Hello writers, this is Adair Heitmann writing to you during this holiday season. I’m writing about a little known American poet, Grace Noll Crowell, (October 31, 1877 – March 31, 1969). Her work walked into my life last month, when I attended a discussion group about the topic, “enough.” I read one of her passages and saved it to share with you here.
What’s interesting is that Crowell wrote her first poem at age 8, but her otherwise loving family laughed at it. Humiliated, she didn’t write again for decades. Crowell went on to have a happy marriage and three children, but she fell gravely ill in 1906. While resigned to spending life as an invalid, she had no desire to be a burden to her family. She turned her emptiness into plenty, and was determined to become a writer. Crowell’s first poem, The Marshland, was written and published while she was recovering from her illness. She started to write as a way to inspire others not to give up hope. She became the author of 36 books of inspirational verse and 5,000 poems. Her work appeared in hundreds of magazines and newspapers. She wrote books of poetry, stories for children, and poem and prose devotions.
Crowell was so popular it was necessary for her husband, who was a bank teller by day and a writer himself at night, to quit his job to manage her writing career. Thousands of pieces of correspondence from grateful readers needed to be answered and hundreds of visitors from all parts of the United States and Europe who visited her at her Dallas home needed to be received. She died at age 91.
As 2013 comes to a close and we anticipate the new, I’ll share Crowell’s words with you.
I Have Found Such Joy
I have found such joy in simple things:
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.
I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain’s blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.
Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell everyone who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are:
The elemental things — old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace.
-Grace Noll Crowell
Until next time, keep on writing.