Outside The Lines, A Literary Column

Feb 1, 2016 by Marcia Diane

It’s February by the time you all get to see this…making time fly, what fun! I thoroughly enjoy doing the research for this column. Today I’m going to feature a poet who: “In the early years of the 20th century, Florence Ripley Mastin called herself a poet, and then she made herself one.”, Poetry.org.

I also find it fascinating learning about the arc of poetry over time…during Ripley’s life time 1886-1968, she found ease of publication, largely in periodicals. During this era poetry was a daily feature in newspapers and magazines everywhere…alongside advertisements for Pears Soaps.

Florence Ripley Mastin chose her own name. Between roughly 1900 and 1967, the year before she died at age 81, she published probably hundreds of poems in newspapers and magazines, including more than 90 in the New York Times alone. She authored several books of poetry, and her work appeared approximately a dozen times in Poetry.

While she is not heralded as a great poet, she gets the award for perseverance in my book. She and her life partner, Grace Beatrice MacColl, a fellow teacher at Erasmus Hall High School in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, were Ripley taught English and poetry writing for more than 40 years, were well accepted. She was beloved by her students and must have been that very model of perseverance I spoke of. And just to show you never can tell all her papers and works are now archived in Syracuse University.

So see folks…just write and see what happens. Now of course getting into print is a great deal more difficult today, being as how poetry has fallen out of favor…but let us be part of the great poetry Renaissance.

Here are two poems which give a sense of her depth:

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Americus

From “School Room Sketches”

A little pulse throbbed in his throat

When he recited. Homely things,

Wee thoughts like grubs, had fairy wings

For him. His dark eyes held the sun—

Mystical; in a room unlit, 5

He was my taper. And the tune

Of his voice was like the laugh in June

Of a child surprised with loveliness!

Moth Moon

Moth Moon, a-flutter in the lilac tree,

With pollen of the white stars on thy wings,

Oh! would I shared thy flight, thy fantasy,

The aimless beauty of thy brightenings!

A worker, wed to Purpose and Things,

Earth-worn I turn from Day’s sufficiency.

One lethéd hour that duty never brings,

Oh! one dim hour to drift, Moth Moon, with thee!

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As always we would love to see your creative efforts…let’s not let our ancestors have labored alone…join us in our monthly writer’s group at: m.diane.writeon@gmail.com

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