po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sept. 9th - Mary Hunter Austin

Mary Hunter Austin (September 9, 1868 – August 13, 1934)

Illinois-born poet, novelist, playwright, at age twenty she moved with her family to California. Many of her works are based on her studies of Indian life in the Mojave Desert, about the land and the people she came to love. Her best known work is The Land of Little Rain, a tribute to the deserts of the Southwest.

She was known also for feminist essays and as a staunch defender of Native American and Spanish-American rights. She died in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Some poetry by Mary Hunter Austin:

A Song In Time Of Depression

Now all my singing Dreams are gone,
But none knows where they have fled
Nor by what trails they have left me.

Return, O Dreams of my heart,
And sing in the Summer twilight,
By the creek and the almond thicket
And the field that is bordered with lupins!

Now is my refuge to seek
In the hollow of friendly shoulders,
Since the singing is stopped in my pulse
And the earth and the sky refuse me;
Now must I hold by the eyes of a friend
When the high white stars are unfriendly.

Over-sweet is the refuge for trusting;
Return and sing, O my Dreams,
In the dewy and palpitant pastures,
Till the love of living awakes
And the strength of the hills to uphold me.

From the Paiute.

Going West

Someday I shall go West,
Having won all time to love it in, at last,
Too still to boast.

But when I smell the sage,
When the long, marching landscape line
Melts into wreathing mountains,
And the dust cones dance,
Something in me that is of them will stir.

Happy if I come home
When the musk scented, moon-white gilia blows,
When all the hills are blue, remembering
The sea from which they rose.
Happy again,
When blunt faced bees carouse
In the red flagons of the incense shrub,
Or apricots have lacquered boughs,
And trails are dim with rain!

Lay me where some contented oak can prove
How much of me is nurture for a tree;
Sage thoughts of mine
Be acorn clusters for the deer to browse.
My loving whimsies -- Will you chide again
When they come up as lantern flowers?

I shall be small and happy as the grass,
Proud if my tip
Stays the white, webby moons the spider weaves,
Where once you trod
Or down my bleaching stalks shall slip
The light, imprisoning dew.
I shall be bluets in the April sod!

Or if the wheel should turn too fast,
Run up and rest
As a sequoia for a thousand years!


Far from the northward, from the cloven ridges,
Pine-girt, deep-drifted with bewildering snows,
By ice-plowed gorge, the leaping river bridges,
Light span by span, from lake to lake below,
By mountain meadow, and the snow-fed hollow
Where birch and buckthorn thicket mark the trail,
Spurning the tawny hills in haste to follow
The long, brown reaches of a desert vale.

To east and west roll up the purple ranges,
Foot bound about by leopard-colored hills;
From east to west their serrate shadow changes;
From west to east stream down the tumbling rills.
Mocking the shadeless slopes and sullen ledges,
Through the sunburnt wastes of sage and yellow sand,
Run down to meet thy willows and thy sedges, --
O lonely river in a lonely land!

Foamless and swift thy winding waters follow
To find, unbosomed to the wind-swept skies,
The great lake lapping in a tideless hollow,
Wanton to each day's changes as they rise, --
Purpling to meet the splendor of their mornings,
Paling to catch their tender mid-day blue,
Trembling alike to smilings and to scornings, --
Fleet light of loves, it cannot hold one true.

Like some great lioness beside the river,
With passion slumbering in her half-shut eyes,
Watching the light from heated sands up-quiver,
Untamed and barren, lone the valley lies.
Forego, O River, all the wrong you do her,
Hasting your waters to the bitter lake,
Rise from your reedy marges and subdue her,
So shall the land be fertile for your sake.

Medicine Song: To Be Sung In Time Of Evil Fortune

Medicine me,
O Friend-of-the-Soul-of-Man,
With purging waters!
For my soul festers
And an odor of corruption
Betrays me to disaster.

As a place of carrion
Where buzzards are gathered,
So is my path
Overshadowed by evil adventures;
Meanness, betrayal, and spite
Flock under heaven
To make me aware
Of sickness and death within me.

Medicine my soul, O friend,
With waters of cleansing;
Then shall my way shine,
And my nights no longer
Be full of the dreadful sound
Of the wings of unsuccesses.

The Heart's Friend

Fair is the white star of twilight,
and the sky clearer
At the day's end;
But she is fairer, and she is dearer.
She, my heart's friend!

Far stars and fair in the skies bending,
Low stars of hearth fires and wood smoke ascending,
The meadow-lark's nested,
The night hawk is winging;
Home through the star-shine the hunter comes singing.

Fair is the white star of twilight,
And the moon roving
To the sky's end;
But she is fairer, better worth loving,
She, my heart's friend.

Shoshone Love Song.

Winter In The Sierras

The pines are black on Sierra's slope,
And white are the drifted snows;
The flowers are gone, the buckthorn bare,
And chilly the north wind blows.
The pine-boughs creak,
And the pine-trees speak
A language the north wind knows.

There's never a track leads in or out
Of the cave of the big brown bear;
The squirrels have hid in their deepest holes,
And fastened the doors with care.
The red fox prowls,
And the lean wolf howls
As he hunts far down from the lair.

The eagle hangs on the wing all day,
On the chance of a single kill;
The little gray hawk hunts far and wide
Before he can get his fill.
The snow-wreaths sift,
And the blown snows drift
To the canyons deep and still.