Earlier this week, the Poetry Center at Smith College celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2008 with readings by alumnae from the past 60 years. Poems by the participants and other Smith graduates are featured on this web page. Carolyn Connors ’60, who publishes her poetry online at www.chconnors.com, has kindly permitted me to reprint her poem “A Glory from the Earth”, which she read at the gala. I especially love the last line.
A Glory from the Earth
by C.H. Connors
Our science has achieved its opposite
and taken us down a peg or two.
Our animal nature has come unglued
from ghost; we’re Things with skills and wit.
Once we had a soul because we thought
the world was also made in part
of spirit. Taught by story, art
and church, we went about the earth in awe.
Those who went before believed with ease,
an opening between two roots
gave passage to the underworld.
Enchanted bridges spanned the burning seas
between defeat and safety, peril and hope.
Of host of angels, fairy host,
song sifted from the sky or rose
in mists of heavenly vapor from the moat.
By silver water, fruit of gold bowed low
to free the spellbound prince from form
of tree or beast, or keep from harm
the peasant girl before whom all will bow.
What shall we do with all our magic now?
Our wands are turned to sticks to beat
each other off and school belief.
Once, our gift of meaning to our world
gave back the gift of meaning to our days.
But even still, imagination
lets all understanding happen;
even then, curiosity was praise.
Other favorites from the Smith College reading were Tanya Contos, Celia Gilbert, Anne Harding Woodworth (her chapbook Up from the Root Cellar, just out from Cervena Barva Press, tops my soon-to-read list), and Jane Yolen, whose original fairy tales enriched many hours of my childhood. If you can lay your hands on a copy of her out-of-print books The Hundredth Dove and The Girl Who Cried Flowers, pay any price. I’m grateful that I saved most of my picture books, including The Bed Book, a dreamy little oddity by late lamented Smith alumna Sylvia Plath.