"Young Mountain Hemlock," Sierra Club Bulletin, v.10, #1.
, photographed by Herbert W. Gleason, 1916. Larger.
was one of the most influential literary figures of her era, and one of her most cherished literary companions was John Muir
, who inspired her to write about the natural world.
Responding to a challenge from Muir, who introduced Monroe to the mountain hemlock
that grows in the Sierras
, she wrote this poem.
The mountain hemlock droops her lacy branches
Oh, so tenderly
In the summer sun!
Yet she has power to baffle avalanches—
She, rising slenderly
Where the rivers run.
So pliant yet so powerful! Oh, see her
Her thin sea-green dress!
Now from white winters' thrall the sun would free her
To bloom unenduringly
In his glad caress.
Harriet Monroe included her poem in "An Appreciation
," which she published in a 1916 issue of the Sierra Club Bulletin
dedicated to the memory of John Muir.
"Harriet Monroe," photographer, date unknown. Larger.
The American dipper—known too as the water ouzel
—is one of California's most energetic and entertaining birds. John Muir
thought so, but so did one his famous contemporaries.
Long-time editor of Poetry Magazine
, Harriet Monroe
did as much to influence the direction of modernist poetry as the famous authors she published. She was also a lover of the natural world and accompanied John Muir on two Sierra Club expeditions in the Sierra
. Here is her poem "The Water Ouzel."
Little brown surf-bather of the mountains!
Spirit of foam, lover of cataracts, shaking your wings in falling waters!
Have you no fear of the roar and rush when Nevada plunges–
Nevada, the shapely dancer, feeling her way with slim white fingers?
How dare you dash at Yosemite the mighty–
Tall, white limbed Yosemite, leaping down, down over the cliff?
Is it not enough to lean on the blue air of mountains?
Is it not enough to rest with your mate at timberline, in bushes that hug the rocks?
Must you fly through mad waters where the heaped-up granite breaks them?
Must you batter your wings in the torrent?
Must you plunge for life and death through the foam?
Harriet Monroe founded Poetry
in 1912 in order to find a larger audience for American writers like Ezra Pound, Vachel Lindsay
, Carl Sanburg, and countless others.