Honoring Eli Siegel
Hon. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland
In the House of Representatives
Friday, July 26, 2002
Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a great Baltimorean poet, educator, and founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel.
Mr. Siegel was born in 1902 and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where his contributions to literature and humanity began. Mr. Siegel founded the philosophy Aesthetic Realism in 1941, based on principles such as: Man’s deepest desire, his largest desire, is to like the world on an honest or accurate basis, and … The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites.
Mr. Siegel explained that the deepest desire of every person is “to like the world on an honest basis.” He gave thousands of lectures on the arts and sciences.
Mr. Siegel’s work continues at the not-for-profit Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City, where classes, lectures, workshops, dramatic presentations, and poetry readings are offered. In addition, a teaching method, based on Aesthetic Realism, has been tested in New York City public schools. The teaching method has been tremendously successful…. The teaching method may be used as an effective tool to stop racism and promote tolerance; because it enables people of all races to see others with respect and kindness.
In 1925, Eli Siegel won the esteemed Nation Poetry Prize for “Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana,” which brought him to national attention. “Hot Afternoons,” Mr. Siegel said, was affected by his thoughts of Druid Hill Park. And so, it is fitting that on August 16, 2002, the city of Baltimore will dedicate the Eli Siegel Memorial at Druid Hill Park on a site near the Madison Avenue entrance, not far from his early home on Newington Avenue. The bronze memorial plaque … includes a sculptured portrait and poetry.
Mayor Martin O’Malley has designated August 16, 2002 as “Eli Siegel Day” in Baltimore. At this time, I would like to insert the Mayor’s proclamation and a few of Eli Siegel’s poems found in the June 5, 2002 [issue] of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation magazine for the record.
Eli Siegel died in 1978, but his poetry and the education of Aesthetic Realism will be studied in every English, literature, and art classroom across the nation for years to come. I would like to end this tribute by reciting a poem Eli Siegel wrote honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
SOMETHING ELSE SHOULD DIE:
A POEM WITH RHYMES
By Eli Siegel
In April 1865
Abraham Lincoln died.
In April 1968
Martin Luther King died.
Their purpose was to have us say, some day:
Eli Siegel wrote poems for more than six decades. These poems expressed his thoughts on people, feelings, everyday life, love, nature, history. I am proud to offer this tribute. Thank you.