Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lovecraft Collaborator--Winifred Virginia Jackson

Photos, Life Timeline, Articles, Poem Recovery





Part I. Introduction

(The content of this blog is a duplicate of my other blog, "Winifred Virginia Jackson--beyond Lovecraft". I created this one due to problems that I had in posting that blog.)

Winifred Virginia Jackson (1876-1959)—Life Event Timeline, Interviews, and Poem Recovery

As a fan of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, I stumbled across the name of Winifred Virginia Jackson. She, due to her beauty and mysteriousness, intrigued me to the point where I resolved to find out more about her and share it with anyone interested. I further resolved to collect samples of her works and share those too because only smatterings of her poetry appear here and there.  My meager collection of her life’s details and her poems is contained in this site.

This blog is presented in 4 parts. It has 6 photos. Part I is this introduction.  Part II is a timeline of her life, some life events, and whereabouts. Part III is a collection of 4 articles about her during her period of greatest recognition and celebrity—1920-1921—arranged in the order in which they were written. As you read these articles, please note how the authors all seem to have a hard time dealing with her unexpected beauty and sophistication. They keep mentioning her as a girl, even though she was 44 at the time and twice divorced. They also provide details of her peculiar method of composing her poetry. They hint at her large output of poetry as well, much of which has almost certainly been lost. One of the articles provides the categories of poems that she wrote, as defined by H.P. Lovecraft. These articles probably provide the best insight into her as a person, but perhaps her poetic work could provide some insight as well. Part IV is a collection of her recovered poems; 92 were found. When compared to the fact that she claimed to have written 49 poems in 3 days, these recovered poems plus 76 other published titles do not seem like much of a collection. It could be that these 92 + 76 poems (actually, 74 because two of the titles are short stories) were her best efforts because these were the ones that got published. The poems are preceded by a list of the recovered poems followed by a list of poem titles that were known to have been published but which could not be found. These two lists are arranged roughly in the order of their discovery and are followed by the (92) recovered poems.

 As you read her poems, it helps on some of them to realize that Great Pond is her Maine hometown, and the town of Ellsworth is about 40 miles south of Great Pond. Great Pond is a very rural place, and this explains her expertise in using rural dialect in some of her poetry. Great Pond had a population of 58 in 2010. A few of her poems refer to Great Pond and its residents and surrounds. A flyer that attended her first book publication, Backroads Maine Narratives, With Lyrics,  states, "Winifred Virginia Jackson was born in the Williams Settlement (named after Joshua Williams, Winifred’s great great grandfather.), Township 33, at the head of the Union River, thirty-odd miles from Bangor, Maine.” (“Township 33” should really be “Plantation 33”. “Plantations” in the state of Maine are rural areas which are designated as having potential to become towns. Plantation 33 incorporated into Great Pond in 1981.) Her parents were father John Kingsbury Jackson, a lumberman, and mother Myra Evelyn Williams. A couple of her poems refer to “K-J”, which is a reference to her father, Kingsbury Jackson. A brief family tree available on the LDS website shows that there were other siblings in her family: Guy Jackson, 1872-1880; Ralph Temple C. Jackson, 1879-1957, and Direxa Myra Jackson, 1885-1885, and of course, Winifred herself, born March 3, 1876.


Winifred Virginia Jackson was an amateur poet whose period of greatest poetic output occurred from about 1916-1927. She was born in a rural logging area of Maine and came to the Boston area in her teens. Her first marriage was in 1902 to a salesman, and he is probably the person with whom she traveled the country from 1902 to around 1910-1911.  She started writing poetry in California in 1910, but from this poetic beginning to about 1915-1917 she threw most of her poems away until a critic convinced her otherwise. 

I arbitrarily name the time that she was associating with HP Lovecraft her “Lovecraft Period,” which was from 1915-17 to 1921. They both were good friends with common literary interests during this time. It is documented that in 1918 she sent him a copy of “The London Daily Mail”, a British tabloid, and also sent him a portrait of herself in 1920. The first of this gifting occurred in 1918 while she was estranged from her second husband, Horace W. Jordan.  The portrait gift prompted HP Lovecraft to compose the following poem to Mrs. Elizabeth Berkeley, a pseudonym of hers. That Lovecraft thought she was very beautiful is proven by the poem that he wrote for her upon receiving that portrait from her as a Christmas gift. The poem follows:

“On Receiving a Portraiture of Mrs. Berkeley, ye Poetess” by HPL, Christmas, 1920

As Phoebus in some ancient shutter’d room
Bursts golden, and dispels the brooding gloom,
Drives ev’ry shadow to its lair uncouth,
And with bright beams revives forgotten youth;
So ’mid the centuried shades of Time’s retreat
See radiant BERKELEY rise in counterfeit!
A score of ghosts, dim dreaming thro’ the night,
Start sudden at the unaccustom’d light;
From dusty frames the white-wigg’d rhymers stare
In quaint confusion as they hail the fair.
Here Goldsmith gapes, half-doubting as he views,
Whether he sees a goddess or a Muse;
Waller close by, a jealous look puts on,
To see his Saccharissa thus outshone,
Whilst Pope inquires if in this sight there gleam
Indeed a poet, or a poet’s theme!
But now another bard insistent call;
Blest Hellas’ train, each from his pedestal;
See Venus and Minerva spiteful vie
To have the new arrival settled nigh.
Graces and Muses in contending songs
Advance the merits of their rival throngs,
Till Jove rebukes them with a thund’rous oath
For claiming one who is ally’d to both!
Now speaks that leader who with light divine
O’er all the pantheon can in splendour shine;
The Delian god, to art and beauty bred,
Who wears the laurel on his golden head:
“Cease, trifling nymphs, as equals to protest
To one whose gifts so much excel your best;
Tho’ outward form the fair indeed would place
Within the ranks of Venus’ comely race,
Yon shapely head so great an art contains
That Pallas’ self must own inferior strains.
If one fair object be a thing to shrine
In marble fanes, and worship as divine,
How may we judge the mind whose magic pow’r
Creates new worlds of beauty ev’ry hour?
As Venus fair, but as Athena wise,
New honours wait a BERKELEY in the skies;
Blest with vast beauties that are hers alone,
She claims from us a new exalted throne.
Let none dispute her place, but let her shine
Impartial o’er the Graces and the Nine!”
He ceas’d, and all the heav’nly train obey’d,
Whilst the new deity dispers’d the shade.
The grave old bards around the study hung
Straighten their wigs, and labour to seem young.
Author and god alike acclaim her might,
And sculptur’d fauns approve the pleasing sight:
So the whole throng the novel wonder bless—
At once a poem and a poetess!

I have included a very poor copy of a photograph of Winifred at the seashore in 1918 taken by Mr. Lovecraft. Lovecraft scholar, S. T. Joshi, believes that their relationship never went deeper than friendship and gift exchanges, in addition to collaborating on a couple of stories. I agree with his assessment.

Although an amateur poet, Winifred Virginia Jackson was a working woman. She worked at different jobs throughout her life, and is recorded as working as a secretary at age 68 in 1944. Most of the time, her jobs were as secretary, stenographer, and editor. During 1922-1929, however, she became a co-founder and eventual owner of B.J. Brimmer Publishing Company, in which she served as its treasurer. This company went bankrupt in 1927, and perhaps remained viable until 1929. Oddly, even with her long work history, she never applied for Social Security (which started in 1935) although she worked at least until 1948. Given the low paying nature of (most of) her jobs, the low pay that women usually received, the Great Depression, and the continuous need to work, I speculate that money was usually in short supply for her.

Somehow she got the reputation of once having had a black husband, and even during her lifetime was said to be black herself. It is unknown if this rumor was widespread or not. Most discussions about Winifred Virginia Jackson mention her relationships with her husband, Horace Wheeler Jordan, and her alleged lover and business partner, William Stanley Beaumont Braithewaite. Both of these men are mentioned as being black men (except that Horace Jordan was white, and the popular literature is wrong which is proven in the next paragraph), which in our times is not worth mentioning.  But back in the 1920s when racism was more extreme and widespread, writers should and do mention these relationships because such a detail could give some insight as to her character; i.e. she was more than willing to violate the norms of her time and deal with the consequences. I have not read any of Lovecraft’s letters which give his reaction to discovering that Braithewaite was black (but I read about it), and do not know if there is any documented Lovecraft reaction to her marriage to Jordan, whom some say was black, but as you will see, the facts will show that any extreme reaction due to the blackness of these men is overdone.

First of all, basic research shows that her second husband, Horace W. Jordan, was white (as was her 1st husband, Frank Le Monn). This conclusion is based on his birth record listing him as white, the 1910 census which lists both him and his parents as white, his 2nd marriage in 1921 which shows him as white, and his 1917 draft registration which lists him as white. Furthermore, the 1913 marriage record for him and Winifred Jackson has a spot to list “color, if other than white”, and it is not filled in for either of the pair, indicating that the marriage was nothing out of the ordinary, racially speaking. Horace was living at home as a 32 year old only child with his parents in the 1910 census. Living with them was an Irish servant who had immigrated here in 1906. His father, age 61 at the time of the 1910 census, lived off his “own income” and the father of Horace’s mother was born in England.  These are unlikely circumstances for the normal black family of this time in racist America.

William Stanley Beaumont Braithewaite was Winifred Virginia Jackson’s business partner and founder of B.J. Brimmer company. The 1920 census lists both he and his wife (and consequently all of his children) as “Mu”, meaning mulattoes. Photos of him show him to be of dark Caucasian appearance.  His 1917 draft registration shows that he was initially categorized as white, and this was then blacked out and “Negro” was checked. Back then, and to some extent now, most people considered anyone of mixed race to be Negro, regardless of percentage. For example, in Samuel Clemens’ novel, Pudd’nhead Wilson, slave owners viewed people who were of just 1/32 Negro heritage as black. It is alleged that Winifred Virginia Jackson had a multiyear affair with Mr. Braithewaite. I will await some sort of evidence that this may be so, such as revealing statements from Mr. Braithewaite’s papers. I tend to believe that there was an affair. If there was such an affair, it probably ended on or before 1934 which is when he moved with his family to Atlanta to become a college professor.

This brings us to the final “black theory” about Winifred Virginia Jackson, which is that she herself may have been of mixed race. Please read the following excerpt from page 183 of Colored Girls’ and Boys’ Inspiring United States History and a Heart to Heart Talk about White Folks by William Henry Harrison, Jr., a black man, copyright 1921. This whole book can be found on the internet at:


“All verse critics who regularly read the close-to-nature, true-to-life, heart-to-heart and cheerful little poems that weekly head the editorial pages of the Chicago Defender, join in acclaiming Alfred Anderson the Edgar A. Guest “Sunshine Poet” of the Negro Race. A few of the many other colored verse writers whose poems frequently appear in leading magazines are Carrie C. Clifford, Sergt. Allen R. Griggs, Jr., Thos. M. Henry, Sarah C. Fernandas, Leslie P. Hill, Roscoe Jamison, Chas. Bertram Johnson, Winifred Virginia Jordan, Will Sexton and Lucian B. Watkins, the last named writer being considered among the foremost writers the race  has produced during the past few years.”

The format of Mr. Harrison’s book is to list as many accomplished and high achievement negroes as possible for each field of endeavor, e.g. sports, poetry, writing, music, diplomacy, politics, military, religion, education, business, law, etc. as well as impactful negroes of American history. To this end, the book sometimes lists whole pages of names of accomplished negroes, far too many to have been vetted as to whether they are truly black or not. Had Mr. Harrison resided in Boston and not in Pennsylvania in 1921 and given his interest in poetry (his book is sprinkled with his own poetic creations), then I would say that his racial claim about WVJ most definitely deserves investigation. But, due to the geographical distance between him and her and due to the hundreds if not thousands of other names in his book, his inclusion of her on his list of black poets is very likely incorrect. The probable origin of his claim is due to at least 5 of her poems being published in various issues of the Brownies Book and 4 other poems published in various issues of “The Crisis” which were periodicals published by blacks, for blacks—the “Brownies Book” was for black children, and “The Crisis” was for adults. One of the founders of both periodicals was W.E.B. Du Bois, the famous black intellectual. (I do not know if WVJ ever met Mr. Du Bois.) So, one’s thinking might be that if these periodicals are published both by and for black people, then for sure the editors would use only black contributors in them.  Wrong –see the following paragraph.  It may also be that her alleged lover and business partner, William Stanley Braithewaite, himself a mulatto and influential in literary circles, could have had some influence in getting her poems published in these black periodicals. However, she got her poems published in these two black periodicals before her known association with Mr. Braithewaite and during her years of high praise from the racist Mr. Lovecraft. Thus it could be that she got those 9 poems published on her own.

I also stumbled across the same racial claim as William Henry Harrison Jr.’s made by MIT bachelor’s degree candidate Robin Patricia Scott in her thesis on June 2, 1986, entitled  “Being Black and Female: An Analysis of Literature by Zora Neale Hurston and Jessie Redmon Fauset” and dismissed it out of hand for the same reasons listed previously. Inspection of the document shows that Winifred Virginia Jordan’s (Jackson) poems appeared in 4 separate issues of “The Crisis” and this was the source of this incorrect information. Winifred’s name appears in the Appendix of the thesis which contains a list of female authors who published in “The Crisis”. Regarding these authors,  the author of the thesis, Ms. Scott, writes “I have placed stars next to the names of women who I know are black “, but she never reveals how, in 1986, she knew that. (Winifred's name has a star.) Could she have read William Henry Harrison, Jr.’s book which was incorrect about WVJ? Apparently not, for Mr. Harrison’s book is not listed in the bibliography. However, Zora Hurston and Jessie Fauset, who were both contemporaneous with Ms. Jackson, died in 1960 and 1961, respectively, but theoretically could have left a record of whom they recalled as being black. Three of Winifred’s poems were published in “The Crisis” in 1920, and the 4th in 1921. The work of Hurston appeared in 1925-27 and Fauset’s in 1919-1923, plus Fauset was literary editor of both the “The Crisis” and “The Brownies Book” during the time of publication of Winifred’s 9 poems. So Fauset would be the more likely source of the story that WVJ was black.

If one looks into WVJ’s family genealogy, one can see that she has one of the most lily-white backgrounds one can imagine, although it is not impossible for her to have had some racial mix. All four of her grandparents were censused as being white. I did not even try to investigate her great grandparents. So hypothetically, if just one of her 8 great grandparents was black (or if one of her 4 grandparents was half black, passing as white), she would be 12.5% black (an octoroon).  She herself always listed herself as white, and you can see the photographs in this document in which she appears to be white. Clearly, the weight of the evidence is on the side of white, not black. Thus it is time to set the record straight on this matter and disregard it forevermore.

Her life story indicates that she was comfortable in black literary society and she likely did have an affair with her business partner, Mr. Braithewaite.  That is all. These stories about her and 2nd husband Horace, I repeat, are probably a result of her poems frequently being published in black periodicals and her alleged affair with Braithewaite, a man of mixed race.

In 1922, she and William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite started B.J. Brimmer Company, a publishing house which bankrupted in 1927-1929. One of her duties at the time was that she was treasurer and I’m sure an editor as well. This publishing house published the aforementioned Backroads: Maine Narratives, With Lyrics, in 1927. She had prior publishing and editing experience in 1919 with the publication/editing of “The Bonnet.”

In 1944, Selected Poems by Winifred Virginia Jackson and Ralph Temple Jackson was copyrighted and published on May 3, 1944. This was the 2nd and last of her two books. This “book” is only 10 pages, contains 7 poems, of which 4 are WVJ’s, and are reproduced herein. No bios or photos. These 4 poems show that her poetry muse still had not left her, although it was apparently not nearly as productive.Winifred is listed as the co-author, but it appears as though Ralph Dighton Jackson of Boston, daughter of Ralph Temple Jackson (Winifred’s brother and architect by trade) was the compiler. Winifred was around 68 years old in ’44.

Most of our knowledge of her comes from what I call her “Lovecraft Period” of 1915 to 1921, and the “Braithwaite Period” of 1922-~1927. William Stanley Braithwaite was a well known critic, anthologist, and writer. Braithwaite was married in 1903 and had 7 children.  Lovecraft was impressed with her as a writer and always was complimentary about her poetic contributions submitted under her name Winifred Virginia Jordan while being married to Horace Jordan, and then afterward for about a year through 1920 under her maiden name, Jackson. As to her main body of work, it appears to have been published between 1915 and 1930 in several soft copy pulp literary magazines.  In 1930 she published “The Slip Up”. This is a short story (i.e. prose), and is only one of two that she had published. She did, however, collaborate with HP Lovecraft on two of his horror stories entitled “The Green Meadow” and “The Crawling Chaos”, plus she was given credit by Lovecraft for a short story, “The Unknown” under the pseudonym “Elizabeth Neville Berkeley”, which it is believed that he himself wrote based on a dream of hers. After 1930, she had a few poems published which I did not see in the earlier anthologies which indicates that she still wrote some poetry on occasion.

Here is another thing we know about Winifred. Some people say that a woman’s prerogative is to change her mind, but a lesser prerogative could be to lie about her age. Winifred Virginia Jackson lied a lot about her age. What follows is a list of date events which required a person to state his/her true age. Her true chronological age (calculated from her 1876 birth year) is also listed. One can only speculate on what age, if any, she provided to HPL in her “Lovecraft Period” of ~1915 to 1921. After all, she was 14 years older than he was.

Event                            Stated Age                    True Age
1900 census                  21                                24
1902 marriage               22                                26
1910 census                  27                                34
1913 marriage               29                                37
1920 census                  28                                44
1930 census                  38                                54

Because her poems were published in an assortment of different literary magazines, it is hard to get a complete grasp on her body of work, but it is considered to be large. Unfortunately, most were published in soft cover pulp literary magazines which throughout the pulp era (~1890-1950) were considered beneath the attention of most libraries, universities, and bookstores; some of the issues certainly have not lasted into modern times. Those that do survive can sell for $20 on up to several hundred dollars. This scattering and surviving rarity makes it appear as though she wrote many fewer poems than she actually did write. Her surviving descendants might have a collection of her work, but who knows? She never had children, and her niece, Ralph Dighton Jackson, who was interested in publishing  poetry and short stories and also ran poetry workshops, never had any either, but there are other relatives around who still might have a big collection of her output.

I am not a poetry critic, but I do like her poems. It is hoped that this collection of her work will show people that Winifred Virginia Jackson, whose only modern claim to fame is her contact with the great HP Lovecraft, deserves to be recognized as a significant talent on her own.








Ralph and Winifred Jackson,
3rd row back, Great Pond School, 
September, 1893















Part II.  Winifred Virginia Jackson  TIMELINE

1876- Birth- 3/3/1876 in Great Pond, Maine. It was founded in the early 1800’s by Joshua Williams, Winifred Jackson’s great great grandfather. It was a lumbering town. In 2010, it had a population of 58.

~1879- Older brother Guy Jackson, b. 1871-1874, dies.  Winifred is about 3 yrs old.

1880- Census—Jackson family living with wife Myra’s parents: Asa Williams and Direxa Williams in Great Pond, Maine. Asa and Direxa have their 6 unmarried children there, 2 boarders, and the 4 member Jackson family for a total of 14.

1893- Attends Great Pond School with brother Ralph. School roster lists her as “Winie Jackson.”

1893-1895- Sometime during this interval, Winifred moves to Boston while “in her teens”. After the relocation to Boston, she attends the School of Expression, now known as Curry College, on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston and also Eastern State Normal School. Unknown if graduated.

Pre-1899-Parents Myra Williams and John Kingsbury Jackson divorce. In 1899, he marries a woman 23 years younger and moves to New Hampshire.

1900- Census—Works as a stenographer while as a lodger in Northfield, Massachusetts. Northfield is 80 miles from Boston.

1902- 1st marriage --on June 21, 1902 to Frank M. Lemmon (1869-1948) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He lists his name as “Le Monn”, although his brothers use “Lemmon”.  He is a salesman. She lists her occupation as a stenographer. She lives in Boston.

1902-1910- Travels and lives in various USA locales including Seattle, Midwest, New Orleans, Aiken, S.C., and Norfolk, VA.  She claims to have studied music, singing, and dancing.


1910- Starts writing poetry in California.

1910, April- Back living in Suffok County, MA (Boston and surrounds) with mother Myra. Census shows her using married name of LeMonn.

1911 estimated- Divorce from Frank M. Le Monn.  No record found. Between 1911-1913, begins re-using maiden name of Jackson.

1913- 2nd marriage-- to Horace Wheeler Jordan on August 14, 1913.  Between 1913-1921, while using last name of Jordan, investigates possible land reward to Joshua Williams, her great grandfather, as appreciation for his revolutionary war service.

1915- Father Kingsbury Jackson dies in New Hampshire at age 70.

1915- Begins frequenting same literary circles as HP Lovecraft. Both have contributions published in “Dowdell’s Bearcat”, a pulp journal, Dec, 1915 issue. This association lasts until late 1921. Begins having some of her poems published in pulp magazines and newspapers.

1915- 1st husband Frank M. Le Monn convicted of swindling and conspiracy and sentenced to 1 year and 10 days in the penitentiary. Case receives national news coverage, and was about selling fraudulent stock in the United States Cashier Company, a company started in 1902 and headquartered in Portland, OR, where he was sales manager. He was the only defendant of several who had fled arrest and was apprehended in Toledo, Ohio, after a pursuit over half the country. He allegedly profited $90k from the scheme.

1919- Living in Boston area (Newton, MA), with husband Horace W. Jordan and mother Myra.

1919, June- Edits and publishes “The Bonnet”, vol. 1,  as Winifred Virginia Jordan, 12 pages, which contains two of her poems and two unsigned contributions from H.P. Lovecraft.

~1919- Divorce from Horace W. Jordan. No record found. Begins re-using maiden name of Jackson in 1920.

1920- Jan 16- Census—Works as a stenographer in Boston area. Lives with her mother and uses the name of Jordan, but is listed as “single.”

1920-1921- Enjoys her period of greatest celebrity and recognition as a poet, with at least 4 separate articles written about her in various publications. Four found articles are reproduced herein.

1921- Last known contact with HP Lovecraft late in this year. In a 1921 article contained herein, claims to have been advised by a critic more than 4 years prior to stop throwing her poems away.

1922- Lives in Boston with mother Myra Williams Jackson. Occupation:”writer”.

1922- Becomes a co-founder of BJ Brimmer Company with William Stanley Beaumont Braithewaite. He apparently is the driving force of this new publishing  company while she serves as part owner, an editor, and treasurer. Becomes full owner in 1925 in a period of financial difficulty for the company.  The company specialized in publishing poetry anthologies, in which many of her poems appear.

1924- Living in Boston area.

1927- BJ Brimmer Company publishes Backroads: Maine Narratives, with Lyrics, the first of two books published by her as an author in her lifetime.

1927- BJ Brimmer Company goes bankrupt, although one source says it may have remained viable until as late as 1929.

1928- WVJ still working as Treasurer of BJ Brimmer in 1928. Lives in Boston with mother Myra.

1930- Has two pulp magazine short stories published:  “A Girl to her Mirror” in All Story in February, 1930, and “The Slip-Up” in “Young’s Magazine and Snappy Stories” in May, 1930.  Censused as a renter living in Winthrop, MA, a Boston suburb, with her mother and lists occupation as “book writer”.

1932- Winifred wins first place and $25 in the Tony Wons poetry contest for "Let Us Dream Again". Award presented at the RKO Keith-Boston Theater and read on nationwide radio. Still living in Winthrop, MA, as she has since 1930.

1938- Mother Myra Evelyn Williams Jackson dies. Winifred is living in Boston.

1944- In May, a poetry book entitled Selected Poems by W. V. Jackson and Ralph Temple Jackson is published in Boston by her niece named Ralph Dighton Jackson. Ralph Dighton Jackson is the daughter of WVJ’s brother, Ralph Temple C. Jackson.  This is the 2nd and last of WVJ’s two published books.

1944-1954- Lives at 85 Tyndale, a duplex in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston, about 4.3 miles away from brother Ralph and family. Works as a secretary at age 68 in 1944.

1949, 1950, and 1956- A few of her poems whose titles were not in the early anthologies are published in newspapers, which suggests that she still was authoring new poems, at least occasionally.

 4/19/1959- Deceased.  While living at 6 Bellevue St. in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston as she had since at least 1957, Winifred Virginia Jackson was admitted to Boston City Hospital on 4/13/1959. Six days later on April 19, 1959, at 4 AM, she died of “bronchopneumonia with abscess formation”, a condition which her autopsy claimed she had had for weeks. She also had “hypertensive arteriosclerotic  heart disease” and a “gastric ulcer”, and both of these conditions she had had for years and months, respectively, although not the immediate cause of death. Her death age is given as 81 years, 1 month, and 16 days which would indicate she was born on 3/3/1878 (but we know from the 1880 census that she was born a couple of years before that, with common consensus giving her actual birth date as March 3, 1876. Thus she died at age 83.) Her “usual occupation” is listed as “librarian”, but from her timeline you can determine that it really was secretary/stenographer, with a 5 year period of being treasurer at BJ Brimmer Publishing Company and an editor at various early jobs.  Curiously, she is shown to have no social security, although SS started in 1935 and she worked at legitimate jobs for quite a few years after that date. Information to fill out her death certificate was supplied by Hiram J. Archer who lived at Suffolk University in Boston, and whose brother, Gleason Archer, founded that university in 1906. Their mother was Frances Williams. The Archers were from Great Pond, Maine, as was Winifred whose mother was Myra Williams, and they were distant cousins of hers. They were childhood friends. Great Pond had and still has many Williams families.

Interment:  Buried in Manomet Cemetery in Plymouth, Massachusetts  in burial plot 6B owned by Eugene B. Holmes, and occupied by him (d. 1955), his wife (d. 1940), and WVJ (d. 1959).  No other Jackson’s are in this cemetery.  Census records indicate that Holmes lived and worked in Boston, as did WVJ for most of her life. Both Holmes and Winifred Virginia Jackson once lived at the same address, 85 Tyndale, Roslindale neighborhood of Boston, at the same time. 85 Tyndale is a duplex, so it could mean that they were neighbors. Holmes lived there from 1952-1955, and she lived there from 1951-1954.












Part III.  Recovered Articles about Winifred Virginia Jackson

The following articles supply additional insight into the character and appearance of Winifred Virginia (Jordan) Jackson. They are presented in the time order in which they were written. In some cases, the newspaper copies were so difficult to read that I had to transcribe them.

The 1st article is the longest and was written while Virginia was still using the last name of Jordan. Notice that he refers to her as ‘Virginia’, but throughout her career, others including herself, meticulously refer to her as ‘Winifred Virginia.’ Perhaps as a child, her family called her ‘Virginia’? (But notice in the 1893 Great Pond School roster that she is listed as “Winie”.)

The 2nd article’s author, B.J.R. Milne, had his article appear in the Boston Sunday Post on 1/30/1921, and it is entitled ‘“Spirit” Voice Dictates Poetry.’

The 3rd article is from the “Hub Club Quill”, June, 1921 issue. It is by Michael White. It is entitled ‘The Poetry of Winifred V. Jackson’ published June, 1921.

The 4th article is from the Boston Herald, Dec. 18,1921, entitled ‘Her Verse Wins Critics’ Praise.'






“The Girl Who Ran Away” by Bernard Lynch, “National Magazine” 3/1920 to 3/1921

Interview with Winifred Virginia Jordan by Bernard Lynch

“Vir-gin-ia! Vir-gin-ia! I say, where are you?”

Lay aside the cares that beset you, and come with me, folks, where are peace and contentment at the trail’s end. All ye, heart weary, despair not—I have found the true Arcadia. Draw on “Seven-League” boots and step across into the Valley of Enchantment.


This is the journey’s end, so “set” you down and rejoice in the warmth of sunshine that puts laughter in your soul. Now grim legacies of years take flight, as in your ears ring the melody of the Headwaters of Union River, while from “way up yonder” comes the drone of lumberjacks’ songs. For you a welcome is painted in glowing colors. Freedom—limitless Freedom of the wilderness is yours. Attuned heart and soul, to the spirit that invests the open places, you’re sitting, friends, in the scene of the Story’s Prologue.

From the quaint sign-post at the crossroads you learn that this is “Township 31—Part of Old Bingham Purchase—Maine.” Down the road a piece, half hidden by foliage, you trace the outline of an old-fashioned farmhouse. Framed by its vine-clad doorway stands that emblem of universal love and reverence—a mother. Her anxious cry echoes from other days: “Vir-gin-ia! Vir-gin-ia! I say, where are you?” From the hills the call is echoed—then comes silence, and you guess the truth. Wee Virginia, she of the golden curs and china blue eyes, has “vamoosed” again.

In the record once kept by those who tried to rule the willful child we read that each day, after rocking dolly to sleep and feeding a pet rooster, Virginia’s curly head would droop thoughtfully while she gazed with longing off to where the hills rose up to kiss the clouds. Each day eyes, wide and anxious, trace the wagon ruts that marked the road until it faded from view. Every one whom she knew to have attained fame had traveled this road; everything that delighted childish fancy had come from beyond that sky line of hills.

Imagination thrives best in the open places, and Wanderlust is the heritage of those born in the shadow of the wilderness. In fairness to Virginia we must be indulgent, but—Those who ruled the “mansion” were living in a state known as wits’ end.

Dissuasion in the form of tales of bogies dampened not the ardor of the little wanderer. Even stone bruises were to her but proud trophies of the romance of getting somewhere! Virginia, being too frail for chains, and too genteel to be subjected to the indignity of imprisonment in the garret, the parents compromised upon an honorable plan.

So came the day when once more the little gypsy tucked her waxen prototype in bed, supplied plenty of eats to the overfed rooster, and streaked it for the hills—for the home of an aunt eight miles distant. We purposely omit the details of that perilous journey. Enough to record that at sundown the little traveler arrived, footsore and wary, her gingham frock as mass of tatters, her curls wildly disheveled, but through the tear stans and black smooches a brave smiley shining.

Auntie made the welcome royal. Delicacies reserved for great occasions were brought forth, and between application of soap and water nods of approval greeted the story of the Gypsy Queen’s hazardous journey through her dominion. Virginia enjoyed it like a heroine, and in time fell asleep. Alas, dreams of happiness can have rude awakenings. Just as Virginia achieved the heights she was shaken and told to “Get up.” She rubbed her eyes. Had the goblins come? No, it was only Pa, Ma, and Aunty, but their glances plainly evidenced disapproval. Without ceremony they gathered her up, carried her to the door, and said “Look!” As Virginia looked she saw her Pa, his face wearing a grim expression never there before. He was unloading a doll trunk and doll from the wagon. With these had come other things—all ready for delivery—all her own property.

“Why, Mumsey,” she asked timidly. “Why is Pa bringing my playthings here?”

“Because,” came the serious spoken reply, “you are going to stay here and never go home again.”
“Never go home again,” she repeated, wistfully.

Then came realization of the fearful possibilities of the penalty—evidenced by big tears and convulsive sobs. “Mumsy, Mumsy,” she faltered, “take me home. Honest and true. Mumsey, I’ll never run away again.”

There was something more than was just “plain human” the plea for pity, in the pathos of the tattered figure, in the tear-wet eyes. Ma and Pa saw it and quickly gathered their little one in a fond, forgiving embrace.

Again the scene is the road, deep furrowed, winding back to the Valley of Enchantment. Majestically occupying her doll-trunk throne sits the little Queen of All-Out-Doors; in her arms she holds the great Doll image of herself, around her are grouped the “things” of her own belonging. She is being borne, in triumph. Home. Here, friends, we draw the curtain on the prologue.


We take a giant step across the interval of years, and as we read of those to recently acquire literary fame, into the name—Winifred Virginia Jordan. Yes, our Virginia, grown up, perhaps richer in worldly wisdom but at heart the same Virginia, and “still traveling.” Over in New York a publisher highly respected for judgment, is arranging for a book on Miss Jordan’s poems, selections from her many magazine contributions.

Editors, with finger-tips on the pulse-beat of public opinion, are willing to satisfy that public’s demand for “more,” because they think that in her verse they have found that quality that lives. Realizing the strong thread of “human interest” in the character that achieves fame, I accepted with pleasure the editor’s request to “get an interview.”

The address, 20 Webster Street, Allston, had been on a number of manuscripts eventually published in the NATIONAL. I knew the place. I felt that, from reading her work, I should know the writer. But many mishaps con overtake a truant fancy. Celebrities, I had reasoned on the journey out, were merely another species of sheep. The flock might be small and the pasture exclusive, but—sheep after all, were—sheep!

So I was not breathless nor palpitating as I rang the bell, prepared to meet a tortoise-rimmed “intellectual.”

“Miss Jordan?” I inquired from the smiling vision who opened the portal.

“ That’s me,” was the cheering response.

“Pardon,” I entreated,“ I wish to see Miss Jordan—the writer—Miss Winifred Virginia Jordan.”

“I am Winifred Virginia Jordan,” came the softly-spoken assurance.

Right here, had I worn glasses, I would have considered it time to take ‘em off and remove the rose-tinted lens. Being as how my eyes are cold, cautious, and the sort that rarely fail in showing things as they really are, I quickly recovered my lost composure.

“I regret having seemed to doubt you, Miss Jordan,” I offered, “it seems I have taken too much—or too little—for granted. Are you willing to receive a visit from the NATIONAL?”

“Of course,” she answered with delightful promptness. “Come right in and make yourself at home. I have reason to be grateful to the NATIONAL. ‘Set’ you down in this comfy chair, light one of the cigarettes now concealed in your pocket, and listen while I tell you why you doubted.

“If folks persist in calling my work psychic,” she continued, “I’m a=going to start right now and live up to the reputation.”

Reaching for my cigarettes, I puffed rapidly to create a smoke screen that should conceal my amazement.

“You come,” said the voice in the haze, “as others have done, with a look of wonder on your face. Why? You expect to find a somber bee, when there is but a care-free butterfly. As you paused at the door, you found it difficult to reconcile a brass head, a pink complexion, blue eyes and a Sunny-Jim smile with aught that is literary. For the moment I reminded you of others you have met—the dizzy soubrette of the wiggly chorus and the lady who adorns the tooth paste ads with her engaging smile. Then you quickly changed you opinion, and was ready to apologize for such thinking.  Since when, after retreating behind your smoke curtain, you have decided to start all over again. Well, I’m not blaming you. They’re all like you--at first.”

I sat straight, took a firmer grip on my idle pencil, and stared astonishment. Then, as if she had willed silence, I waited while her glance traveled to the window and over the autumn foliage, perhaps to find a new image in the wondrous weavings of brown and gold. Knowing no photo would do her justice, I took advantage of the lull, and wrote: Blond, beautiful and real, rare as her own creations, and equally as wonderful, are the heavy coils of hair circling a small and graceful head. A veritable crown of glory it is, with lights upon it that quicken the imagination and play tricks with the fancy, as it radiates changing glows of burnished bronze, rose-hue and gold. Yes, hair capable of making any man romantic and any woman envious. Nose, a wee bit retrouss√©; carmine lips that reveal teeth even beautiful and white; skin like alabaster with shell pink tinting, eyes indeed blue and bonnie. Tall, graceful, with quiet dignity in every movement, a figure whose lines are marked with almost breathless precision. Good, very good to look at.

Young, quite young for one to wear the crown of literary achievement, with a vivaciousness that ever and anon proves evanescent, overcome by serious moments Spirituelle and—oh, just the living likeness of the heroine of a million dramas and a billion books of fiction.

“Your lumberjack poems are much admired for realism,” I remarked, since her eyes again invited me to speak. “The inspiration for them—“

“Came from the voice that whispers words in melodies in my ear. The messages—call them inspired if you will—are written as received, without revision. I am only the medium through which they find the light.

“But,” she added reminiscently, “you must let me follow the read back to a little village of twenty-one houses, settled in 1811. Father was a lumberman, everyone was either that or a farmer. All around lay the wilderness, the nearest neighbor was a mile distant. In a corner of the little old red schoolhouse I, at the age of two, occupied a wee chair. I see Pa’s hound dogs and the bear he chained to a chimney in the cap store house. I’m being taught Pa’s first lesson—how to shoot  a Winchester.
I being so tiny, he made a ‘contraption’ to rest it on. Days, short as hours, are crowded with thrills. I’m camping, fishing, canoeing on Jo Merry Lakes; tramping the big woods, always roaming, and always in my ears, always, ‘Vir-gin-ia! I say, where are you?’

“Lazily busses the cant-dog saw mill, loudly pound the logs on the river, resonant are the voices of the loggers, their sunshine and shadow are mine, too. Night glowing camp fires, their witchery heightened by a gypsy circle spinning fictitious truths. And, when the heart warmed, and the soul developed, songs of yearning came freighted with the fragrance of romance—reaching you with the incense of burning logs of pine and hemlock. No, it is not strange. The voice that whispers knew me then.”

The eyes were eloquent as she completed the picture, wherein could be traced “Driftwood and Fire,” “Ellsworth to Great Pond,” “The Song of Johnny Laughlin,” “Larry Gorman, Singer,” and “Joe,”—her poems of woods and lumber-jacks.

Then,--the voice soft, the eyes wistful—“To you, perhaps a simple setting, without appear. To me—home.”

“There were days of disappointment,” I suggested.

“Many filled with longing—only one of disappointment.”

“And that?”

“Was when a good-for-nothing neighbor found me on the trail to the fishing hole and out of sheer cussedness stuffed my mouth with wiggling worms.

“I cried—cried until I reached home. That night I lay awake dreaming of vengeance.”
As she spoke there crept into her eyes a fire, her chin was firm set, her face looked grim, and living agin in spirit were her illustrious ancestors, General David Cobb, Dorcass Cobb, John Rogers of Sudbury and Thomas Cobb----the lien extending back to those sturdy pilgrims who came, fought, and conquered.

“Next day,” she continued, “I borrowed Pa’s shotgun and the ‘contraption.’ Arrived at the same place on the trail to the fishing hole, I set both in position and then, with my finger where it could easily touch the trigger, I waited.

“That mean man proved meaner still. He did not pass that way again, the vigil kept up until the sun went down. That was my day of disappointment!”

Though fascinated, I could remain no longer. Summing up I wrote, Complex of character, with moods and vagaries as difficult to analyze as her work. An impressive personality, not easy to forget, and in which are mingled the sparkling shallows of simplicity and great depths of philosophy. Withal, delightfully refreshing, charming in manner, and true to her ideals. The little, whimsical smile returned as I arose to say good-bye. She bowed her adieu with such elegance of grace that I felt as if taking leave of an old friend—on whom I had known ages ago.

Back at the office I recall that the name—Winifred Virginia Jordan—was more than a euphony that haunted. It was associated with big things.  As one famous critic had phrased: “The author of these poems has escaped the contagion of the times and has been gifted with a power of song whose type is in a measure absolutely unique.  If, as we have abundant reason to believe, the function of true poesy be to wake the fancy and delight the imagination with a combination of sense and sound well adjusted in delicate harmony, then we have reason to look upon Miss Jordan as one whose claim to the title of poet is more than ordinarily strong and merited.  Lyric beauty and harmony of exquisite development pervade her poetry, while the heavy commonplaces of the average versifier are notably absent.”



Caption under picture: "Winifred Virginia Jackson of Allston whose poems almost write themselves in a mysterious way."

 “Spirit“ Voice Dictates Poetry” by B.J.R. Milne

Jan 30, 1920, Boston Sunday Post

Is this a “Fairy-Led” poet? Who can answer?

Winifred Virginia Jackson of Allston writes poetry as it never has been written before.
In fact, in one sense, she doesn’t write it. She just takes it from dictation. Who dictates it to her? Nobody.  And yet, she doesn’t think of the verses herself. She hears them—actually hears them. It is as if a voice lived in her brain, and recited the entire poem to her, beginning with a bare title that meant nothing to the writer and rattling off the verses stanza after stanza—sometimes so fast that it’s all her pencil can do to keep up with the words!

“Is it fairies?” I asked her. It’s hard to think of an absolute abstract being responsible for an action, and, while only imaginative people now believe in fairies—more’s the pity!—they have some sort of substance in them. At least, it’s far easier to picture a fairy talking to you, than to hear it from Mr.  Nobody. 

“Fairies?- - - -Why----why---I’m sure I don’t know. I’d never thought of it that way.” Miss Jackson seemed much bewildered. She wanted to tell me just what she thought was what, but it was difficult to explain.

She went on: “The voice just tells it all to me. Take “The Fight,” for instance. It started that way. The voice said “The Fight.” So I wrote the words down. And then, quickly, smoothly,  came the story of Larry and Mike of the lumber camps.”

To give an idea of that rough-and-ready verse, I’ll quote a bit from “The Fight”:

An’ Mike were gittin’ groggy,
But he pounded like a bull!
An’ we could see that Larry
Ware a-hevin’ quite a pull!

The he backed and broke guard steady,
(Hell! But Larry looked damned raw!)
An’ on his whole weight drawin’
Up an’ landed on Mike’s jaw!

“Her poems of the lumber jacks are ??? that—rough, rollicking. Some are reminiscent of service, some are chantees, with a music loved by the hewers of wood in the Maine forests. For Miss Jackson comes from Maine. Her father was a lumberman.

Early Became Crack Shot

As a girl she lived on a farm a mile from her nearest neighbor. She went to the “little red schoolhouse” which every country lad and lassie knows. Her first recollection is of “hound dogs” and of a bear chained to a chimney in a large shed where flour, grain and ??? things were stored for use in the lumber camps.

“The first thing my father taught me,” She smiled, “was how to shoot a Winchester rifle. Since I was too young to hold a rifle, he made a “contraption” for me to rest the rifle on.”

Which made her think of the one day of almost unbearable disappointment. She laughed and made a faint grimace. “Once a good-for-nothing neighbor found me on the trail to the fishing hole and out of sheer cussedness, stuffed my mouth with wriggly worms. . . “

“Nasty!” I commented. “What did you do about it?”

“I cried—cried until I reached home. That night I lay awake dreaming of vengeance.”

You can imagine the determination of which Miss Jackson is capable. She is a direct descendant of Frances Dighton Williams, wife of Richard Williams who was a relative of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island. She is also a direct blood descendant of Oliver Cromwell, England’s liberator, whose great-grandfather was another earlier Richard Williams, who changed his name to Cromwell in order to inherit an estate. In her there is the spirit of Thomas Rogers, of Dorcas Cobb and General David Cobb, first agent of Maine of the Great Bingham Purchase.

No Man Came to Shoot

“Next day,” she said, “I borrowed pa’s shotgun and the “contraption.” Then I went up to the same place on the trail to the fishing hole and set up my artillery. I kept my finger very near the trigger.
“That mean man was even meaner still. He didn’t come, and I hadn’t the chance to shoot him. That was my day of disappointment.”

I can’t say that Miss Jackson struck me as being a young lady homesick for Maine, but the Voice at least must have been “homin’” for the banks of the Guagus when it dictated this verse to her:

I wish, oh, I wish I was back home again!
I’d jump for my turn at the plow;
I’d rake up the hay with a hip-hip-hooray
And I’d fork it away in the snow!
And if, as I wish, I was back home again,
“Tis never again would I roam!
I’d care not one jot for an ????b’s fine lot—
For there ain’t nothin’ nowhere like home!

And herself? Let’s have her own description of herself first: “.  .   . A brass head, a pink complexion, blue eyes, and a Sunny Jim smile.  .  .  .the dizzy soubrette of the wiggly chorus.  .  .  .the lady who adorns the toothpaste ads.”

At least, that’s how she believes other people see her.


Is a Beautiful Girl

She’s beautiful. I think even a critic of poetry would agree upon that point. Her head is burdened—a harsh word, perhaps—with a mass of bronzy-gold hair. That’s why she calls it “brass.” Her complexion is pink, as she says, though an artist would not use such a flat statement. As for her smile, very likely it is a Sunny Jim smile, as she says, but I don’t know what s Sunny Jim smile is like. I’d call it, rather , a dubious, uncertain smile—a smile that told you she had a great deal to say to you, but that she didn’t know just how or where to begin.

But, really, the only way to tell what she writes is to quote from her writings. And always this point should be born in mind—the Voice—the Voice that first spoke the lines.  .  .  .

I called and called unto the world.
I, Caza, the Dancer;
But not a breath of music stirred
In answer!

And then I heard a pretty tune
All joy???? and laughter,
But I had grown too old to dance
On after!

Can you believe that last summer, while in Maine, Miss Jackson wrote 49 poems in three days, at three sittings? It is all but unbelievable! And yet she told me so, quite naively. There was absolutely no reason for exaggeration. A poet is not judged by the number of poems produced in a given time. There are few poets today who would date to confess such a prodigious output. Critics call them mere mechanics.

Why she Uses Pencil

But, Miss Jackson reminded me, “It wasn’t I who really was responsible for the verses.” The Voice.  .  .  .  Her pencil worked fast those three days. “I can’t use a typewriter except to transcribe my handwriting, because the noise deafens the Voice.”

And in those few weeks spent in Maine, she wrote 96 poems. “The Mirror” is an example of the mystic in her work.

Last night I looked into my mirror;
I dare not look again;
I dare not see my heart so sick
And ghastly gray with pain!

I cannot look into my mirror,
For there my heart looks out
Its deathbed where it weeps and writhes,
But cannot turn about!

Truly, her range is a sweeping arc.  .  .  .  .His styles or moods—whatever the-man-who-knows would call them. Cold she attain such broad vision without the Voice?


THE HUB CLUB QUILL, Vol. XIII, June, 1921, No. 2.

The Poets of Amateur Journalism

The Poetry of Winifred V. Jackson

Bliss Carman, in a beautiful poem, published some years ago, and extensively quoted in this country and in Europe, treats April, seemingly the favorite month of the poets, partly as follows:

With the sunlight on her brow,
And her veil of silver showers
April, o’er New England now
Trails her robe of woodland flowers.

Nobody can deny the haunting magic of these lines, and yet, April, with the “sunlight on her brow,” wearing a “veil of silver showers” and trailing her “robe” of “flowers,” are pictures that have been used many times before and since Mr. Carman was born, Miss Winifred Jackson, too treats of April in her best and most characteristic vein when she says:

I would out to April weather;
To the sunlands in her train,
Laughing, while the sunbeams tether
Up the yellow wraiths of rain.

We realize perfectly that in putting these two extracts before our readers we are comparing a poet, recognized almost universally, as a rare genius of song, with one practically unknown in the literary history of our day. Yet, who can deny the strong outlines, the startling boldness of conception , and the easy grace and flow of Miss Jackson’s lines? The very spirit of April in in her touch.—the alternate sun and shower, the big, bounding elastic delight of the open field, and then masterly stroke of genius contained in the last two lines,--bold, original and vivid as a flash.

It has been said in the professional press that a “spirit voice” dictates to Miss Jackson the poems she writes,--that she is merely the instrument that gives out the unconscious melody. This analysis is not even half true. The “spirit” that possesses her at such times is the same “spirit” that inspired Shelley when he wrote the Skylark, Keats when he gave the world his ode to a Grecian Urn, Byron when he conceived that magnificent Fourth Canto of Childe Harold,-- the same delusive  and indefinable ”spirit” that inspired Wagner when he wrote the Pilgrim’s Chorus; the same “voice” that Guided the hand of Raphael, or moved the chisels of Phidias or Praxiteles. It is the old old story of mere mortal trying to bring down to the level of a common understanding the promptings of genius.

In ordinary occasions when we are told by “poets” that a “spirit voice” prompts their writings, as a mere natural precaution of self-preservation we try to move away to a safe distance before he or she insists on reading them. But we are surprised to find, despite the alleged “spirit voices,” that Miss Jackson’s poetry owes not a little to art. Some of her poems are masterpieces in plan and design. If a “spirit voice” ever dictated a poem it would be “without form and void,” it would have neither beginning, middle nor conclusion, and it may fairly be asserted that there is not one solitary instance in all literary history where the words did not come from the conscious or subconscious inspiration of the writer.

Miss Jackson’s rare gift consists in seeing pictures, beautiful, illuminating, and startling, where nothing is visible to the ordinary vision. Her poems are often mere fragments, seemingly broken and incomplete, yet withal revealing an insight, a vision, reprinted from the “Boston Transcript” in the Bonnet, some time ago reveals her at her best as a poet and an artist. Her them, too, is admirably chosen as giving her fancy freedom and scope, and her treatment of the subject is superb. We have space only for one verse. The spirit in the sea-shell asks the listener to put her ear to its heart and “listen well”--

And hear that little summer breeze
That soothes the work-worn wings of bees;
The chimney’s song on winter’s night,
The fire’s delight,
The owlet’s tune
In moon-mad June,
The whirl and whir of Things that BE
From tiny acorn to the tree.

Miss Jackson’s poetry is essentially the poetry of inspiration. The painful process of elaboration and elimination are things that do not trouble her. There is visible in her poetry no straining for strong lines, no fashioning words on the basic thought of another, no painful alliteration for polished phrases. What she partly gives and partly withholds is herself. Her symbols,--for her Muse at its best is purely symbolic,--originates in her subconscious experiences of life in its many moods,--sad sometimes, gay often, or wild with the thoughtless abandon of a child. She is never so philosophic as when she throws philosophy to the winds. The lullaby of the murmuring waves; the dense wood transformed by the magic of moonlight into a fairyland; the scurrying cloud across a purple sky; the sighing of the wind among the trees; the perfume of leafy June;--these are her themes, but deeper than these, is the half concealed and half articulate sadness—the eternal sadness of genius, struggling for, and denied expression. We say “denied” advisedly, for Miss Jackson has not yet come into her own. Her poetry is great less in performance than in the promise. She has written mostly of external things; in a few pieces—lines—mere glimpses we get, it is true, of the poet, and these are invariably her best.

Sometimes Miss Jackson, prompted by some inexplicable urging, produces what may, for a better name, be described as a “silver lining” poem. Cults, magazines, and even religions in our day have been devoted to produce a perfect world by the mechanical smile, the glad hand, and the stereotyped advice to ignore the shadows of life, to forget trouble, and to cry sunshine when there is no sunshine. Of course the whole performance is artificial, stunted and untrue. It has never inspired a great poem and never shall. Writers of genius have essayed the glad tidings and have signally failed, and of course Miss Jackson could not be expected to succeed where success is a poetic sense is impossible.
We are not privileged to touch on the professional aspect of Miss Jackson’s work. Her first poems appeared in amateur papers and to the credit of some of our best critics she was at once recognized as a poetic genius. She is young in years and is devoted to her art. She is wide read and has acquired a philosophy of life. She has already attracted the attention of professional critics and another decade should write high on the list of the poets of our day the name of Winifred Virginia Jackson.

                                                                                                MICHAEL WHITE







Part IV. Recovered Poems- Listed roughly in the order of their discovery




WINIFRED VIRGINIA JACKSON’S WORK



PUBLISHED AND FOUND



  1. Ellsworth to the Great Pond
  2. The Tricksy Tune
  3. Eyes
  4. Fear-Flame
  5. Black Aikens Lot
  6. And One Is Two?
  7. Brandy Pond
  8. Hoofin’ It
  9. Deafness
  10. Eves
  11. Dust Song
  12. Fear-Flame
  13. Earth Breaths
  14. Finality
  15. Hands
  16. Heritage
  17. A Witch’s Daughter and a Cobbler’s Son
  18. Monday, Wash-Day
  19. Makin’ Rhymes
  20. On Ellen Going Wrong
  21. On Meeting Father Goose
  22. Pitch O’ Pine Sonnets, 1,2, & 3
  23. Poor River Drivers
  24. Red Winds
  25. Scuffled Dust
  26. She Told Mary
  27. The Sin
  28. Threads
  29. Strange Paths
  30. Under-Currents
  31. Weights
  32. Wimin’s Work
  33. Sunrise at Cooper
  34. April
  35. April Shadows
  36. In April
  37. In Morven’s mead
  38. The Night Wind Bared My Heart
  39. On Shore
  40. Who Will Fare With Me?
  41. Galileo and Swammerdam
  42. Loneliness
  43. Values
  44. The Bonnet
  45. Driftwood and Fire
  46. Lady Summer
  47. The Musquash
  48. The Song of the Sea Shell
  49. Atavism
  50. Cross-Currents
  51. The Farewell
  52. Her First Party
  53. Bobby’s Wishes
  54. The Howl-Wind
  55. Baby Bluebird
  56. Fallen Fences
  57. Life’s Sunshine and Shadows
  58. The Northwest Corner
  59. The River of Life
  60. A Merchant from Arcady
  61. Waiting for Betty
  62. Haying (found in 1949 West Virginia newspaper)
  63. Fragment
  64. Fragment from The Fight
  65. Caza, the Dancer
  66. The Mirror
  67. The Purchase
  68. Brown Leaves
  69. The Cobbler in the Moon
  70. In Moreh’s Wood
  71. On Shore
  72. Fragment
  73. The Pool
  74. The Vagrant
  75. Sea-Winds
  76. Fragment
  77. Have You Met My Buddy?
  78. There’s a Way
  79. When the Woods Call
  80. Dora of Aurora
  81. A Lad o’ Sixty-one
  82. Something Back in April
  83. September (found in 1956 Boston Herald)
  84. Midnight at the Mill
  85. Tenants
  86. Nearing Winter
  87. I Knew a Tall Lad Once
  88. Smoke
  89. Mary, Queen of Scots
  90. Death Is a Moment
  91. Gray Man



PUBLISHED BUT NOT FOUND



  1. Workin’ Out
  2. The Token
  3. Assurance
  4. It’s Love Time
  5. The Song of Johnny Laughlin
  6. Larry Gorman, Singer
  7. The Call
  8. John Worthington Speaks
  9. Insomnia
  10. Contentment
  11. Song of the North Wind
  12. The Night Wind
  13. How Fares the Garden Rose
  14. List to the Sea
  15. To a Breeze
  16. Songs from Walpi
  17. The Duty
  18. Dear
  19. Absence
  20. Chores
  21. Faith
  22. Oh Where Is Springtime?
  23. The Singing Heart
  24. When the Sea Calls
  25. The Time of Peach Tree Bloom
  26. Oh Rose, Red Rose
  27. To England
  28. Be Tolerant
  29. Alley
  30. Lord Love You, Lad
  31. The Last Hour
  32. My Love’s Eyes
  33. Ole Gardens
  34. Longing
  35. The Death-Watch
  36. Love’s Magic
  37. I Have Tasted of the Waters
  38. Adoration
  39. The Mould Shade Speaks
  40. White Star of Love
  41. A Wind Waif
  42. The Rose of Friendship
  43. But There Is Love
  44. Days of Laughter
  45. Difference
  46. The Discontented Daisy
  47. Do You?
  48. Fog
  49. A Hope
  50. I Would Out to April Weather
  51. The Jester, Fate
  52. Joy
  53. The Lament of March
  54. Outdoors
  55. To a Decoy Duck
  56. To You
  57. What’s More
  58. Smile
  59. O’ Heart of Me
  60. Joe
  61. What More
  62. In the Shade
  63. Smiles
  64. The End
  65. Booey’s Wishes
  66. How Fares the Garden Rose?
  67. If You But Smile
  68. When You Went
  69. John’s Mary
  70. Quills
  71. In the Shade
  72. It’s Lovetime
  73. A Girl to Her Mirror (published 1930; short story)
  74. The Slip-Up (published 1930; short story)
  75. Let Us Dream Again (1932 poetry award)
  76. In a Garden


 



RECOVERED POEMS






             ELLSWORTH TO GREAT POND

             Drink hard cider, swig hard cider,
             Swill hard cider, Boys!
             Throw yer spikers, throw yer peavies,
             Beller out yer noise!
             Grub in Waltham, drink in Waltham,
             Slogger up an' down!
             Hide ye slat-faced, heathen Christians,
             K-J's crew's in town!
             Drink hard cider, swig hard cider,
             Whoop 'er up, O Boys!
             Hell' s own roarin', cant-dog sawmill
             Can't make half our noise!
             Sling yer spikers, sling yer peavies,
             Put yer head to use!
             K-J's waitin'! K- J's watchin'!
             King o' old K. Spruce!


THE TRICKSY TUNE

The Hired Man Speaks:
"He never spoke a civil word
To her; it was his rule
To snarl or shout; his best for her
Was 'Mooncalf, dolt an' fool!'
" The Story: The house was built back from the Road. ;
It stood there grim and gray
And silent, 'mid great aspen trees
That quivered night and day.
The Road was narrow; old stone walls
Arose on either side
Begrudging from the farm the land
The roadbed had to gride.
And she had lived with him and drudged
For over twenty years;
He drove her on, from harrowing
To breaking in the steers.
At first when she was called a fool,
A hurt look dulled her eyes,
And she would slip off by herself
And have her little cries.
But once he caught her; after that
She never dared to cry;
The days seemed all alike to her
That wearily went by.
And often, when he snarled and cursed,
She played a little game;
She tried to make believe that he
Had called her some sweet name.
Then one day came a tricksy tune
That hummed within her head;
In spite of all that she could do
It held the words he said.
She heard the song and shuddered at
Its "Fool, dolt, fool, dolt, fool!"
The while she gripped her hard, worn hands
And drabber looked and cool.
And this kept up for weeks ; she worked
With hope to still the song
By weariness ; it sometimes went away
But would not stay for long.
When evening came, he sat about
The kitchen while she rid
The sink of dishes, nagging her
Through everything she did.
And then he'd go to sleep and snore,
Sprawled in the rocking chair;
The light shone on his long, gray beard
And bristling, grizzly hair.
And so he lolled ; she mended, darned,
The while she scarce could see;
The song beat time within her head
That ached unceasingly.
A day came harder than the rest;
He snarled at her and raved,
And of the nagging words he knew
There was no word he saved.
night came with the supper ; wash
Of dishes in the sink;
And afterwards his snores ; her song;
She ceased to try to think.
The Hired Man Speaks:
"I found him crooked upon the floor;
The ax was sharp, for he
Had sharpened it that day an' whet It sharp as it could be.
She didn't notice me; she sat
As white's a sheet, but cool,
An' hummed a song: the words want much,
Jest, 'Mooncalf , dolt an' fool!' "

EYES
When life is very lonely
I close my eyes and go

Across a field and up a hill,
A way I know;
And there I find a garden
With a little house in it,
And both are wistful whispering,
"Come in and sit !"
Then you come, always singing,
On down the garden's walk,
And we, in white front doorway, stand
And softly talk. I often light a candle,
In my small sitting-room,
To show you some new picture or
A bit of bloom.
And all our time together
You love as much as I :
But, oh, my open eyes that watch
You passing by!



HOOFIN' IT

Pork an'
Beans an'
Apple pie!
Doughnuts,
Swagen,
By Gor-ri!
We'll hit
Great Pond
By an' by!

I am but a river hog,
River hog, river hog!
I am but a river hog
Hoofin' it to Great Pond!

Ellsworth is a meachin' town,
Sick'em town, lick'em town,
Ellsworth is a meachin' town,
Ring-a-round-a-rosy!

Ellsworth has a pretty pound,
Pretty pound, pretty pound,
Ellsworth has a pretty pound --
Pin on me a posy!

Waltham has no use for us,
Use for us, use for us;
Waltham has no use for us
When our heads are groggy!

They wun't give us feather beds,
Feather beds, feather beds;
They wun't give us feather beds --
No, we bunk with hoggy!

K-J he don't give a damn,
Give a damn, give a damn;
K-J he don't give a damn
If in hell we're seated!

Great Pond's miles an' miles away,
Miles away, miles away;
Great Pond's miles an' miles away
But the soup is heated!

K-J's waitin' there for us,
There for us, there for us;
K-J's waitin' there for us --
He's a damn good-fellow!

K-J makes us pick our shirts,
Pick our shirts, pick our shirts,
K-J makes us pick our shirts --
Makes us work O hell-o!

I am but a river hog,
River hog, river hog,
I am but a river hog
Hoofin' it to Great Pond!

Pork an'
Beans an'
Apple pie!
Doughnuts,
Swagen.
By Gor-ri!
We'll hit
Great Pond
By an' by!








                    BLACK AIKEN'S LOT

I took a walk one gloomy night
Across Black Aiken's Lot:
And lost I was and cold I was
When, lo, I spied a cot!

A candle lit was goodly sight
As I drew nigh the door,
Where such a welcome as I reeved
I ne'er had reeved before.

A Dame was there in swaiping gown,
With twenty padded curs
That edged a curious row around
And growled when she said, "Hers!"

"Sit down, Good Sir," the Beldam cried,
"Come, sit thee down, I pray!"
"A willow was I and fell my leaf!"
A voice warned, thin and gray.

"Then broth, Good Sir!" but a wooden spoon
Shrilled high within the pot,
"He cut off the head of the golden hen
Beside his father's cot!"

The Beldam turned to a peeled stick
That in a corner stood:
She lashed the curs as it loudly spoke,
"His navel blessed my wood!"

Then flung she trimmings of aged nails,
And a hundred whited teeth,
But open swung the heavy door
And I sped across the heath!

And when I'd found my way to town,
And told my story fair,
Old Luke spat East, North, West and South, --
"Black Aiken's Lot is bare."

AND ONE IS TWO?
Who calls? I cannot say,
Nor do I care -- nor care!
Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard
And found that the cupboard was bare.

The mouldering folk may call?
Ah, then, an end to songs!
Come to our wounds with cool powder and poultice,
And a gold pen to right our wrongs.

Who calls? And one is two?
The cat is dead -- was killed!
Yellow canary will sing on the coffin
And live in the house -- one will build!

BRANDY POND
Come all you jolly river boys and join me while I sing,
A song of days of long ago that recollections bring,
And you will hear how Brandy Pond was named an honoured name,
And Johnny Williams of Great Pond was given of the blame:
Though there was Judson Archer and J. Gooch of Yarmouth, too;
And Hopkins, up from Ellsworth, and the son of Donkey Drew,
As went into the wilderness to locate of the pine,
The punkin, and the hemlock, on the old Lute Jackson line:

O brandy is the life of man,
Brandy! Johnny!
O brandy is the life of man,
Brandy for our Johnny!

I drink it hot, I drink it cold,
Brandy! Johnny!
I drink it hot, I drink it cold,
Brandy for our Johnny!

I drink it new, I drink it old,
Brandy! Johnny!
I drink it new, I drink it old,
Brandy for our Johnny!
We viewed a pond a gliffy's thrice,
Brandy! Johnny!
And set to cross it on the ice,
Brandy for our Johnny!

Close by the shore an air-hole hid,
Brandy! Johnny!
It almost caught our noble Sid,
Brandy for our Johnny!

But Johnny in the water went,
Brandy! Johnny!
As quick as that false ice it bent,
Brandy for our Johnny!

And in that hole our bob it fell,
Brandy! Johnny!
And down our grub it went as well,
Brandy for our Johnny!

On top of Johnny, cold as ice,
Brandy! Johnny!
We hauled John out but he wan't nice,
Brandy for our Johnny!

Our keg of brandy did not sink,
Brandy! Johnny!
It floated on that dangerous brink,
Brandy for our Johnny!

We pulled that keg out, brave and bold,
Brandy! Johnny!
For cold as Greenland grew the cold,
Brandy for our Johnny!

No tun nor dipper had we then,
Brandy! Johnny!
To drink us from, us freezing men,
Brandy for our Johnny!

So we took knives and cut a bowl,
Brandy! Johnny!
Down in that ice, and round that hole,
Brandy for our Johnny!

We lay us down and drunk our fill,
Brandy! Johnny!
And drunk us to the very gill,
Brandy for our Johnny!

O brandy is the life of man,
Brandy! Johnny!
O brandy is the life of man,
Brandy for our Johnny!

I drink it hot, I drink it cold,
Brandy! Johnny!
I drink it hot, I drink it cold,
Brandy for our Johnny!

I drink it new, I drink it old,
Brandy! Johnny!
I drink it new, I drink it old,
Brandy for our Johnny!
So, here I end the song I sing of that brave company,
A song that I have sung to you like one I learned at sea,
For that is how that Brandy Pond was named an honoured name,
And Johnny Williams of Great Pond was given of the blame!





                      DEAFNESS

Wall-mountain rimmed around the sky
And bellied down, a bowl
With chipped and crackled edge; the farm
Dropped in like leaf-lopped cole.

Scrub trees crouched low on mountainside,
Their fingers locked and bared
Upon black rocks; at base great spruce
Stood close and leaned and stared.

The house, with up-curled shingles, hugged
The ground, a silent thing,
Like a gray bird squatting on its perch
In a cage, and cannot sing.

When she went up to bake for him,
To tend the house and such,
His deafness was a sorry chafe
She pitied overmuch.

A day came when he ceased to speak;
She did not care, for he
Was far more ugly in his speech
Than there was need to be.

But when the long days dragged on by
Without a word from him,
The crumbs of peace fell from her mind
As leaves drop from a limb.

At first she zigzagged in her mind
'Twixt old Hen Levy's Place
And his: she knew Four Corners brooked
No showing of her face.

And then she planned shrill words to shriek
To stab his deafness through;
And he would watch, with cunning eye.
Her stirred mind's boil and brew.

Then slyly he would egg her on:
He'd cup his ear with hand,
The while her throat rasped hoarse with words
She hoped he's understand.

In summer loneliness was lulled
By birds that came to sing;
An old black creaker, by the door,
Was always a friendly thing.

Slim poplars grew close to the barn
And whispered all day long;
The Plymouth Rocks scratched in their shade
And cackled or made song.

But in the winter when the jays
Sat shrieking, limb to limb,
It seemed somehow that he must hear; --
That she must talk with him.

And when a lone, lean crow would light
Upon a fire-stubbed pine,
It seemed a black thought from her heart,
That blurred her brain like wine.

One day a storm drove down; the wind
Banked snow in drifts on farm,
Encircling, with one deep drift,
The house like a gripping arm.

She shoveled a path from house to barn;
The cattle must be fed:
He let them go a day and night --
At her plea shook his head.

The crow came to the barn that night;
She took care of the cat;
The crow, on top-loft ladder's round,
In brooding silence sat.

When Sunday came the storm had cleared.
Some city folks snow-shoed
Through Toby's Gap to Brimmer's Place,
And one of them, a dude,

Was cold, and knocked upon the door;
When no one answered, he
Just turned the knob and went on in --
To see what he could see.

Old Aaron sat, bound in a chair;
His face was snarled with fear;
His hair cut off'n him quite close;
His throat cut, ear to ear.

She sat in a rocker, muttering,
A-waggling of her head;
But when she saw the dude, she rose: --
"He heard! He spoke!" she said.




DUST-SONG

Flick me from your broom's end;
Fling me on the air;
Chase me with your silken cloth
Round your room with care.

Dig me from your corners;
Mop my brow's cold wet;
Rub me from your table tops;
Word me with your fret.

Dust I am and Master
Of your storms and calms:
I leap six feet under with
You in my long arms!

EARTH-BREATHS
I can forget the night
And the day, --
And daises that grew
By the Appian Way.

But, no, not this . . . not this . . .
One clear note
That the white cat killed
In the yellowbird's throat!

EYES
When life is very lonely
I close my eyes and go
Across a field and up a hill,
A way I know;

And there I find a garden
With a little house in it,
And both are wistful whispering,
"Come in and sit!"

Then you come, always singing,
On down the garden's walk,
And we, in white front doorway, stand
And softly talk.

I often light a candle,
In my small sitting-room,
To show you some new picture or
A bit of bloom.

And all our time together
You love as much as I:
But, oh, my open eyes that watch
You passing by!

FEAR-FLAME
Is it any wonder,
Hating dust,
I cling to my cheesecloth
And family crust?

Is it any wonder
That I burn
With fear of dark-dust
When I return?

Tuck some red roses
In my hand,
And pray a little prayer
Where you stand,

When I am sleeping,
For I may know
You are late for dinner
And want to go.

But I will not worry:
Green is the sod
And I may not wait long
To visit with God.

FINALITY

The farm was lonely, set so far
Back from the town;
If neighbors came, he'd rant and rave
If they sat down.

And when they went he forced upon
Her hateful thought,
And nagged; made ugly use of words
With meaning fraught.

Her back was bent with work she'd done
Beyond her strength;
For he planned more than she could do
In each day's length.

The days seemed all alike to her
Until, one day,
She found a blue bird, maimed in wing,
So bright and gay

She loved it, cared for it, and soon
The bird loved her;
When he came, she would hide it and
It would not stir.

One noon he came and caught her with
The bird in play;
He killed it right before her in
A fearful way.

A neighbor came, to ask about
A plough, that night;
He never could forget that strange
And awful sight.

She'd used the kitchen knife on him
And he was dead;
She sat, a bruised and battered thing
From feet to head,

And hummed a little song, or spoke
A tender word,
And tried to make blue feathers stay
Upon a bird!                            



HANDS

"It wuz'er hands! I warned'er, tew!
I says, 'They're white,
Milk-white, but they turns red an' shine
Like eyes at night!'

"I says, 'I sees'em at your side
As nothin' you
Would like to have'em look like if
You only knew.'

"I says, 'You're nails hain't dirty as
They ought'r be,
A-doin' o' the chores you do
Along o' me!'

"I says, 'If you'd jest let me feel
Your hands, perhaps
They'd seem more human-like an' not
Like tophet traps!'

"I says, 'They're ha'nts, I tell you, ha'nts!
Why, strings o' dough,
When you be kneadin' it for bread,
The fust I know,

'Turns jest like blood, an' slews an' drops
From off'n 'em
An' sets my innerds quiv'rin' like
A worm-et stem!'

"But she . . . she laughs an' laughs . . . an' raised
'Em up an' worked
'Em like a spider's legs at me . . .
She knowed it irked . . .

"An' they turns red. . . . I warned'er, tew!
Jed understands
The reason o' my chokin' 'er --
It wuz'er hands!



HERITAGE
Door, I was, yes, afraid of you.
So slowly you swung back,
Your bending murmurs falling in
The dark, with creak and crack.

I pooh-poohed each move of yours.
I whispered, "'Tis the wind,
That scurries by, swift poking you
With mischief's fingered mind!"

But suddenly a nameless fear
Coiled like a snake of hate,
And hissed and struck! I leaped and closed
And locked you, cursing fate!

Door, was I then afraid of you?
I now lean low and hide
More fearful of the shapeless things
That stand and wait outside.

A WITCH’S DAUGHTER AND A COBBLER’S SON

A witch's daughter
And a cobbler's son:
Three blind mice
See how they run!

A witch's daughter
With hair of gold
And a rounded breast
In a muslin fold;

And a cobbler's son
With a boot to tap,
And a leather apron
Squat on his lap.

A witch's daughter,
A cobbler's son,
A boot half tapped
And a heel half done.

A witch's daughter,
With eyes like fire,
And a cobbler's son
With a strange desire.

A witch's daughter,
A cobbler's son,
A hawthorne tree
And a hot cross bun.

One old father
Between the two;
Two old mothers
And a kettle of stew.

A witch's daughter
And a cobbler's son:
Three blind mice
See how they run!

MONDAY, WASH-DAY

I will twiddle my thumbs
And take my ease,
With never a thank you
And never a please.

I will wink at the moon
With a solemn eye,
And switch my apron
Till young stars cry.

And who will say me
A yes or a no,
Where comets dangle
And planets crow.

I will kick my heels
And drink my tea
From a cup and a saucer
As big as the sea.

The old stone wall
May fall to a rock,
And the cat stay in
And wind the clock.

And dust may lie
Like tufted gray mice,
And the pantry be bare
Of barley and rice.

I will twiddle my thumbs,
My tongue in my cheek,
Remembering Monday
And Monday week.



MAKIN’ RHYMES

Rose wuz a hand at makin' rhymes;
But Shem'd no notion on't;
He licked of Rose a dozen times
An' tore her rhymes with taunt.

Rose set a lot by posies, tew;
Said things ter make yer laugh;
Like they had souls that somehow knew
As well's a dog or calf.

An' trees, Rose said, knew man fer man,
An' talked among theirselves;
An' once she took poor foolish Dan
Ter see the dancin' elves:

An' Dan, he said he saw 'em where
She took him in the wood;
An' Dan, he hummed a flighty air
They sung, ter words he buoyed.

An' Rose, she done of work right well;
She washed an' sewed an' baked;
In hayin', never missed the bell
On time, an' aluz raked

An' helped Shem with the chores an' all, --
An' aluz neat's a pin, --
Ontil a hayrick-pole did fall
On her an' stove her in.

An' sick, she begged of Shem ter let
Her hev a pencil so
The pain would ease if she could set
The rhymin' down, but, no,

Shem wouldn't. When the doct'r came
He went an' give it her,
An' listened while she told him some
The things, she'd seen, that were.

An' then, Rose said, the Gray Man stood
An' leaned on top his chair;
An' that the Green Man, from the wood,
An' elves an' all wuz there.

An' jest then Shem come in, Shem did,
An' grabbed the pencil rough,
An' swore of wuthless things well rid,
An' give of her a cuff.

The doct'r said he saw her close
Her eyes, like lilies do,
As slow, an' die; an' as wind blows
Up quick, a wind come through

With sounds like he hain't never heard.
Shem staggered out of door:
Ter hunt Shem everyone bestirred,
But he wan't seen no more.


ON ELLEN GOING WRONG

"Tittle Tattle!" said Black Shoes;
"Moon-slaked leaves," said Green.

Buds are hot for fingers
Where the gray wasp lingers.

"Tittle tattle!" said Black Shoes;
"Honeysweet," said Gold.

Plant a sprig of willow.
For the lone dove's pillow.

"Tittle tattle!" said Black Shoes;
"Wild plum bloom," said Red

Clay is cold for grasses
When the young sun passes.

"Tittle tattle!" said Black Shoes;
"Lily's heart," said White.

Bones are sweet for grinding
When linen's torn for winding.

"Tittle tattle!" said Black Shoes.



ON MEETING FATHER GOOSE

A gray old man,
As webbed as moss,
Loudly gid-dapping
A rocking horse,

Came out of the woods
By Nevin's Farm,
And beckoned me
With a leathery arm.

Upon the ground
I dropped my hoe,
And ran to him
Shouting "Hello!"

But all he said
Was "Humpty-D"
And "Queen of Hearts"
And "Fiddlers three";

And "Porridge hot"
And "Cupboard bare"
And "Platter clean"
And "Taste your ware."

I stood amazed,
As a lad might well,
For what his want
I could not tell.

He eyed me long,
And his look was cool:
Then he cried "Gid-dap!
You gol dern fool!"

PITCH O' PINE SONNETS: 1. JOHN'S MARY

John's Mary ripened golden as the wheat,
Grew slender as a corn stalk in the Spring.
To her tight breast the first turned sod would bring
A troubled clutch that stilled her willing feet,
And flooded her slim body with the sweet
Surge of strangely flowing rhythms, and the far swing
Of sounds that bloomed on her mind's height, to cling
As mountain flowers braving the wind's wild beat.
John's Mary found the secret in a blow
When her strong soul rose from her body's sleep;
For then it was she saw a morning's glow
Spread over waves that rolled a sea's great deep,
To flame on a ship's wide deck. They do not know
Why Mary sought a sailor, -- and left John to weep.

PITCH O' PINE SONNETS: 2. QUILLS
Si's temper was barbed-quilled as a hedgehog's tail
And threw quills when he went to get a drink
And found but tepid water; on the brink
Of the well-curb they fell clanking on the pail.
For weeks the quills would fly if a dry-rot rail
Was hooked from the pasture fence, and left a chink
For jumping cows to munch on corn. The swink
Of hunting hens' nests was a quill-gybed flail.
Si's wife used tweezers: eased her mind's grim tread
By yank of quills from flesh that silenced groans.
Si's son they worked in, on and around his bones
With pain-jabbed waves of hot and hateful dread,
Until one day quite worn out dragging stones
He hurled one at the quills, and crushed Si's head.


PITCH O' PINE SONNETS 3. CLEM'S FOOL

Clem told the 'Squire that Ben was growing strong
In body, strangely so, considering his years.
Ben's mind, Clem said, was full of quirks and fears
And worked in grooves untenable of right or wrong;
Clem said, hard as it hurt, Ben did belong
Where doctors could attend to his arrears
Of common sense; away from tease and sneers
Of children and grown-ups, prodding tongue and tong.
The 'Squire loud laughed at Clem, and said that he
Thought Ben was just a fool, and nothing more:
Ben's setting Clem's old barn on fire to see
The hens and geese run squawking through the door,
Was but a joke. When Ben, amuck, at Susan's Bee
Sore stabbed the 'Squire, -- 'twas Clem the burden bore.




POOR RIVER DRIVERS!

We're poor river drivers,
We're poor river drivers,
We're poor river drivers
Withouten any home!
We're poor river drivers,
We're poor river drivers,
We're poor river drivers
Withouten any home!

We hain't got no mother,
We hain't got no brother,
We hain't got no father
Nor sister, cousin, aunt!
All we got is lammies,
All we got is damme's,
All we got is git-ter-hell
An' can't an' can't an' can't!

We fergive conductors,
We fergive our ructors,
We fergive the brakeman
We met on the train;
We fergive the dandies,
Dudes an' dukes an' landies,
Everyone as blacked an' eye,
Till we meet again!

We fergive ol' Ellsworth,
We fergive the hell's worth
We give ter the playful boys
Callin' us galoots!
We fergive ol' Kay-Jay,
Demmit Jim an' Say-Hay
Offen-ov-them-gol-dern-floors
An' offen-of-them-boots!

We fergive the beller,
We fergive the feller
Tendin' at the Hancock Bar
Fer backin' his complaint!
We fergive the schoolin',
We fergive the foolin'
Of the plug-hat storekeeps
In savin' of their paint!

We hain't got no kisses,
We hain't got no blisses,
We hain't got no damsel
Ter give ter us a smile!
All we got is chinkin',
All we got is drinkin',
Fer ter comfort of our souls
An' sorrows ter beguile!

We hain't got no mother,
We hain't got no brother,
We hain't got no father
Nor sister, cousin, aunt!
All we got is lammies,
All we got is damme's,
All we got is git-ter-hell
An' can't an' can't an' can't!

We're poor river drivers,
We're poor river drivers,
We're poor river drivers
Withouten any home!
We're poor river drivers,
We're poor river drivers,
We're poor river drivers
Withouten any home!


RED WINDS

I hear the shadows moving among old trees;
I see cold, white mists face new ecstasies;
And I, a thing of tears
And fears.

I hear the dead feet travel in a row;
I see the torn leaves falling where they go;
And I, a sleeping stone
Age blown.


I hear the red winds of the west arise;
I see strange, wide and watchful, waiting eyes;
And I, a thing of dust
In trust.


SCUFFLED DUST

The lean white birches of the moon
Leaped through the hoop of the noon.

The spider spun her purling lies
Snaring believing little flies.

The blossom, golden-hearted, bore
The worm that ate the apple's core.

A sin put on so sweet a dress
Virtue laughed at her light caress.

Thus it was, long, long ago:
What came after I do not know.


SHE TOLD MARY

"I said to Whittlesey, I said,
He's not been gone a year;
And I have grieved and I have grieved
And dropped me many a tear!

"I said to Whittlesey, I said,
I'll wait till he comes back:
And I'll not hear and I'll not hear
The daft old women's clack!

"I said to Whittlesey, I said,
You've eyes for all who pass!
And I'll not look and I'll not look --
But look I did, alas!

"I said to Whittlesey, I said, --
But he was on my mouth,
And parched I grew and parched I grew
As a belly-slave in drouth!

"I said to Whittlesey, I said,
He'll make me pay for this . . .
But Don he laughed and Don he laughed
And shunt me with a kiss!"

STRANGE PATHS

There was a Way I used to know
That ended on a hill,
Where at the twilight I would go
And say me "I am still!"

But I no longer know the Way
And oh, my heart will break!
So many paths lead from the day
I know not which to take!


As to the Old Woman,
One said she was:
Five white sheep in a pen
And ten crows' caws.

Black winds on brown grasses;
Sick eyes may weep:
Four tears dropped on a hill
And nine crows asleep.






THE SIN

No, I will not crawl away
In some dark corner where
It is planned that I must kneel
And say a prayer.

No, I will not crawl away --
But stand and face my God,
And we'll discuss the weed
That broke the sod.


THREADS

When I was a young girl,
With a tilted chin,
Passed I by this door and that
Laughing at my kin.

Then there burst a red sun,
Spilling windless flame,
Spattering my ash-white bones
With a secret name.

Ran I to a wide door,
Where a candle burned
High above a hundred heads,
Not a face upturned.

"Poof!" I snapped my fingers;
"Poof!" I tossed my chin,
As the withered whispers begged
By the dance-way in.

In the strew of twilight,
Through the kitchen door,
Dragged I like a blinded hare
With the wounds I bore.

I was like a pebble
On a sandy shore
Where the sea waves stamped their feet
At the green land's door.


UNDER-CURRENTS

I was like a pebble
On a sandy shore
Where the sea waves stamped their feet
At the green land’s door.

I was like a pebble
That a gnarled hand, cool,
Picked up from the sun-domed sands,
‘Flung into a pool.

Is it then to wonder
That from where I lie
All I send to heaven
Is but a bitter cry?


WEIGHTS

My mother said I was a fool
But, oh, she loved her son.
My father said, "A rod is the fool's,"
And I, "Thy hand hast done?"

My mother said, "The ears of a fool,"
But, oh, she whispered pretty
Unto her son of a honeycomb
And silver in the city.


And "Wisdom is too high for a fool,"
My mother said to me;
"Where no wood is the fire is out;
I bind no stones," said she.

"The weights of the bag are the Lord's"
I said to my mother;
"A potsherd covered with silver dross,"
I said of my brother.
WIMIN’S WORK

She wan't like Ede er Kate er them,
With pith and thigh fer work
From one week's end ter 't'other, though
There wan't a thing she'd shirk

If it wuz wimin's work; an', fit er not,
She made no blat
An' that we knowed; but, John wan't one
Ter let it go at that.

Daise come from over Slab Hill way
Where John bought most of his sheep
Of old Jed Dunn, an', courtin' her,
He 'umored her a heap;

But when John brung her hum he sot
Ter break her in ter do
The outdoor chores that Hen had done,
Though 't'wan't much pay Hen drew,

Him bein' let out by the 'Squire
Ter help along the School, --
Hen bein' on the town fer alms
An more'n half a fool; --

So, Daise, she told John how it wuz:
'T'wuz wimin's work ter bake;
Ter wash an' iron; scrub an' mend;
An' hayin' time she'd rake

An' milk; an' take the biddies on
An' tend the lambs an' calves
The whole year round, fer men ware rough
An' tended them by halves;

But fence rails he would hev ter drag;
An' he would hev ter lug
The water; cut an' haul the wood;
An' rocks she wouldn't tug

Fer clearin' ner fer mendin' walls.
Daise sot ter make things plain
Ter John, who'd yoked his temper ter
A nut-gall crossed in grain.

Then old Ed's Boy, he told a tale
As how John licked of Daise;
John held Daise by her yaller hair
An' holler'd fit ter craze!

M's Bartlett, hearin' of the talk,
Decided she would go
Avisitin' of John an' Daise --
Git what there wuz ter know!

But, John, he gaff'd an' scratch'd fer Daise
Like a rooster fer his hen,
An' said of Grace, an' prayed at night
An' read a Chapter then.

An' when M's Bartlett went, John driv'
Her hum, as nice as pie,
An' asked her would she come agin --
She said she thought she'd fly!

Then vapors got aholt of Daise:
'Twuz when the hay was cut
An' John had men ahayin' there
An' driv her like a slut.

She claimed the pointed firs that run
On round the Upper Field
Stood there like sentinels by day,
But riz at dusk an' reeled

All night aback an' for'ards, like
A whip wuz on their backs;
That screech owls ware but poor lost souls
The devil toused on racks;

An' things like that; an' then she took
The notion God let fall
A seed an' made of her a flower
That waited of His call.

An', John, he couldn't make her budge, --
Though Sade said that he tried,
An' Luke did, tew, who worked fer him, --
Up ter the day she died.

SUNRISE AT COOPER

FROM OUT the East a flame burst forth
And climbed, like forest-fire, wind-swept,
On up the dim-starred sky,
Then leaped, like spark that proves its worth,
Upon the mountain’s brast; then crept
Into the lake to lie.

IN FRONT of antlered buck and doe,
That sniffed the air with keen delight
Befoe they deigned to drink.
In shadows of the pins below,
Sun-trimmed with edge of rosy light,
The red deer light sink.

A MIST stands where a sluggish stream
Slides by a giant stone, tree crowned,
Like maiden half a sleep
And loath to part with singing dream,
That shuts away the mocking sound
Of those who rise to weep.

THE gauze-winged dragonflies awake;
In bluing waters white perch rise;
Warm voices fill the sod;
From out the heart of placid lake,
Of crooning earth, of dawn-dressed-skies,
Come hope and faith in God.


APRIL

Soft and low,
Sweet and slow,
Singing in the hollow/
Sun and rain
Back again,
Blithesome bloom a-follow!

Robins preen
“Mid the green
Draping Nature’s altar;
In the mead
Happy reed
Lifts from dream-bound psalter.

Hopes and fears,
Smiles and tears,
In each gleam or shower;
Laugh and weep,
Sow and reap,
April’s in her bower!

APRIL SHADOWS

I shall hide from April shadows;
I shall lightly tread the grass;
I shall leave no sign behind me
To betray where I must pass!

For my Love waits in the Junetime,
Beautiful and sweet to see;
Only sunshine shall enfold her,
Only joy her portion be!

    
   IN APRIL

Something back in April
Wracked my heart with pain,
Putting out joy's fires
Like a fog-hunched rain.

Something back in April
Quenched the joy I had;
What, I can't remember –
April was so glad!


IN MORVEN’S MEAD

In Morven’s Mead I heard a cry
And sound of glad wings passing by;
And searching softly o’er the ground,
A smiling, star-fac’d flower found!




THE NIGHT WIND BARED MY HEART

The Night Wind bared my heart;
I felt the old, keen smart
Of grief: cold Mem’ry’s eyes
Her subtle miler plies
With art!

The Day Wind heal’d  the smart
That fasten’d on my heart;
But, Oh, from grief was prest
The joys that from my breast
Depart!



ON SHORE

The trees are wailing,
And grim night—a grayling—
Swoops hawk-like down on
The gale-gall’d day.

The sea, ‘neath thunder
And wolf-winds’ p;under,
On wreck-would shore whacks
The writing spray.

And Oh, my soul’s nearest,
My heart’s own dearest,
Is out there tonight in
A water-logg’d shell!
I can but be praying,
“Neath wind and sea’s flaying,
And shut from my ears
The Pollock’s Rip bell!




WHO WILL FARE WITH ME?

Oh, who will fare afar with me?
Oh, who will fare with me?
We’ll  tread the green and happy land,
We’ll sail the salt blue sea!
And east and west and north and south
We’ll take the trail away,
And always with Tomorrow hold
The joys of Yesterday!

We’d take the Trail of Dreamers out
Across the leagues of dew;
We’ll pass where grand green willows lean
In bonnets silv’ry blue.
We’ll play with young white violets
In velvet pinafores,
Just taken, sweetly scented, from
A May-elf’s woodland drawers.

We’ll take the Trail of Dreamer, that
Is gay with bloom begun;
And as we’re faring onward we
Will sail a sea of sun;
We’ll find our way to shaded wood
Where pools lie, still and deep,
And tease from them the secrets that
We know they cannot keep.

We’ll take the Trail of Dreamers to
The minstrel folk of dream;
We’ll beg their charm that we may hear
The fairy singing stream;
We’ll hear the jolly river wind
Sing songs it learn’d at sea,
A-rollicking with fantasies
As sweet as sweet can be.

We’ll take the Trail of Dreamers on
An hour that’s all our own,
When hope’s glad thrilling kisses are
Upon the skyways blown;
And love will fare on with us, and
Will shield from stress and strife,
And grant the gift of happiness
To bless us into life!

Oh, who will fare afar with me?
Oh, who will fare with me?
We’ll  tread the green and happy land,
We’ll sail the salt blue sea!
And east and west and north and south
We’ll take the trail away,
And always with Tomorrow hold
The joys of Yesterday!



GALILEO AND SWAMMERDAM

One look’d into celestial light,
Saw moon and stars in th’infinite;
Their beauty stirr’d his heart.
The telescope came to his eyes,
And harmonies, set in the skies,
Became of life a part.

The other lov’d the creeping things,
The atoms small, the world of wings,

The puny stir of breath.
The microscope show’d earth at war;
Devouring nature’s doling law;
And his love brought him death.


1st half missing, this is 2nd half (2)

And I gave to earth, from out my side,
My children, changelings three:
The Bacchic blood of my amorous bride
Flows in them measureless, free.

By beacon light is the setless star,
I roar in the Arctic track,
My breath, as a cyclone, rages afar,
I sing,--and mountains crack;
I smile, and the lure is deathless fame
And the sail of the iron ship;
I frown, and naked is tripp’d its frame,
And crunch’d in my crushing grip.

I lay in was the fertile land,
I strike the flowers hear
I barren the yield wherever plann’d
As I blight the bud at start;
I strip the tree of leaf and boutgh,
However my fancies stray,
I fling disaster into the Now
From a thousand miles away.

I lust the sea with hellish roar,
I storm its portals round,
Is strew with wrecks is rock-sunk shore
From Open to the Sound;
I whirl and rip on the steamer’s deck
Till they hammer the hatches down,
I mock and flaunt ere I taste the wreck—
Before they sink to drown.

From whence I come or where I dwell
Is never for you to know,
Be it height of heave, depth of hell,
I hold you in my throe;
But before I come men signal me—
Red rag and rocket flare—
And I send my calm from over sea
To say I will be there.


LONELINESS

I cannot make my thoughts stay home;
I cannot close their door;
And, oh, that I might shut them in,
And they go out no more!

For they go out, with wistful eyes,
And search the whole world through;
Just hoping, in their wandering,
To catch a glimpse of you!

VALUES
I go about my life;
I do each task,
And smile and laugh with you,
Give words when you ask.

And yet, how very far
We are apart!
You know no happy thing
Within my heart!

THE BONNET

I will take my golden thimble,
Scissors, needle, thread,
And Will make my Love a bonnet
For her dainty head!

I will take me for her bonnet
Velvet from the skies.
When the April sky is bluest,
And will match her eyes.

I will take me for the trimming
Brightest stars I see,
And a dartling ray of moonshine
Shall the banding be.

Then I’ll cut for it a lining
From a web of dreams.
Carefully will do the fitting,
Neatly sew the seams.

Then I’ll scent it with the fragrance
Of the reddest rose
That the singing wind finds sweetest
Where it farthest blows.

Then, when it is nicely finished,
Quaintly fashioned, rare,
I will take it at the twilight
For my Love to wear!



DRIFTWOOD AND FIRE

You warm your hands,
And smile,
Before the fire of driftwood.

I feel old hands’
Wan guile
That writes in the fire of driftwood.

You see the green and blue
And red
Like dartling rays in rainbows.

But I (h?)old dreams that knew
And bled
Their souls away in rainbows.


LADY SUMMER

Oh dear! Who is that lady, pray?
She looks familiar, quite!
I’m sure ‘twas but the other day
I knew her as a mite!

Ah, now I know!
‘Tis little Spring!
And grown up grand and tall!
And wasn’t she a pretty thing
Upon my garden wall?

Oh, there, she’s gone! I scarce can see
The print of her small feet.
My little Spring—that used to be
So frail and fair and sweet!


THE MUSQUASH

Like a mud-clod I am biding,
Where the bush-grown silt is sliding,
By the stream,
Where the lily pad is sinking,
Where the blue crane sits a-blinking
In a dream.

Marsh hens squawk among the grasses
Where the hawk swoops as he passes
Near the pool;
Frost-red leaves are idly dozing
On the sluggish river, nosing,
Cark and cool.

Overhead a crow is cawing,
Up the stream a beaver knowing
On a tree;
On the shore a bear is walking,
Down the stream a mosses is stalking
Bold and free.

I can hear the hollow baying
Of the hounds, the red doe slaying,
That—and more;
I can hear the stealthy paddling
Of the trapper, traps unsaddling,
At my door.

Like a mud-clod I sit waiting,
Watching trapper, steel traps baiting,
In my rut;
And I long for sere skies’ rifting,
Howl of wind and snows’ deep drifting
On my hut.


THE SONG OF THE SEASHELL

Close to my heart come place your ear
And listen well. Can you not hear
The longing of the cool of night
When breezes light
And golden moon
In sky, star-strewn,
Come nigh to make you weep? Strange seems
The real tangled so with dreams!

And laughter hear from years in tune
With wakeful sorrow’s subtle rune
You heard, when passion’s fire had died,
And soul decried
The garish flame
That seemed the same
As love’s own fire, that in life’s race
Thrusts out a weak, distorted face.

Hear beauty’s song of light and shade,
Of day and night that God hath made,
Of flowers shedding scents divine,
Of dew-drops’ shine,
Of singing birds,
Of love-warmed words,
And all the wondrous wil’ring things
The hour from her fair bosom flings.

And hear that little summer breeze
That soothes the work-worn wings of bees;
The chimney’s song on winter’s night,
The rune of might,
The owlet’s tune
In mood-mad June.
The whirl and whir of Things to Be from tiny acorn to the tree.

Hear waves that rom from shore to shore,
The boom and bank of thunder’s roar,
The sunset’s croon on sleepy sea,
The soughing tree,
The lure of land,
And greeting hand,
And in my ear, when singings cease,
The aftermath of strife—sweet peace!




ATAVISM

When winds are warm and sweet
And spread blue winds on high,
My soul no longer knows itself—
I am the sky!

When winds are slow and soft
With sound f tears in fief,
I leap back ages, swift and sure—I am a leaf!

When winds are furious
And white and fast they go,
Then lonely, chill, I press the earth—
I am the snow!

When winds are leaping, mad,
And hungrily are free,
And whole in green or patched in black—
I am the sea!

When silence bars the day
And night, nor winds pass by,
My soul takes shape of hopeful dreams—
And I am I!


CROSS-CURRENTS
They wrapped my soul in eiderdown;
They placed me warm and snug
In carved chair; set me with care
Upon an old prayer rug.

They cased my feet in golden shoes
That hurt at toe and heel;
My restless feet, with youth all fleet,
Nor asked how they might feel.

And now they wonder where I am,
And search with shrill, cold cry;
But I crouch low where tall reeds grow,
And smile as they pass by!


THE FAREWELL

WHAT is more beautiful
Than thought, soul-fed,
That I may be the crimson of a rose
When dead?

My soul, so light a joy
And grief will be,
That it will gently press the brown earth down
On me.



HER FIRST PARTY

I’ve been to a party,
Where I ate so hearty,
Of candies, ice cream and such,
That I feel quite tearful,
And, oh, I am fearful—
That I ate a wee bit too much!


BOBBY’S WISHES

I WISH I had a musquash and a deer;
I wish I had a beaver and a frog;
I wish I had a big pond and a dam;
I wish I had a gold-fish and a dog.
I wish I had a big bear and a fox;
I wish I had a reindeer and a moose;
I wish I had a rabbit and a snake;
I wish I had a partridge and a goose.
I wish I had a bucksaw and a plane;
I wish I had some lumber and some tin;
And, if I had a hammer and some nails,
I'd build a pen at once to keep them in!





THE HOWL-WIND
I LIKE to hear old Howl-wind blow,
When I am safe in bed, you know!
All in and out and around about,
As if most strong and very stout!
I like it when old Howl-wind sings.

Of seas and islands, ships and things,
And whispers tales of foreign lands,
And pirate treasure deep in sands!
But I like best when Howl-wind climbs
Way up the sky, where he, sometimes,

Fills great, big clouds chock-full of snow,
And bangs them round and to and fro;
And then the snow comes tumbling down
On every hill and street in town;
And when I wake, you ought to see,
The splendid coasting made for me!


BABY BLUEBIRD

A Baby Bluebird, in a tree,
Said, "How much longer will it be
That I
Must fly
From twig to twig, and round about,
Now that my wings have feathered out?
"I want to fly down to the ground
Where all the lovely worms are found,
And hop,
And stop
To tease the little crawly things,
And stretch my jaunty, shining wings!"
Just then a Hawk swooped down so near,
That Baby Bluebird shook with fear!
Cried he,
"To me
That proves, dear Mother, you were right
To keep me up here out of sight!"






Fallen Fences

The Woods grew dark; black shadows rocked   
    And I could scarcely see      
My way along the old tote road,
    That long had seemed to me 

To wind on aimlessly; but now         
    Came full to life; the rain      
Would soon strike down; ahead I saw   
    A clearing, and a lane          

Between gray, fallen fences and
    Wide, grayer, grim stone walls;                
So grim and gray I shrank from thought
    Of weary, aching spalles.     

On stony knoll great aspens swayed      
    And swung in browsing teeth
Of wind; slim, silvered yearlings shook         
    And shivered underneath.     

Beyond, some ancient oak trees bent    
    And wrangled over roof        
Of weatherbeaten house, and barn        
    Whose sag bespoke no hoof.        

And ivy crawled up either end  
    Of house, to chimney, where
It lashed in futile anger at         
    The wind wolves of the air.  

I thought the house abandoned, and              
    I ran to get inside,    
When suddenly the old front door         
    Was opened and flung wide  

And she stood there, with hand on knob,           
    As I went swiftly in,         
Then closed the door most softly on      
    The storm and shrieking din.

A space I stood and looked at her,        
    So young; ’twas passing strange       
That fifty years or more had gone                 
    And brought no new style’s change. 

The sweetness, daintiness of her           
    In starched and dotted gown 
Of creamy whiteness, over hoops,        
    With ruffles winding down!          

We had not much to say, and yet          
    Of words I felt no lack;        
Her smiles slipped into dimples, stopped           
    A moment, then dropped back.         

I felt her pride of race; her taste        
    In silken rug and chair,         
And quaintly fashioned furniture           
    Of patterns old and rare.       

On window sill a rose bush stood;        
    ’Twas bringing rose to bud;          
One full bloomed there but yesterday,   
    Dropped petals, red as blood.

Quite soon, she asked to be excused     
    For just a moment, and         
Went out, returning with a tray         
    In either slender hand.          

My glance could not but linger on         
    Each thin and lovely cup;     
“This came, dear thing, from home!” she sighed
    The while she raised it up.            

And when the storm was done and I     
    Arose, reluctantly     
To go, she too was loath to have           
    Me go, it seemed to me.       

When I reached old Joe Webber’s place,                   
    Upon the Corner Road,        
I went into the Upper Field       
    Where Joe, round-shouldered, hoed  

Potatoes, culling them with hoe
    And practised, calloused hand,                 
In rounded piles that brownly glowed    
    Upon the fresh-turned land.  

“Say, Joe,” I said, “who is that girl       
    With beauty’s smiling charm,           
That lives beyond that hemlock growth,        
    On that old grown-up farm?”

Joe listened, while I told him where      
    I’d been that afternoon,        
Then straightened from his hoe, and hummed,   
    Before he spoke, a tune.               

“They cum ter thet old place ter live     
    Some sixty years ago;          
Jest where they cum from, who they ware,        
    Wy, no one got to know.      

“An’ then, one day, he hired Hen’s               
    Red racker an’ the gig;         
We never heard from him nor could      
    We track the hoss or rig.      

“Hen waited ’bout a week, an’ then      
    He went ter see the Wife;             
He found her in thet settin’ room:         
    She’d taken of her life.         

“An’ no one’s lived in thet house sence;
    Some say ’tis haunted,—but 
I ain’t no use fer foolishness,            
    So all I say’s tut! tut!”          


Life’s Sunshine and Shadows

'Tis easy to follow sunbeams
That chance like a fairy fay,
'Tis easy to pluck the blossoms
That bloom in a dream-like way,
"Tis easy to smile and be pleasant
When speech shows a golden tongue,
And easy to laugh and be merry
When hearts are joyous and young.
'Tis harder to follow the struggle
That grips an approaching ill,
'Tis harder to smile when a sorrow
Comes limping down Misery's hill,
"Tis harder to pick up a burden,
A duty that must be borne,
"Tis harder to walk in a garden
From which all roses are shorn.
But life must have laughing and weeping,
There must be darkness and light,
It must have its thorns and blossoms,
There must be blindness and sight,
It must have its sweetness and sharpness,
There must be the new and the worn,
But what counts most in the living
Is how joy or grief is borne.




        THE NORTHWEST CORNER

I wish that Nate had let me grow
Some roses there!
I would have pulled the phlox, but, oh,
I did not dare!

His mother planted of that phlox/
So stiff and tall
And friendlessly it grew, nor leaned
Against the wall.

For forty hears I longed to have,
Amid the fret,
Some roses in the garden just
To help forget.

I wish that Nate had let me grow
Some roses there!
I would have pulled the phlox, but, oh,
I did not dare!








THE RIVER OF LIFE

When life's river flows with blithesome calm upon its placid way,
When sunbeams dive for merry dip, then up for dance and play,
When on the banks the violets are lilting tender tune,
And feath'ry ferns gaze drowsily from out their dreamland June,
We row our boat, yet do not see the loveliness of day,
Nor know near half the beauty of the river's gentle sway.

But when the river, lashed by winds, tears up the flower'd shore,
And torrents rip the ramparts 'mid the raff of thunders' roar,
When clouds stretch out their angry hands and set their tumults free,
And lightning rides the phantoms stalking landward from the sea,
We grovel then beneath the lurid storm that sweeps the soul,
And only see the shadows that our fears have set a-roll.

Oh, why not look about us as the river life flows on,
And see the flowers blooming at the sun-sweet edge of Dawn,
And greet the joys that follow on the common ways of life,
Nor wait to have their beauty shorn by wintry winds of strife;
For then, when storm-packs gather and the waters boil and rile,
We'll row our boat with courage and the heart -beat of a smile.





A MERCHANT FROM ARCADY

I have for sale who'll buy them, please?
The fragrant scents from Southern seas
Where roses sigh.

And bare their hearts to summer's kiss;
The scents I have hold all their bliss!
Oh, who will buy?

A rainbow gave this charm to me;
This scarf of crimson gauze you see
From out the sky;

It wipes away the hurt of tears
And laughs away the frown of fears.
Oh, will you buy?

I have for sale a heather bloom
A-thrill with joy from God's own room
Where ceilings high

Bend over dreams that drowse in song
And store them up the whole day long.
Oh, will you buy?

And, oh, see this! A moonbeam's glow
Caught by a lover long ago.
'Tis sweetly shy

And lovely; has a golden smile
That stops the hours with gentle guile
Oh, will you buy?

And I have here a butterfly
Whose beauty none shall e'er deny.
'Twill never die,

For mem'ry warpt in youth's fair things
Lies folded in its crimson wings.
Oh, will you buy?

Ah, yes, and here's a magic flute
A-tune with Spring's aerial lute
Where love-songs lie;

And all who play it have the art
Of bringing joy to every heart!
Oh, will you buy?

I come from far-off Arcady
That lies beyond the twilight sea,
My luck to try.

My goods again I cannot trade,
Their virtues are before you laid.
Oh, who will buy?

Waiting for Betty

Billy waited in the dew
For Betty, by the gate;
Billy waited in the dew
For Betty, who was late!

Billy waited in the dew
For Betty, understand?
Billy waited in the dew
But I—held Betty’s hand!

HAYING

She, too, could swing a scythe and cut a swath
Of ripened grass as evenly as he:
But knowing how it was with him, how wrath
Would kindle in his eyes and flame when she
Did work he thought a man should do, she set
Herself the lighter task of raking when
His lusty yoo-hoo rode the air and met
Her longing to be near him again.
With jugs of sweetened ginger water, rake
Upon her shoulder, she would smile her way
To him across the curing grass and make
Believe she was a lady, mincing, gay.
The neighbors said he spoiled her, yet a charm
Did seem to further work upon their farm.


Fragment

An’ de water
He come rollin’ down.
Frank Bob-bo-lee
Frank Bob-bo-lo
An’ Frank slipped his foot an’ he go drown.
Frank Bob-bo-lee
Frank Bob-bo-lo
Frank Bob-bo-lee
Frank Bob-bo-lo

fragment from THE FIGHT

An’ Mike were gittin’ groggy,
But he pounded like a bull!
An’ we could see that Larry
Ware a-hevin’ quite a pull!

The he backed and broke guard steady,
(Hell! But Larry looked damned raw!)
An’ on his whole weight drawin’
Up an’ landed on Mike’s jaw!

Caza, the Dancer

I called and called unto the world.
I, Caza, the Dancer;
But not a breath of music stirred
In answer!

And then I heard a pretty tune
All jov???? and laughter,
But I had grown too old to dance
On after!

The Mirror

Last night I looked into my mirror;
I dare not look again;
I dare not see my heart so sick
And ghastly gray with pain!

I cannot look into my mirror,
For there my heart looks out
Its deathbed where it weeps and writhes,
But cannot turn about!


I Wish

I wish, oh, I wish I was back home again!
I’d jump for my turn at the plow;
I’d rake up the hay with a hip-hip-hooray
And I’d fork it away in the snow!

And if, as I wish, I was back home again,
“Tis never again would I roam!
I’d care not one jot for an ????b’s fine lot—
For there ain’t nothin’ nowhere like home!



  
  THE PURCHASE

Once on a gold May morning,
As I walked through a town,
I met a Merchant crying,
"One white, one purple gown!"
He stopped me, swift demanding,
"Which will you have of me?
This white — is yours for nothing !
This purple — thalers three!"
"I'll take from you, Old Merchant,
The gown for which I pay!"
I gayly donned the garment
And went my careless way !
The skies grew dark and darker;
A fog brought mystery ;
Beside me stalked black shadows
That pecked the heart of me !
I sought the wary Merchant;
He gave me but one look :
"Hope's robe was yours for nothing!
Despair's was what you took !"


BROWN LEAVES

No more upon the walk
I hear your tread;
No more sweet fragrance wings--
The flowers are dead!

No more I stand and wait
And watch for you :
The wind but shifts brown leaves
When day is through!




THE COBBLER IN THE MOON

Cobbler, cease your stitching!
Put down your awl !
I've long been waiting
Before your stall.

Cobbler, cease your pegging!
Who pays your wage?
And who’s the ugly,
Dry shoes of Age?

I have shoes for mending;
A patch or two
Will make them nearly
As good as new.


Mine too worn for patching?
It cannot be
The shoes just finished
Were made for me?




Fragment

Time went dancing down the road
Yesterday;
It was sweet to watch Time dance
On her way.

Not one sigh was in my heart!
How coud I
Know that when to-morrow cam
I shoud cry?

Joy cam winging down to me,
A brown, son-throated bird,
But on a honeyed tree’s dark branch
A scarlet note was heard.

Joy was singing, soft and low,
A tender little lay,
But, oh, my ears were deafened by
The scarlet not that day!

Once I cried a little cry,
Nor wiped the tears away;
And bitter was the taste of them
The long, long day.

Oh, but that was long ago!
To-day I sit apart
And smile and watch young laughter run
About my heart!

I cannot bear to hear the grasses sing!
Their tiny fingers press the notes of grief
Where apple blossoms pinkly sway and swing
And nod to each uncurling, greening leaf.

I cannot bear to hear the grasses sing!
Nor watch them tiptoe on the sun-sweet ground,
For, oh, I know how their small hands will cling
Upon the earth that is my body’s mound!

If I am quiet, when the twilight comes,
My dead love I will see;
Like breathless whisper in a lilac bloom
My love will come to me.

If I am quiet, all the lapis night,
My love will be my guest;
But, oh, that she may never touch my hand
Nor lean against my breast!

My feet are shod in golden shoes,
That glimmer in the sun,
With lacings made of sweet delight
And laughter’s fun.

The soles so studded are with nails
That press up, prick and pry,
I can but sit still in a chair
And softly cry!

In Moreh’s Wood

"An axe'' quoth he, "is a sharp, sharp thing
      When hung with a handle of oak!''
And I thought with a sting o' my ha'penny ring
     And I thought o' my humble folk.

And I thought o' the day when I vowed I'd be
A maid till he made me his own;
And I thought o' that tree and o' Don Whittlesey
And o' such as I oughtn't have known.

And I thought, he is crazed and they'll be amazed
When the news to them sudden is broke. . . .
"An axe," quoth he, "is a sharp, sharp thing
    When hung with a handle of oak!"

Fragment
……..
That goads, with hag-mind, deep;
The Thing, am I, with forded knife
That prods the weary brain,
And snarls when Pleasure strives for life
Within my haunts of Pain.

I laugh: Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho! Hoo! Hoo!
When all the house is still;
I quaff: Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho! Hoo! Hoo!
When ghost-sheep run up hill!
My slaves count hundreds—fives and tens,
Till shadows stab their eyes!
They jum ten thousand sheep in pens
Until their counting lies!

Their music is a fun’ral march;
They see the wreath’d flow’rs fair;
They see their robes, as white as starch,
They feel the Eyes that stare.
They tramp the path of Fear and Flame
That narrows to four walls,
With minds red hot with Curse and shame,
Above the Pray’r that falls.

And then, I stage anew the trick
That brought me hell-curs’d gold;
I spread the reek of hunger thick
Upon a white-fac’d fold!
And Mem’ry, loath to serve my ends,
I heckle at the throat,
Till she her Province far extends
Beyond her hat-black mote.

And then—my Slaves will laugh, “Ha! Ha!”
And count sheep white and grey,
And moan in numbers mumblings mar,
Through night, through dawn, through day
While lips that quiver pray for rest,
And dear hearts crucify,
Till those that dare, ‘neath Pity’s breast,
In frenzy beg to die!

THE THING, AM I, THAT RIDES THE NIGHT,
THAT CLIPS THE WINGS OF SLEEP;
THE THING, AM I, IN SUNSHINE BRIGHT
THAT GOADS, WITH HAG-MIND DEEP;
THE THING, AM I, WITH FORKED KNIFE
THAT PRODS THE WEARY BRAIN,
AND SNARLS WHEN PLEASURE STRIVES FOR     LIFE
WITHIN MY HAUNTS OF PAIN.


The Pool


Above my head a leaf-lock’d sky,
A brown bowl set beneath my feet;
About my face pale ferns grow high,
And over all is silence sweet.

But Oh! Sometimes in dreams I hear
A shisper, then a torrent’s roar:
The shriek of wind, the belch of fear,
That I have known somewhere before!


The Vagrant

A Wind walk’d in the West
At edge of night,
While from a white star’s crest
It elbow’d light.

It to a garden sprang
And gaily blew
Warm kisses, while it sang
And filch’d the dew.

It tapp’d, with pretty blow,
On nest-noos’d tree,
Then rapp’d, first swift, then slow
And tenderly.

It leapt to black-brow’d hill;
Tweak’d glow-worm’s ear;
So damp and small and chill,
With elfin leer!

In rac’d on dancing feet,
Into a dell
Where dreams creep in to meet
And cast their spell;

And there, with merry cry
And noisy shout,
It fleck’d them hasting by
And chas’d them out!

Then on and on, with turn
And lisping trill,
It came to golden fern
Beside a rill.

And fast and far it went,
For when the Dawn
Her soft-shod graylings sent—
The Wind had gone!


Sea-Winds

I am weary for the winds that blow,
The winds that blow from sea;
The long, slow stretch of land and hills
But snare and smother me!

Oh, how can I find contentment when
The thirst that burns my heart
Is wearying for sea-winds and
Of sea-winds is a part?


Fragment

In the strew of twilight,
Through the kitchen door,
Dragged I like a blinded hare
With the wounds I bore.

Now I am an Old One,
Remembering it ...
And that old red cow of Christ’s
Fallen in a pit.






Have You Met My Buddy? (transcribed from bad web pic)

Have you met  my Buddy? Good old grub-stake Buddy?
He’s the man to keep the broche(?) from getting gay!
He’s a Yankee doodle Dandy, and with guns is mighty  handy;
He can whip his weight in wild-cats any day!
           Buddy, buddy, Buddy,
           He’s my rough and ready Buddy!
           He’s the man to finish what he has to do.
           He will send K. Bill to hell,
           And he’ll do the job up well,
           And, I say, old pup-tent Buddy—here’s to YOU!
Have you met my Buddy? Good old husky Buddy!
Gee! The way that he can fight is sure as sin!
He’s a white man hale and hearty, and he’s joined up with the party
That is out to ?run? the Kaiser in Berlin!





There’s a Way (transcribed from bad web pic)

There’s a way around the shadows that lie on the path of life;
There’s a way to see the sunbeams back of all the clouds of strife;
There’s a way to ?catch? young dream-elves hidden in each rosy hour;
There’s a way to find hope’s blossoms and to pluck joy’s perfect flow’r.
            There’s a way to take life gladly
            If we?????????in ?? today;
            If we do not ponder sadly
            On what life has thrown away.
There’s a way to battle trouble without ?fret? and fear that kill;
There’s a way around ?hate’s ? valley to the roadway up joy’s hill;
There’s a way to drive out sorrow when it ?soaks? the tired heart:
There’s a way to ???   ??? with a bit of kindly art.
            There’s a way to make life brighter,
            Be it ??? or be it new,
            And to make hearts glad and lighter
            For the tasks we have to do.
There’s a way around the shadows if we should not ??? our eyes;
We can find the ???? ???? if we turn our back to sighs;
Dreams but wait for fact and fancy’s smile within the h??? of you;
Life’s ?impurities? all vanish if we bravely push on through.
            So fall not in chill repining,
            For it ???? life’s darkest night;
            Up and  ???, and you’ll see shining
            Life’s own golden, helpful light!







When the Woods Call

When the North Wind nips with a pinch frost-white,
And the lake’s shore is rimmed with ice at night;
When lone loon laughs and the white owls scream,
And the trout swim down the spring-fed stream;
When the wild geese clang in a dawn-gray sky
And the dusky-ducks go quacking by;

When the bear noses up the moss-grown ledge,
And bucks brave death in an antler’s wedge;
When the wild cat slinks close to the ground
And hunts to the death without a sound;
When the moose sinks down in the frost-struck sod
And tracks rim up on the trail he trod;

Then, give me a gun and full knapsack,
With a lean-to tent in a neat, round pack;
And my Injun-tans that are tried and true,
With warm, wool socks and a blanket or two,
Yes, give me these, when the woods call clear,--
And a ten-mule team could not hold me here!


Dora of Aurora

Ah, when Dora of Aurora went a-walking down the street,
With her dimples and her roses she looked good enough to eat!
And ‘twas I that felt a longing that held but a hopeless sigh,
When I stood upon the corner and I watched her going by!

                        For fair Dora is a darling,
                        And the boys they sit apart,
                        With a sickly sort of notion
                        That young Dora has no heart!

And ‘twas Dora of aurora that has thrilled me through and through,
Till I’m only good for dreaming and I scarce know what to do;
For she tripped by, like and angel, and she put me in a trance,
When she smiled on me so sweetly and she gave me glance for glance!

                        Now fair Dora’s in my heart, sure,
                        And ‘til well she knows about,
                        And I’m thinking for a fortune,
                        That I would not turn her out!

Dora , Dora of Aurora, and when will our wedding be?
For ‘til well you know, my Dora, you’ve a wedding planned with me!
So just keep on with your glances, like a fairy’s from the sky,
And be guessing Time of Darney will come courting by and by!

                        Ah, fair Dora of Aurora,
                        When I whisper in your ear,
                        Will a “yes” for every whisper
Be the word that I will hear?


A Lad o’ Sixty-one

I am a lad of sixty-one,
A lad all ripe and mellow!
I spend my days in lazy ways
As suits a lazy fellow!
I let no joy slip by me, sir,
My heart’s as light’s a feather;
I sing, “Oh, ho! How be yer, Bo?”
Be’s fish or fowl’s own weather!

I travel light, I travel far;
I walk the country over;
With bird or beast I share each feast
From Hollywood to Dover!
I am a useless son-of-a-gun,
My day’s a son or whistle,
With no more care than summer air
For down of blowsy thistle!

And as I go my merry way,
My heart goes gayly songing,
With not a thing to pull the string
Of wishing or of longing!
And “Harmless Ike,” they call to me,
“You travel in high feather!”
And it’s “Hello! How be yer, Bo?”
Nor give a hang for weather!



September

September walks in rich maturity,
Her fruitfulness fulfillment of earth’s ancient oath,
Her apples reddening on laden boughs,
Her purple grapes resplendent in lush growth.

She views the fields, the feathered goldenrod,
The walls and fences where blue asters dream;
Earth’s alchemy in sumac’s crimson plumes,
The dogwood’s varnished clusters, hearthfire gleam.

She glances back, when midnight strikes her hour,
And smiles, within her heart no urge to weep,
Knowing well she will return again—
That death is just another word for sleep.


           



MIDNIGHT AT THE MILL  

Once an Angel came and said,
"Arise, my daughter, from your bed
And come and walk with me."
"But, Sir," I cried, "the hour is late
And I and my Love wed at eight
And I would lovely be!"

No will had I to call my own
Before this Angel, ghostways blown,
All sorrowful and hoar;
So up I rose and out I went,
On strength that to my soul was lent,
Through black and locked door.

And far we walked and up a hill,
And down and down and to a mill,
Where waters darkly crept.
The Angel raised his hand on high,
And out full forty bats did fly,
And out a great cat leapt.

And through the doorway writhed a snake,
A lizard followed in his wake,
As slow the wheel did turn.
A clack of hoofs fell on my ear,
And on me burst a mighty fear
That in me hot did burn.

A rider, ruffed and gray of coat,
With ribald song loud in his throat,
Did stop and crack his whip:
And out the door a gaunt man came,
Who breathed a curse, who breathed a name,
Upon a pallid lip.

The rider flashed a dagger bright;
A cry throbbed through the dismal night
That on my soul did fall.
A hand touched mine with pitying grace,
As light bloomed on the rider's face
And pierced his inner scall.

The Angel raised his hand on high,
And in full forty bats did fly,
And in a great cat leapt;
And through the doorway writhed a snake.
A lizard followed in his wake,
As waters darkly crept.

And now I weep upon my bed,
In sore amaze, uncomforted,
Distressing of my kin;
At tale I told of that strange place,
Full well I read my Love's bold face
Uncovering his sin.

Once an Angel came and said,
"Arise, my daughter, from your bed
And come and walk with me."
"But, Sir," I cried, "the hour is late
And I and my Love wed at eight
And I would lovely be!"

TENANTS

As to the Old Woman,
One said she was:
Five white sheep in a pen
And ten crows' caws.

Black winds on brown grasses;
Sick eyes may weep:
Four tears dropped on a hill
And nine crows asleep.

As to the Old Woman,
Old health is ill:
Three smooth worms writhe and whip
In one crow's bill.



The Token  (fragment)

“Lightly O, brightly O,
 Down the long lane she will go!
Dancing she, glancing she,
 Down the lane with eyes aglow!”


NEARING WINTER

Winds are grown’ sharper; stars are droppin’ low;
Out across the meadow rise of sun is slow;
But the warmth of summer
In my heart is snug:
Ain’t I watchin’ Molly
Make a braided rug?

All the stubble’s frozen; trees are standin’ bare;
And the cattle shiver, needin” extra care;
House is banked for snow-in,
Tight as tight can be:
I ain’t got no worry—
Molly smiles on me!

Beaver Brook is iced up; and the snow and sleet;
Though a bitter Norther
Rides the clouds above;
Winter ain’t no matter—
I have Molly’s love!


NEXT 4 POEMS ARE FROM HER
1944 BOOK, ‘SELECTED POEMS..’


I KNEW A TALL LAD ONCE

Who would count the heartbeats
Of the brave?
Who would measure distance
To a grave?

I knew a tall lad once
Who played a flute;
But that was long ago;
And both are mute.


SMOKE

Oh, time will come
When my hair is white
And I will nod
In the fading light,

And I will say
Youth was a dwelling
Roofed over for
Story telling;

Story telling
By one who came
And broke my heart—
What was his name?


MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS

When Mary sat in that old-memoried room,
Her needlework’s bright clutter paled to eyes
Already worn by tears, the linen’s bloom
Her trembling fingers labored for bore sky’s
Red sunset, redder far than sild-held dye,
Quite red enough to broider; then she drew
A golden strand of silk and fumbled eye
Of her old needle till it broke in two.

In silence that was cold as winters snow
She sat and stared at multi-colored silk,
While sliding shape of fear enshouldered woe
With blood-red hands. Her face grew white as milk
As silence crashed on beat of deadly drum
And she heard footsteps, knew that they had come.


DEATH IS A MOMENT

Death is a moment
Of darkness wedged
Between two lights,
One full-fledged

With human fears
That fighting fall
On the shadowed side
Of an old stone wall.

In a golden light
Comes a flooding tide
Of consciousness
On the other side.

And we who have held
To Life’s indecision,
Of the light’s good peace
Are gently given.

And we go on—
Yes, this is true—
But I cannot tell more
Of all else we do.



GRAY MAN


Gray Man, Gray Man,
What have you there?
              Withes from an alder bush
              To bind up your hair.

Gray Man, Gray Man,
What do I see?
              Hands from the couch-grass
              That wait upon me.

Gray Man, Gray Man,
What do I hear?
              A worm in a coffin board
              That digs out her ear.

Gray Man, Gray Man,
That…strangling…note…
              Hush, hush, my darling one—
              Your pretty white throat!









1 comment:

  1. Charles, I like what you have done with your WVJ blog. I hope it is getting plenty of attention from HPL and WVJ fans and scholars.
    Best,
    TC

    ReplyDelete