It’s Thursday! Today you get a poetic throwback, because my heart is feeling full and all I want to do these days is sit outside with the moon in the warm summer breeze and forget my to-do list. But these words bring the moon a little closer and make me forget that I live in a concrete city. The woman behind these words? I’m glad you asked.
Pauline Johnson was a Canadian poet and performer who is most remembered for her works about her Aboriginal heritage. Her father was a Mohawk Chief and her mother was an English immigrant. Both her parents were discouraged by their families to get married for fear that their mixed race children would not be accepted by either culture. Pauline was legally considered Mohawk under British law, but because her mother was not Mohawk, she was excluded from important aspects of the tribe’s matrilineal culture.
When her father died, Pauline supported her mother and siblings by performing her poetry. She soon discovered that she loved the stage and the stage loved her.
I could go on and on with the little details that I found on the internet, but I think we would all rather read Pauline’s words than mine. I don’t understand how she does it, but her words instantly transport me to my happy place. Her tone is heartbreaking and yet beautifully hopeful at the same time. Enjoy your Thursday and enjoy Pauline’s masterpieces.
FIRE-FLOWERS – Pauline Johnson
And only where the forest fires have sped,
Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,
And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
It hides the scars with almost human hands.
And only to the heart that knows of grief,
Of desolating fire, of human pain,
There comes some purifying sweet belief,
Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief.
And life revives, and blossoms once again.
AT SUNSET – Pauline Johnson
To-night the west o’er-brims with warmest dyes;
Its chalice overflows
With pools of purple colouring the skies,
Aflood with gold and rose;
And some hot soul seems throbbing close to mine,
As sinks the sun within that world of wine.
I seem to hear a bar of music float
And swoon into the west;
My ear can scarcely catch the whispered note,
But something in my breast
Blends with that strain, till both accord in one,
As cloud and colour blend at set of sun.
And twilight comes with grey and restful eyes,
As ashes follow flame.
But O! I heard a voice from those rich skies
Call tenderly my name;
It was as if some priestly fingers stole
In benedictions o’er my lonely soul.
I know not why, but all my being longed
And leapt at that sweet call;
My heart outreached its arms, all passion thronged
And beat against Fate’s wall,
Crying in utter homesickness to be
Near to a heart that loves and leans to me.
MOONSET – Pauline Johnson
Idles the night wind through the dreaming firs,
That waking murmur low,
As some lost melody returning stirs
The love of long ago;
And through the far, cool distance, zephyr fanned.
The moon is sinking into shadow-land.
The troubled night-bird, calling plaintively,
Wanders on restless wing;
The cedars, chanting vespers to the sea,
Await its answering,
That comes in wash of waves along the strand,
The while the moon slips into shadow-land.
O! soft responsive voices of the night I join your minstrelsy,
And call across the fading silver light
As something calls to me;
I may not all your meaning understand,
But I have touched your soul in shadow-land.