Today is Rachel Field's birthday. For newcomers to this blog, Rachel Field is the subject of my first full length book, still in progress. She was a writer/poet/playwright who lived for part of each year in the same house that my husband and I now own on Sutton Island, off the coast of Maine.
In honor of Rachel, one of my favorite poets, I include two of her poems today, both from a book called "Fear is the Thorn," published in 1936.
This misty dawn and ghostly sunrise would have pleased her. She might also have been intrigued by my lawn spider metropolis. Here is a poem about the passage of time, inspired by a spider. She wrote it after reading this note in a newspaper (remember when clocks all had hands, and not digital readouts?):
Spinner of Time
"A spider, trapped in an alarm clock, has been vainly trying to snare the moving hands in its silken web, only to have the strands broken as the minutes pass." Newspaper note.
Wise men have made a marvel of this thing,
Peering with awed and curious eyes to see
A spider spinning silken threads to snare
The hands of time that never snared may be
Since the first sun set over Eden's green,
Or hourglass poured its measured sands away;
Before chimes rang, or such a clock as this
Ticked tireless, -- day to night, and night to day.
Words reel and blur; my shaken heart turns numb,
And the brain falters, feeble as my rhyme,
Knowing the end of such brave industry,
Of all poor spinners on the face of time.
September was Rachel's favorite time of year, a month which she almost always spent in Maine. Here is another poem that calls up almost painfully the source of her inspiration
Always it must be so, since I was born
An Equinoxial child, --
The rose I may not cherish as the thorn,
And I am less beguiled
By thrush than cricket at the edge of frost.
So must the puckered fruit
On leafless branches every wind has tossed,
Each burr and crooked root,
Each burnished berry work its will with me.
My very breath I hold
Seeing chrysanthemums all russetly
Marshaled to meet the cold.
Rough gold and tattered copper strike like steel,
The inner flint gives spark,
And secret fires only I can feel
Burn fiercely through the dark.