Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Poetry - Helen Hunt Jackson

Helen Hunt Jackson began writing in her 30s after a series of personal tragedies & published her work unsigned. She was a friend of Emily Dickinson & Harriet Beecher Stowe & wrote a novel, Ramona, protesting against the Government's treatment of Native Americans. It has never been out of print. Elaine Showalter, in A Jury of her Peers, describes how Jackson was so famous by the time of her death that her husband had to move her grave to a private cemetery to deter sightseers.
Is Jackson still well-known in the US because I'd barely heard of her? Oh dear, another fascinating writer to learn more about...


With what a childish and short-sighted sense
Fear seeks for safety; reckons up the days
Of danger and escape, the hours and ways
Of death; it breathless flies the pestilence;
It walls itself in towers of defence;
By land, by sea, against the storm it lays
Down barriers; then, comforted, it says:
"This spot, this hour is safe." Oh, vain pretence!
Man born of man knows nothing when he goes;
The winds blow where they list, and will disclose
To no man which brings safety, which brings risk.
The mighty are brought low by many a thing
Too small to name. Beneath the daisy's disk
Lies hid the pebble for the fatal sling.


  1. Best known for Ramona. The town we lived in in California, Hemet, puts on an annual production of Ramona, it runs for several weeks and is fairly well known. I taught school there and the 4th grade classes all go to attend a matinee of it.
    It's performed in an outdoor setting, the Ramona Bowl, and is rather spectacular.
    The actress Raquel Welsh played Ramona when she was just getting started in acting.
    I don't think Helen Hunt Jackson is very well know here in the states though.

    1. That's fascinating, thank you! I would love to read Ramona & I will get hold of a copy one day. I wish I could stop discovering books & authors i want to read, I may not live long enough to get to them all!

  2. Helen Hunt Jackson is a new author to me. Thanks for this post, and also thanks to Mac 'n Janet for the additional information! It's always fun to discover a new author.

    1. It is, although I could probably do without any more new authors to explore for a little while!