Another gem for National Poetry Month

The following are excerpts from a poem by a Grace Stone Field, the pen name of Mrs. Charles I. Page. It was printed along with the Historical Society’s annual report from August 9, 1912. The recording secretary of the time, Elizabeth C. Barney Buel, believed this tribute to Harriet Beecher Stowe to be Grace Stone Field’s “masterpiece”…”very beautiful–a true artistic gem.”

In the first few stanzas Field tackles Stowe’s impact on the fight against slavery, but also pays tribute to her writings on New England and its “quaint or queer” citizens in a later stanza (Poganuc People, anyone?).

Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Tribute

Shall we twine a greener tendril in the laurel crown she wears?
Shall we add a fresher flower to the garland that she bears?
Shall we say, of one long silent, that she speaks again today?
Shall we prate of her and praise her in some trite, perfunctory way?

Nay, she heeds nor praise nor blaming, dwelling with the immortals now;
We can add no glint of glory to the nimbus round her brow–
But her own achievements land her, speaking with a certain voice
Through the lips of dusky thousands who but name her to rejoice.

Let us rather say God put her in the time and place he planned,
Set a task that men might shrink from her slender woman’s hand;
Made her mighty among women, made her strong to dare and do–
Closed her fingers round her weapon, small and trenchant, too;

And with sympathy diviner than the sympathy of men
She made plain the bondsman’s sorrows with her tiny, potent pen;
Stirred the feeble, laggard impulse, set the northern heart on fire!
Woke the wavering, sluggard conscience to a splendid brave desire.

Thus she wrote, yet lighter fancies wove and wrought within her brain
And she sketched our fair New England, lovely valley, pleasant plain;
Wrote of tender hearts that fluttered under manners more austere
Of the Puritan descendants, stern and solemn, quaint or queer.

Leave a Reply