Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Five lines, and more, from Adelaide Crapsey

Another name new to me — and indeed many are as I make my way through An Anthology of American Poetry — is Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914), a poet you can read about here and here, and more of whose cinquains can be found here. Crapsey died young, a victim of tuberculosis. But for those of us who have managed to dodge such peril, her observations still seem eerily familiar — at least they do to me.

November Night

Listen . . .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.

Moon Shadows

Still as
On windless nights
The moon-cast shadows are,
So still will be my heart when I
Am dead.

Susanna and the Elders

“Why do
You thus devise
Evil against her?” “For that
She is beautiful, delicate;

The Guarded Wound

If it
Were lighter touch
Than petal of flower resting
On grass, oh still too heavy it were,
Too heavy!


I know
Not these my hands
And yet I think there was
A woman like me once had hands
Like these.

The Warning

Just now,
Out of the strange
Still dusk . . . as strange, as still . . .
A white moth flew . . . Why am I grown
So cold?


I make my shroud, but no one knows—
So shimmering fine it is and fair,
With stitches set in even rows.
I make my shroud, but no one knows.

In door-way where the lilac blows,
Humming a little wandering air,
I make my shroud and no one knows,
So shimmering fine it is and fair.

[From An Anthology of American Poetry: Lyric America, 1630-1930.]

Reading these, and hearing them, and knowing so well my mother’s own turn of mind, I can’t help thinking how much she would have loved these lines. Maybe she even knew them in her youth. Might there have been a copy of one of the Knopf editions of Verses in our old public library? Alas, I can think of no one living I might ask.


Ed Baker said...

this Lady-Poet IS
an Original !

just from what you present
I can see and feel that


between that Civil War and WW ! period

the less-traveled-road
when she got to the end
of it (mortality?)

instead of turning around
and going back

went straight ahead
and made her own path.

seems to me that these five-line GEMS are
an Invented / Original American Tanka

... thing ?

will look around for more of her "stuff"....


I see that she died when she was 36 of

William Michaelian said...


And for other wanderers
and ponderers, please file
any further links
or inklings