Monday, August 22, 2016
Celia Thaxter American Poet by the Sea (c) by Polly Guerin
Celia Thaxter in her island garden painted by Childe Hassam
The incredibly beauty of Celia Thaxter's poetry, inspired by her life on Appledore, one of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire, is a solitary testament to her poignant prose about nature and the sea.
THE SOUND OF THE SEA
At first glance the Isles of Shoals seems very sad, stern and bleak, but to Celia Appledore was an enchanted island, where her poignant poetry seemed to crest the waves of inspiration by the sound of the sea.
A SEASIDE SONNETBy Celia Thaxter: As happy dwellers by the seaside hear In every pause the sea’s mysterious sound, The infinite murmur, solemn and profound, Incessant, filling all the atmosphere, Even so I hear you, for you do surround My newly-waking life, and break for aye About the viewless shores, till they resound With echoes of God’s greatness night and day. Refreshed and glad I feel the full flood-tide Fill every inlet of my waiting soul; Long-striving, eager, hope, beyond control, For help and strength at last is satisfied; And you exalt me, like the sounding sea, With ceaseless whispers of eternity.
AN ISLAND GARDEN
Celia reminisces “All flowers had for me such human interest, they were so dear and precious. I wondered how every flower knew what to do and to be; why the morning-glory didn’t forget sometimes, and bear a cluster of elder-bloom, or the elder hand out pennons of gold and purple like the iris; or the goldenrod suddenly blaze out a scarlet plume, the color of the pimpernel, was a mystery to my childish thought.
A LIFE SANCTIONED BY THE SEALife on the Isles of Shoals, in its remote and pristine beauty vividly colored Celia’s poetry and prose. As I witnessed this sea-locked vista I can tell you that the landscape of the Isles of Shoals has changed little since the time when Thaxter lived there. First as daughter of the lighthouse keeper on White Island Lighthouse and then later on Appledore where her family had the finest island hotel.
AMERICA’S FAVORITE POETCelia Thaxter (1835-1894) reputation as the most popular of America’s women poets far surpassed many other poets’ names better known today. Although Celia’s fame began to fade, even in the school system that once had made Celia's poems a priority in nature studies, her poetry is regaining its place today new followers who have come to appreciate her beautiful words and poignant sentiments. And now in tribute to this great poet, may you find inspiration and solace; I leave you with an excerpt from Celia Thaxter’s poem “Land-Locked.”
O Earth! Thy summer song of joy may soar
Ringing to heaven in triumph. I but crave
The sad, caressing murmur of the wave
That breaks in tender music on the shore.