The Power of Poetry

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

What is it about poetry that touches the soul? What makes certain combinations of words haunting, happy or beautiful? This poem by Helen (Hunt) Jackson may help us understand the power of words.

Glimpses

As when on some great mountain-peak we stand,

In breathless awe beneath its dome of sky,

Whose multiplied horizons seem to lie

Beyond the bounds of earthly sea and land,

We find the circles space to vast, too grand,

And soothe our thoughts with restful memory

Of sudden sunlit glimpses we passed by

Too quickly, in our feverish demand

To reach the height,–

So darling, when the brink

Of highest heaven we reach at last, I think

Even that great gladness will grow yet more glad,

As we, with eyes that are no longer sad,

Look back, while Life’s horizons slowly sink,

To some swift moments which on earth we had.

From the book “Poems” by Helen Jackson

Little Brown and Company 1908

First appearance in publication September 19, 1872, New York Independent

One thing I love about the poetry of Helen Hunt Jackson is the musicality it has when read aloud. Not read as one usually reads poetry, with the breaks and breaths at the end of the line, but read as prose. If you read this poem aloud, reading through the complete thought, its true beauty comes through. Try reading it through more than once. Try different combinations of breathes and thought combining. The beauty of this poem; each time you read it something different blossoms into being. I believe that true poetry never has the same story, same meaning twice. Each it will touch a different chord.

As you read this or any poem, keep an open mind and heart. Helen was favorably compared to many of the poets of her time. For some she was actually considered the best; male or female. It is interesting that Helen was so popular during her lifetime. With her poetry, essays, and novels she able to make a living as a writer. Emily Dickinson, a childhood friend who lived down the street from Helen in Amherst, did not become popular until her death. Now the tables have turned, Emily is now the more well know of the two. Each had their own style, and each wrote beautiful pieces of work.

The next time you are looking for something do to, search online for some of Helen’s poetry, or better yet, find a book of her poems, and start reading. To me the gift of the poet, and for me that is Helen, is the joy of finding something new every time I read their work. Give poetry, especially Helen’s, a try.  For me, poetry, especially Helen’s will never grow old.

 

Doris Gardner-McCraw –

also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

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The Many Names of Helen Hunt Jackson

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

Helen Hunt Jackson is not a well-known name to many. This of course is partially due to the fact she died in 1885. Additionally, she had many names during her lifetime, one of which was not Helen Hunt Jackson.

She was born Helen Maria Fiske in 1830. She carried this name until her marriage to Edward Bissell Hunt on October 28, 1852. At that time, as was the custom, she assumed her husband’s surname. It was not until after Edward’s death and Helen started writing for publication that we begin to see use of the many names now associated with Helen Hunt Jackson.

One of the first pseudonyms she used was the name Marah. In the Hebrew tradition the name Marah means ‘bitter’, which fits Helen’s life at that time. She had already lost her first son at eleven months in 1854, and then her husband, Edward in 1863. The final blow was the death of her remaining child, her second son, in 1865. According to the biography “Helen Hunt Jackson” by Ruth Odell, the name Marah appeared in 1865, the year of Rennie’s death, with the first poems published by Helen and continued throughout that year. 1865 was also the year H.H. appeared.

Of all the pen names used by Helen, H.H. was probably the one most frequently used by Helen. Of all her works H. H. is the one most commonly seen. Still as an author who was writing to be published at a time women were not using their ‘real’ names, Helen made use of additional pen names to increase her options for publication.

In 1867 and again in 1868 Helen made use of the name Rip Van Winkle for at least two of her prose works.

Helen briefly used Helen Hunt and Mrs. Helen Hunt in 1868 and Marah showed up again in 1870. There is also one instance where she used the name ‘Justice’.

After her marriage to William S. Jackson in 1875, Helen then used the name Helen Jackson in her correspondence but continued using H. H. in her writings. Helen had said she did not use the name ‘ Hunt’ because there was no reason to constantly remind William of Edward. Also, in that time, women used the last name of the man they were married to.

11-13-11 book signing 123
Gravesite- Helen – Wife of William S. Jackson, 1885 ‘Emgravit’ (As per her instructions)

For her novels Helen used H. H., No Name, and Saxe Holm. If you were to read her ‘romance’ stories they would probably have the name Saxe Holm. For many years there was a question as to who the author really was, for Helen had made her publisher swear to tell no one.

In her autobiography Francis Wolcott (Mrs. Francis Bass when Helen knew her) states that ‘she figured out who Saxe Holm was from the various things Helen had said, and Helen did not deny the assumption’.

After 1879, when Helen heard Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe speak, her focus became the plight of the Ponca Indians and from there the plight of all Native people. She was still using H.H., when her non-fiction work a “Century of Dishonor”, was published. There is some discussion that she may have used her real name Helen Jackson on “Century of Dishonor”, but instead it was used for her “Reports on the Conditions of the Mission Indians”. This was a report for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and also may have been published for the public.

The only work other than the above mentioned report that was published under her real name, Helen Jackson is “Ramona”.

It seems that the use of Helen Hunt Jackson for Helen’s works occurred after her husband William married her niece, also named Helen. This change may have been to avoid confusion between Helen Jackson the author, who died three years prior to William’s second marriage, and Helen Jackson the niece.

During Helen’s lifetime, it was normal for female authors to use pseudonyms which Helen did. Still with the use of H.H. it was obvious to those who followed her work, who this really was. According to the same biography by Ruth Odell, Helen wanted people to know who she was. If you look at the work with all the ‘names’ used by Helen you will find a substantial body of work. Helen excelled not only at poetry, but also essays, novels and short stories. She wrote for children and adults, both with equal skill.

If you get the chance, check out the works of Helen by any of her names. You will not be disappointed. Many of her works are in the public domain, but the one most might enjoy is “Nelly’s Silver Mine” Google Books, Nelly’s Silver Mine, one of the first children’s book to make use of place as almost another character.

Doris Gardner-McCraw -also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines BooksHere 
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Echoes

Post (c) Doris McCraw

Doris

Made a trip to Santa Fe this past weekend. A busy time, lots of information gathered, and many miles on the road by myself. I share with you photos and verse.

 

Quiet of echoes, rising out from land

Rolling of wagons, images lost in mist

Mountains grow – sink, hourglass sand

Ghosts in the mind, voices persist

ruins-of-past

 

History beckons, out on the plains

Stories are calling, help they insist

Aged city, feels growth pains

What is mystery, ceased to exist

aged-city

 

Time grows short, trip soon done

Will memories fade, post haste dismissed

Voices cry out, before long none

Echoes call, do not desist

 

echoes-of-past

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Doris also writes haiku posted five days a week at – http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com and has now passed one thousand haiku and photos posted on this blog. Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL

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WORDS & Women Poets

edit hhj spc

Post copyright by Doris McCraw/Angela Raines-author

As promised, more poems and poets as a continuation of National Poetry Month.

We are writers, we use words. Words are our tools to make our imaginations come to life, be they prose, poetry or fiction. For many, poetry is not easily understood. Yet, for the poet, the picture story they paint with their words is golden. Poetry like painting is using brushstrokes of words to cover the canvas of paper. Also like painting, not everyone understands. But poets and poetry have been around almost since the beginning of time. Both women and men have used the form to tell their stories. Just look at the list of women poets and you will be amazed. Here is a list compiled on a Wikipedia site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_poets It does not include everyone, but it is still pretty impressive.

Other than Helen, there have been women poets whose work brings out a corresponding response from me. I share with you some of these favorites and their works.

Leticia Elizabeth Landon – 1802 to1838. Google Books has her work “The Zenana, and minor poems of L.E.L” available for free download. She wrote in beautifully simple language, yet manages to touch your heart with her thoughts.

Sara Teasdale.gif
Sara Teasdale from en.wikipedia.org

Sara Teasdale – 1884 to 1933. Her poem “Soft Rains Will Come” speaks to the sadness I sometimes feel about humans. Twelve lines, yet the words so powerful.

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools, singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Dorothy Parker – 1893 to 1967 well known for as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Also known for her caustic wit, a trait that is a double edged sword. Hitting the truth in few words, but sometimes that truth is painful as in her poem “Résumé”

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
Might as well live.

Emma Lazarus from en.wikipedia.org

The final poet I leave you with is Emma Lazarus – 1849 to 1887. Her poem “The New Colossus” is part and parcel of America in the nineteenth century. I’m sure you will recognize the words.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As you can see, we may curse when we can’t find the correct word. We can shout for joy as the muse sends them to us, but words are our stock and trade. As these women have shown, words are powerful, use them wisely.

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Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Originally from the mid-west, Doris now calls the Rocky Mountains her home. Doris is a writer, historian, actor,and teacher. An avid reader Doris loves to spend time in history archives looking for the small, unknown pieces of history. Many times these pieces end up in her stories or poems.  Like her author page to stay on top of her work.  http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL

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