Mary Barnard

(December 6, 1909 – August 25, 2001 / Vancouver, Washington)

Mary Barnard
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Mary Ethel Barnard (December 6, 1909 – August 25, 2001) was an American poet, biographer and Greek-to-English translator. She is known for her clear interpretation of the works of Sappho, a translation which has never gone out of print.

Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship, Issue 94, was exclusively dedicated to her work and her correspondence with Pound. Barnard won a Levinson Award of Poetry from Poetry Magazine in 1935, and an Elliston Award for her Collected Poems, a Western States Book Award in 1986, (for Time and the White Tigress). Among other honors were: the Washington State Governor's Award for achievement in the literary arts, and the May Sarton Award ... more »

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Best Poem of Mary Barnard


Rotting in the wet gray air
the railroad depot stands deserted under
still green trees. In the fields
cold begins an end.

There were other too-long-postponed departures.
They left, finally, because of well water
gone rank, the smell of fungus, the chill
of rain in chimneys.

The spot is abandoned even in memory.
They knew, locking doors upon empty houses,
to leave without regret is to lose
title to one home forever.

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