For some, the lively colors of California's natural landscape are its most rermarkable features, features that have often attracted the admiring eye of gifted writers astonished by the variety of hues.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
moved from Connecticut
to California to reclaim her health. Though she devoted her attention to a number of social causes, she still found time to celebrate her adopted state's natural beauty, as in this 1915 poem, "California Colors."
I came from Santa Barbara
I went to San Jose,
Blue sky above—blue sea beside,
Wild gold along the way—
The lovely lavish blossom gold
Ran wild along the way.
The purple mountains loomed beyond,
"Eucalyptus Trees," painted by Aaron Kilpatrick, 1909. Larger.
The soft hills rolled between,
From crest to crest, like smoke at rest,
The eucalyptus screen
Its careless foliage drifting by
Against that all-enfolding sky
In dusky glimmering green;
With live-oak masses drowsing dark
On the slopes of April green;
More joy than any eye can hold,
Not only blue, not only gold,
But bronze and olive green.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was one of the leading feminist writers of her time. A gifted poet and fiction writer, she also penned the influential Women and Economics
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, c. 1900. Larger.
By the waning years of the nineteenth century, the Golden State had already been home to a number of feminist writers. But few were more prominent in their time than Charlotte Perkins Gilman
, who came to California in 1888.
Best known today for her novella The Yellow Wall-Paper
and her Utopian novel, Herland
, Gilman was also the author of hundreds of poems, like the satiric "Matriatism
Small is the thought of "Fatherland,"
With all its pride and worth;
With all its history of death;
Of fire and sword and wasted breath—
By the great new thought which quickeneth—
The thought of "Mother Earth."
Man fights for wealth and rule and pride,
For the "name" that is his alone;
Comes woman, wakening to her power,
Comes woman, opening the hour
That sees life as one growing flower,
All children as her own.
Fathers have fought for their Fatherland
With slaughter and death and dearth,
But mothers, in service and love's increase,
Will labor together for our release,
From war-stained past to a world at peace,
Our fair, sweet Mother Earth.
Although Gilman's literary reputation languished after her death in 1935, lately she has drawn the interest of contemporary readers who find new relevance in her work. She has even been named one of the most influential women of the twentieth century