Grace Hazard Conkling
Biography of Grace Hazard Conkling
Grace Hazard was born on February 7, 1878 in New York to Christopher Grant Hazard and Frances Post Hazard. Having cultivated a skill and love for music from a young age, Conkling dreamed of devoting her life to music. After receiving a B.L. from Smith College in 1899, she spent a year teaching at the Graham School in New York before traveling to Europe where she studied music and languages in Germany and France, studying the organ with the illustrious Charles-Marie Widor. However, in her second year she fell ill from overwork and was forced to abandon the idea of music as a profession. She returned to the United States where she married Roscoe Platt Conkling in 1905 and moved to a remote ranch near Tampico, Mexico. Conkling cherished the time she spent there and Mexico is referred to in many of her poems.
After the birth of her second child, her husband deserted her and the children, and in 1914 she sued for divorce and accepted a teaching position at Smith College. During her lifetime, Conkling published numerous collections of poetry, including Afternoons of April (1915), Wilderness Songs (1920), Ships Log and Other Poems (1924), Flying Fish: A Book of Songs and Sonnets (1926), and Witch and Other Poems (1928). In addition to poetry, Conkling also wrote essays, including the monograph “Imagination and Children's Reading” (1921). She also transcribed her daughter Hilda’s early childhood poems, which were published as the collection Poems by a Little Girl (1920). She was also a member of the Poetry Society of America, the N.E. Poetry Society, the Author's Club of Boston, and the Women's University Club of New York. In 1930, Conkling was awarded an honorary MA from Smith College. She died on November 15, 1958 and was survived by her two daughters and three grandchildren.
Smith College awards a poetry residency in her name, and a selection of her papers is housed in the archives of their library.
Grace Hazard Conkling's Works:
Afternoons of April (1915)
Wilderness Songs (1920)
Ships Log and Other Poems (1924),
Flying Fish: A Book of Songs and Sonnets (1926)
Witch and Other Poems (1928)
“Imagination and Children's Reading” (1921)
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Grace Hazard Conkling Poems
The Nightingale Of Flanders
THE nightingales of Flanders, They had not gone to war; A soldier heard them singing
I have an understanding with the hills At evening when the slanted radiance fills Their hollows, and the great winds let them be, And they are quiet and look down at me.
To A New-Born Baby Girl
And did thy sapphire shallop slip Its moorings suddenly, to dip Adown the clear, ethereal sea
To Hilda Of Her Roses
ENOUGH has been said about roses To fill thirty thick volumes; There are as many songs about roses As there are roses in the world
(Killed in action July 31, 1917) Nevermore singing Will you go now,
April In The Huasteca
Dark on the gold west, Mexico hung inscrutable like a curtain of heavy velvet Before a lighted shrine. Black on the west
I Will Not Give Thee All My Heart
I will not give thee all my heart For that I need a place apart To dream my dreams in, and I know
Oh, cut me reeds to blow upon, Or gather me a star, But leave the sultry passion-flowers Growing where they are.
The Little Rose Is Dust, My Dear
The little rose is dust, my dear; The elfin wind is gone That sang a song of silver words And cooled our hearts with dawn.
Rheims Cathedral -- 1914
A wingèd death has smitten dumb thy bells, And poured them molten from thy tragic towers: Now are the windows dust that were thy flowers
The cretonne in your willow chair Shows through a zone of rosy air, A tree of parrots, agate-eyed, With blue-green crests and plumes of pride
MOTHER, the poplars cross the moon; The road runs on, so white and far, We shall not reach the city soon: Oh, tell me where we are!”
Over the ridge at last There stood the sea, like a far blue tower That held the sun, a great bell swung aloft Under the hollow sky.
On Arranging A Bowl Of Violets
I dip my hands in April among your faces tender, O woven of blue air and ecstasies of light!
The cretonne in your willow chair
Shows through a zone of rosy air,
A tree of parrots, agate-eyed,
With blue-green crests and plumes of pride
And beaks most formidably curved.
I hear the river, silver-nerved,
To their shrill protests make reply,
And the palm forest stir and sigh.