet Edna St. Millay (happened to be waiting for a train at Union Station in Washington DC and had some time — it turns out the National Postage Museum is right across the street from the train station & admission is free).

This was actually an “archived” item as this stamp was an 18 cents first class postage stamp from 1981. 

Was able to find that there are some other “archived” postage stamps that were issued from time to time in honor of other poets as well:

Emily Dickinson (issued 1971 8 cents stamp);

Paul Laurence Dunbar (issued 1975 10 cents stamp);

T. S. Eliot (issued 1986 22 cents stamp);

Robert Frost (issued 1973 10 cents stamp);

Robinson Jeffers (issued 1974 8 cents stamp);

Edgar Lee Masters (issued 1970 6 cents stamp);

Marianne Moore (issued 1990 25 cents stamp);

Edgar Allen Poe (he’s had two stamps in his honor: issued 1949 3 cents stamp and issued 2009 42 cents stamp);

Walt Whitman (issued 1940 5 cents stamp)

Now: March 2012 

Yesterday, at the U.S. Post Office happened to look thru Vol. 17, Quarter 1, 2012 edition of the “U.S. Philatelic” Catalog of stamps and stumbled upon the 2012 forever stamps of “Twentieth-Century Poets.”  All right!

So who are the poets whose black & white photographic portraits are featured in this sheet of new stamps:

Elizabeth Bishop

Joseph Brodsky

Gwendolyn Brooks

e.e. cummings

Robert Hayden

Denise Levertov

Sylvia Plath

Theodore Roethke

Wallace Stevens

William Carlos Williams

Similar to me there may be some of these poets whose work people possibly know and others perhaps not.  (my familiarity includes the work of Gwendolyn Brooks, e.e. cummings, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams –the others, in some instances, I recognize the name only).

It’s a good thing for poets to be honored in this way, and if you think of it when you’re in the post office needing stamps, ask for one or two of these forever poet stamps ~

P.S. April is “National Poetry Month”


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