Daniel Hoffman on Elizabeth McFarland
As the poetry editor of the Ladies Home Journal from 1948-1962, Elizabeth McFarland, "published some 900 poems by authors like Maxine Kumin, Randall Jarrell, W. H. Auden, John Updike, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Marianne Moore," as an article in the New York Times noted in 2005.
Daniel Hoffman's essay, available as a pdf below, recounts this period in McFarland's life as both an editor and a poet herself. Hoffman's essay was originally published as the introduction to Over the Summer Water, a collection of poems by Farland, from which the two poems below appear.
Read the essay.
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Two Voicesby Elizabeth McFarland
When we were young
Old talk pleased best:
Immortality, or Fate,
The Will or the State--
And the high-thinking rest.
Now all that's past
And I ponder late
One theme: how young
Are the wild apples hung
High on Time's breast!
Sir, those long walks
When we two strayed
Deep in the briars
Of Philosophy's glade,
To rest at last
On sweetmoss stone--
Those talks were abstract
For you alone:
My words were curved,
And all my wit
Sprang from your heart
And aimed at it.
Over the Summer Waterby Elizabeth McFarland
Summer distances do not alarm
When water fills them;
The eye drinks, feels no harm,
Rinses, and spills them,
While the heart, little red canoe,
Over the resonant river races,
Calling Darling! Clementine! Lou!
O Boy in the boater and braces!
Summer people, like daguerreotypes, don't face;
They are watermarked, and that is that--
Professor and Mrs. Pew on the Esplanade,
Old Mrs. Ferris's hat. . .
The Fat Boy. . . the Twins. . . the Sophomore. . .the Beaux. . .
The Belles in their bright boasting dresses-
Memory wears retrospective clothes,
Slim waists, and (preferably) long tresses.
Summer quivers over the water on a banjo ping,
Is magnified, and roars to shore;
A myriad lost voices in community sing
O my Darling! O Clementine! No more. . .
For water is ghost-freighted with memory;
It widens in rings beyond telling
Where time's old excursioners go down to sea,
Their scarves and their bannerets swelling.
Poems reprinted from Over the Summer Water by Elizabeth McFarland (Orchises Press, 2008). Copyright 2008 by Daniel G. Hoffman, Trustee, Estate of Elizabeth McFarland Hoffman. Reprinted with permission.
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