George Santayana Poems

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George Santayana
George Santayana (December 16, 1863, Madrid – September 26, 1952, Rome), was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist. A lifelong Spanish citizen, Santayana was raised and educated in the United States, wrote in English and is generally considered an American man of letters, even though, of his nearly 89 years, he spent only 39 in the U.S. He is perhaps best known for the oft-misquoted remark, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," from Reason in Common Sense, the first volume of his The Life of Reason. Originally Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás, he spent his early childhood in Ávila, Spain. His father, Agustín Ruíz de Santayana, was a colonial civil servant, painter, and minor intellectual. His mother, Josefina Borrás, was the daughter of a Spanish official in the Philippine Islands. Jorge was the only child of his mother's second marriage. She had previously been the widow of George Sturgis, a Boston merchant by whom she had five children, two of whom died in infancy. She lived in Boston following her husband's death in 1857, but in 1861 went with her three surviving Sturgis children to live in Madrid. There she again encountered Agustín Santayana, an old friend from her years in the Philippines and married him in 1862. The family lived in Madrid and Ávila until 1869 when Santayana's mother returned to Boston with her three Sturgis children, leaving Jorge, then five, with his father in Spain. Jorge and his father followed her in 1872, but his father, not finding either Boston or his wife's attitude to his liking, soon returned alone to Ávila, where he remained for the rest of his life. Jorge did not see him again until summer vacations while he was a student at Harvard. Thus from the time he was five, Jorge's parents lived apart. Sometime during this period Jorge became George, the English equivalent. He attended Boston Latin School and Harvard University, studying under William James and Josiah Royce, whose colleague he subsequently became. After graduating from Harvard in 1886, he studied for two years in Berlin, returning to Harvard to write a thesis on Rudolf Hermann Lotze and teach philosophy, thus becoming part of the Golden Age of the Harvard philosophy department. Some of his Harvard students became famous in their own right, including T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Walter Lippmann, and Harry Austryn Wolfson. In 1912, his careful savings added to a legacy from his mother allowed him to resign his Harvard position and spend the rest of his life in Europe. After some years in Ávila, Paris and Oxford, he began, after 1920, to winter in Rome, eventually living there year-round until his death in 1952. During his 40 years in Europe, he wrote 19 books and declined several prestigious academic positions. Many of his visitors and correspondents were Americans, including his assistant and eventual literary executor, Daniel Cory. In later life, Santayana was financially comfortable, in part because his 1935 novel, The Last Puritan, had become an unexpected best-seller. In turn, he assisted financially a number of writers including Bertrand Russell, with whom he was in fundamental disagreement, philosophically and politically. Santayana never married.

i would i might forget that i am i
I would I might forget that I am I,
And break the heavy chain that binds me fast,
Whose li... [read poem]
i sought on earth a garden of delight
I sought on earth a garden of delight,
Or island altar to the Sea and Air,
Where gentle mu... [read poem]
Sunbright ale is royal food,
Jarring cups disloyal feud.
I will cheer my soaking mood... [read poem]
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