The Old Wolf (ccdesan) wrote,
The Old Wolf

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A wrong, righted.

Several lifetimes ago and a couple of galaxies removed from here, I attend an Eastern preparatory school. In the vanilla Protestant Sunday services, we sang from a hymnal that had a number of inspirational verses printed in an appendix, and one of these was a poem that - although rememberd only partially - has remained with me for about 45 years.

A hungry man is at my door, what shall I do?
My fire is warm, my loaf is sweet, and I have you…
Sufficient for my needs, but Oh! The wind is cold.
A hungry man is at my door, and he is old.
And he is weary, waiting to be fed…

The poem goes on to describe inviting the traveler in, sharing the evening meal, and providing him with a warm cloak, and ends:

That done, and he upon his way along the street
I find my fire grown twice as warm, my loaf grown doubly sweet.

Ever since the advent of the internet, I have searched in vain for the author of that poem, but recently a reference surfaced, and I learned that it had been written by Grace Noll Crowell.

Further research led me to some fascinating biographical information about this woman, who during the 30's and 40's was known as one of the prominent poets of our nation; her verses of faith, hope and inspiration brightened the lives of thousands of people who labored under the weight of pain, sorrow, poverty or other burdens.

Only today I made the connection that "Because I Have Been Given Much", one of the most beloved songs in my present-day hymnbook, was one of her poems.

I have just ordered six of her books from, and hope to find the complete poem referenced above in one of them. If not, I shall continue hunting.

During my search for information, however, I found that a previous Wikipedia article on Mrs. Crowell had been deleted "for lack of substantive content." Finding this a disgrace, I have recreated the article, and hope that this version meets with the approval of the editorial community.

Her poetry has lifted and inspired the lives of thousands. Behind the cut is the complete text of a chapter from William L. Stidger's The Human Side of Greatness, published by Harper Brothers in 1940 and now in the public domain. It's a long chapter, but very much worth reading.

Songs Out of Suffering

Grace Noll Crowell, lyric poet of Dallas, Texas, receives a flood of mail daily from many parts of the world. In a recent month over 1600 letters came to her hands from defeated or depressed people who have found new courage and hope in her poems.

Sales of her poems to American publications aggregate a total of three thousand, and an estimate of her popularity across the water may be gained from her sales in England, now nearly one thousand. Cumulative printings of her ten volumes of poems now amount to sixty-nine.

Demand did that; demand by people who have known fear and loneliness; who have become acquainted with pain and grief, or who find a meaningful expression of and a solution to their own problems in the lines this poet gives to the world.

Grace Noll Crowell has herself known illness and loneliness in strange hospitals; she has known the pain of a torn, nerve-wracked body; she has suffered long and bitterly. And out of that experience of suffering have come her rich, flowing lines that speak to other sufferers with such authenticity of fact and such trueness of emotion.

Shall I let Grace Noll Crowell tell her own story?

I remember, a few years ago, seeing a poster which went straight to my heart and aroused in me deep undertones of sympathy which surged up in me and made me want to walk right out of my hospital room to gather up into my arms all the lonely, suffering, baffled, and bewildered people in this nation.

It was a poster which some artist had painted for the community drive of a Middle Western city. It showed a crippled boy being carried in the arms of another boy. It looked like a heavy burden for that thin, emaciated lad. But he seemed to have in his deep hollow eyes, which had the trace of hunger in them, a look of joy at the heavy burden that he bore so cheerfully. Beneath that picture were these words: "He's Not Heavy! He's My Brother!"

I cannot forget that picture. It haunts me night and day. In some strange mystical fashion, it seems to me to contain the meaning of life. If we could all learn to help bear the burdens of those who are less fortunate than we; if we all could learn that sympathy for others, especially those who have suffered, would bring back the songs into our own hearts, what a world we could make of this rather dismal place.

Edwin Markham, my friend, once wrote:

Is there a wound, O brother, in your heart?
And would you have the secret grief depart?
Heal first your brother's sorrow, hush his moan,
And you will heal the anguish of your own.

And then it occurred to me one night, as I lay through long, sleepless hours in a hospital, that one cannot know real sympathy until one has known real suffering and sorrow.

The road that leads through suffering is a strange, uncharted way, old as the ages, but ever new and terrifying. Each individual faces it with dismay and, usually, in utter loneliness.

Frustrated and baffled, one is apt to lose his bearings if it were not for the light ahead, and for an Unseen Hand ever guiding toward that light.

I traveled this road with the same fear and misgiving experienced by countless others. I met my days no more bravely than my fellow travelers.

Often, through long nights of pain and weakness, I have been terribly afraid, and discouragement has been like a black fog in my throat.

I have known the depths of bewilderment and fading hope, but always something held me lest I fail utterly. That something was, in part, the love and encouragement^ of ones near and dear to me; the voice of some traveler going my way and calling back to me "Come on! You will find the light!" I have found it in the oft-repeated words of my good physician, telling me to wait and all would be well. More often I found it in the glowing words from the inspired source of all human courage: "Wait upon the Lord, be of good courage, and He will strengthen thy heart."

I have waited and out of that suffering have come strange things. I know what it means to have had the wasted years restored, to have had lost, useless hours put back into my hands filled with eager happy tasks for my doing.

I was born on a big Iowa farm. My father was of Pennsylvania stock, and my mother was a Virginian. It seems an unusual mating to me, for he was a disciplined man, with great reserve in his make-up; and mother had all the warmth and impulse of the South in her veins. But it was a happy union, and there were seven children born of it. I was set down somewhere in the middle of the lot, and a happier, healthier girl it would have been hard to find.

One of the earliest memories I have is of trying to write my first poem when I was eight years of age.

I remember that it was a dark, foreboding November evening, and I stood looking out across my father's corn-fields where the fodder was in the shock: weird shocks, standing quietly like lonely sentinels in a row across the fields. Beyond the cornfields the clouds were lowering and black, but just along the horizon there was a deep streak of blood-red, which had been left by the setting sun. The corn shocks were rustling in the November wind, and the cows were coming home. The stark beauty of that scene tempted my child heart to write a poem about it, and I did. I recall only two lines. They were:

The night was dark,
And the sun shone red as fire.

I ran eagerly to my mother and sisters and read what I had written. Alas! They laughed! Who could blame them? They simply did not understand a child's great need of sympathy at that crucial moment.

And so that laughter nipped a budding poet, and I never tried to write another line until after I was married. I was a hurt child that day hurt deeper than even I knew then. But I know now that the reason I cried when they laughed was not because of the laughter, but because of the despair I felt in failing to capture the weird beauty of that November dusk. I have felt like crying a thousand times since, because something has eluded me as success- fully as that scene did long ago.

Another memory I have of that far-off Iowa girlhood is of one day when I was set to work polishing some old pewter pots, just to keep me busy and out of mischief.

I rubbed and rubbed that pewter pot and, as I rubbed, I noticed that it shone with a beautiful luster, almost like silver, and I went running to my mother crying out in childlike joy and ecstasy, "Oh, mother, I glittered it! I glittered it!" Then I grabbed up every piece of pewter in that pile of small dishes with a new eagerness, and, as I rubbed, I kept singing to myself, 'I’ll glitter you, I'll glitter you! I'll make you shine like silver in the sun!" And all my life I have been trying to do that with life's dark experiences; with life's sorrows and disappointments. I have tried to make them shine like silver in the sun. I have tried to make the commonplace, everyday things o life and home shine with a new glory. And I do not know of any task in life that is more worth while. For if we could all see the glow and the glory of everyday things, we would all be a happier lot.

I have come to know, from looking into my own experience, that basically a normal woman desires the joy of housekeeping in one way or another. That is fundamental with her. She likes to make things shine. That has always been a deep desire of my own heart, and one of the great tragedies of my life has been the fact that, because of my illness, I have not been able to do the things I wanted to do in my own home.

I had a happy girlhood save for that single experience of repression when I tried to read my first poem to my parents and sisters when I was eight years of age. I never tried to write after that until love and romance and a home came to me. That quickened and awakened the desire to write poetry again.

I married a writer. I tell him often that I married him simply because he had words set down in print. That always appealed to me. I loved papers instead of dolls as a child. I would haunt the printing plants of our little town and bring home all the scrap paper I could- my arms full of it. I played with blank paper as my sisters played with their dolls.

Writing to me was one of those sublime things that no ordinary person was supposed to understand. My husband was a dancer, had won a prize and to me and my parents dancing was anathema but was he not writing that half-column on a weekly paper? He played baseball, and my practical parents looked upon the game as an inexcusable waste of time. But was he not writing articles for the sportsmen's magazines? Rumor had it that he went hunting on some Sunday afternoons, and with what care did I keep that from my family! But had he not sold a couple of stories to a real magazine in New York? After a time, I think he could have gone into bank robbing, if he only continued his writing, and I would have seen nothing wrong with him.

It was three years after our marriage that our first son was born, and if ever a girl enjoyed housekeeping, it was I. The old childhood joy in making things shine was still upon me, but even in a more intense form. I wanted every pot and pan to shine like silver In the sun. I wanted my sheets to be white and sweet smelling. I wanted my windows to shine like dew on a May morning; to let the sun- light into my home and Into our lives as, I believe, all normal women do. I loved my home and my housekeeping. I was proud of every new article of furniture that entered our door.

Then came the first of a long series of illnesses, and I, who loved housekeeping so much, was deprived of that natural source of joy and happiness. And most of my life, since that first son was born, I have not been able to do the things I wanted to in my own home. So in my own deprivation of this privilege, and through my own eagerness for it, I realized that I would be helping all women similarly deprived of the joy of normal home-making if I expressed it in a little verse.

Indeed that verse was my own prayer for all womankind, a prayer that they might have their universal desire to keep a home fulfilled. It was out of my own loss, my own suffering of spirit at not being able to do my own house- work, that this poem came one lonely day, and as I wrote it I hoped that it would go out into the world to help other hearts which were hurt in this same way. I called that poem "A Prayer for Womankind/'

God, give each true good woman
Her own small house to keep,
No heart should ache with longing,
No hurt should go too deep.....
Grant her age-old desire:
A house to love and sweep.
Give her a man beside her,
A kind man, and a true,
And let them work together
And love, a lifetime through,
And let her mother children
As gentle women do.
Give her a shelf for dishes,
And a shining box for bread,
A white cloth for her table,
And a white spread for her bed,
A shaded lamp at nightfall,
And a row of books much read.
God, let her work with laughter,
And let her rest with sleep.
No life can truly offer
A peace more sure and deep....
God, give each true woman
Her own small house to keep.

When my first son was born, a great tragedy fell upon me. I was injured, and my health failed, I have spent long, weary, trying months in hospitals in every town in which we have lived; three months in the Masonic Hospital at Northfield, Minnesota, four months in St. Joseph's Hospital at Sioux City, Iowa, and a month in the Medical Arts Hospital in Dallas, Texas. It seemed to me, at times, that all the suffering in the world had been heaped upon my poor back and that I, who so longed to run and play, to tramp the woods, to laugh and sing and shout, would never be able to lift my body again from those hospital beds to take my place, as a normal woman, in the natural walks of life. And I did so want to do everything that any other woman and mother and housekeeper could do.

Sometimes it seemed to me that I could never stand another long night of sleeplessness in a hospital. I used to lie awake at nights and think of Robert Louis Stevenson. I remembered a story about him when he was a boy, and was ill so that he could not lie down to sleep for fear he would suffocate with asthma. His old Scotch nurse used to carry him to the window, and they would look out into the dark nights at other windows where there were lights still shining, and imagine that in those homes there were other little boys who were also too ill to sleep. And in that feeling of the universality of suffering he got a sense of comfort, as did I.

I remembered also that Robert Louis Stevenson was ill all his life; that he went to California because of ill-health, and finally voyaged to the South Sea Islands, where he died. But, during all those days of suffering and illness, that truly great poet poured himself out in beautiful prose and poetry which, during all the years, has been a source of comfort and joy to little children and to adults. The thing that made Stevenson great was his deep and undying sympathy because he had suffered.

As I lay in my bed through long, sleepless nights I thought also of Henley, the English poet, who had to undergo more than one hundred operations for tuberculosis of the skin, and yet who, in spite of his suffering, gave to the world that poem of invincible courage beginning with the lines:

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods there be
For my unconquerable soul.

I knew that some good must come out of so much loneliness and suffering, if I could only find the way through my darkness to the light of that good.

It was out of such painful experiences that I wrote a little poem which I called "A Prayer for Courage," and as I wrote it I thought of all the hurt hearts who needed courage as I needed it, whom that poem might reach and help, as they lay in hospital beds across the land.

God make me brave for life,
Oh, braver than this!
Let me straighten after pain
As a tree straightens after rain,
Shining and lovely again.

God make me brave for life,
Much braver than this!
As the blown grass lifts, let me rise
From sorrow with quiet eyes,
Knowing Thy way is wise.

God make me brave Life brings
Such blinding things,
Help me to keep my sight,
Help me to see aright
That out of the dark comes light.

As soon as that little poem, which was born of my suffering, went out into the world, the letters began to come back to me from fellow sufferers who had seen my spark in the dark.

My dear Mrs. Crowell:

Here in this great hospital where I am living in much pain, and for an indefinite time, I sleep with your brave little poem under my pillow, and read it over and over in the long night watches. I have passed it on to other patients here, and it has helped so many to see light instead of darkness. God let you keep on singing your inspiring songs for the sad and suffering.

And this one came, crudely written in pencil, from the wife of a soldier.

He is one of the brave fellows who went out to that awful war and came back with his left arm gone, and also his health. But he went steadily on until three months ago when the break came. I am heartbroken at the doctor's verdict. We have had such a lovely, loving time together, have a darling little girl from whom we have had to part. That, also, has nearly broken us. He was so proud of her.

But this is what I want to say. That poem of yours seemed to put new courage into my very soul, and he said to write you and ask where we can get a whole volume of them for our very own. I have never written to any one like this before, but when we found ourselves in trouble like this, he said that you would understand.

These responses made me feel that, after all, I might have a real mission in life, even if I could not get about as other people could; lecturers, social workers, all who devoted their lives to the service of others, which I so much wanted to do. Perhaps I might find in my own experiences something that would help others in similar plights.

To think that I, a nerve-wracked, pain-ridden mother, who found caring for a little child a task almost too much for her daily strength, whose hours were being spent in bed or on a couch, could do a thing like that, was almost unthinkable.

The thought kept coming to me, "I would like to write poetry that will help others who are suffering as I am."

My English education had been almost negligible; I had never pictured myself as a serious writer. And yet I found myself praying to God, like the boy in Merlon of the Movies, to make a me a poet, a real poet one of the best, and promising to honor Him in whatever I wrote if only He gave me words to say.

It is not strange, therefore, that I consider my writings as something o a trust to which I must be faithful. My conception of a poet may best be given in the lines of my poem:


Out of the highest agonies of pain;
Out of the holiest sorrows he must come;
From passion unto passion he must gain
The heights beyond the heights and standing dumb
Within the awful silence of the past,
Burst into song so winged with flame so free-
That every tired heart will say,
"At last Some one has found my voice and sings for me."

In addition to the many hospital experiences ever since my first son's birth which brought on the illness, I have been forced to lie on a couch off and on for a good many years. I am still far from strong, but it is a mistake to say that I am crippled. Word went out once that I had a spinal injury, and many people have the impression that I am a helpless invalid. I am not. I often have to live quietly. Restrained activity is no hardship to me when it can be com- pared with the long weeks I have had to spend, helpless, on my sick bed.

To most people, perhaps, having to stay indoors for half a year or more would be affliction enough. But to m such a regime is a comparative blessing.

Sometimes I wonder to myself, if I had never been ill would I ever have written a single poem? I feel sure that I would not have done so, for it was out of the experience of my illness and out of the understanding that came to me, and out of the sympathy that swept over me for all the sufferers in the world that my poems have come. And, in the light of the years, perhaps the long suffering has not been in vain. Letters from all over the world an unbelievable number have told me that my work has helped hearts, and I am so glad!

Had I not suffered myself, I should never have had a word for other sufferers. It Is strange that it is not suffering of the body, alone, that my poems seem to reach and help. But there are so many troubled and perplexed hearts, and the fact that they tell me I have helped make the road easier and brighter for them, makes me know that the Lord has answered the prayer I prayed years ago that I might comfort others with the "comfort wherewith I had been comforted."

Through the long period of enforced rest, words have come to me, both written and spoken, that have cheered and helped me along the way, yet that was what I longed to do for others. God answered my prayer that I might be able to write, and I am thankful to Him.

I bought a small tablecloth with the first money I received for a poem. I don't believe I spent the entire five dollars on that cloth; it wouldn't have fitted my sense of economy, had I done so. But I always called the cloth in my own mind by the name of my first poem. It was "The Marshland' and the Outing Publishing Company bought it, and nearly killed me with surprise and joy.

The day that little blue envelope came in I trembled with excitement as I opened it. A little "oh" leaped from my lips and I cried a little when that five dollars fell out of the envelope. My husband was as happy as I was, and tried to hide his tears, as is his way, under a bluster of teasing.

Most of the things in my humble home have been bought with the money from my poems, and I have called them all by the names of the poems. Indeed, we have a house full of poems turned into rugs, chairs, tables, curtains, wall- paper, and books and we love it.

We have three sons; all fine, good young men. I never have locked the door against the family, I have written poems with two babies in my arms at once, the pad between them. But never have I felt I dared shut myself away to write. I think the fire would have burned out, had I done so, for the heart of everything, to me, has been the home. Sorrow and suffering are universal experiences, and it is out of suffering that I have written just my own experiences, reactions and hopes, and they seem to have found a response in other hearts. I have tried to find the silver lining to every dark cloud, both for myself and for all who have suffered, and because of that I receive every day such letters as this one:

Dear Mrs. Crowell:

Let me thank you for the happiness your poems have brought me. Through them I have come to see romance and poetry in putting shining dishes on a clean shelf. I have found delight in stretching fragrant sun-pure sheets on a bed. The making of light rolls is more than the preparation of food. It is an adventure. For this beautiful thing you have done for me, you have all my life's gratitude!

I am just silly and sentimental enough to weep over such letters as that one.

Perhaps an experience I had one Christmas will describe better than anything the combination of paternal thriftiness and maternal, Southern romanticism that are united in my make-up. That Christmas a Southern radio executive called at my home and asked me this question:

"If you could have just one wish granted for Christmas, for what would you ask?"

I smiled back at him and parried: "Spiritual or material wish?"

"Well, we'll say spiritual," he replied.

Then I think I unconsciously or intuitively summed up the entire philosophy of my life when I said to him, "Peace! Peace for my mind and body. Peace of mind and body for troubled people everywhere; for all people who have lonely, hurt hearts. Peace for the world our poor, tired, hurt old world."

"And now," said this radio friend, "suppose you ask for something material."

And I answered with a laugh, without a moment's hesitation, for like every woman in a home I had been thinking about that matter for a long, long time. "A new rug for my back bedroom. This one is worn to the nap." I said that because I get great joy out of new things for my home.

All my life I've never been rich. I have walked with the lowly people, and I love it. A little recognition has come to me, and for that I have been most grateful. Poetry is not in itself a gold mine financially, and it has cost a lot of money to raise and educate three boys.

However, I never find myself envying those who have everything they want for themselves and their homes. For if one had everything, one would lose the great and glorious adventure of getting things, one by one, through sacrifice, economy and toil.

The rich never know what fun it is to save for a year just to be able to get a new chair or a new rug. They never know how much of an adventure in living it is to scrimp and hoard to purchase a new dining-room table. For they can go into a store, and just order anything and everything they want. Therefore, nothing means much to them. To me the achievement of a new clock on the wall has often been like discovering a new continent or scaling Mount Everest.

It was because I had often known that joy that I once wrote a little poem expressing this universal experience of the poor.

Sometimes I am glad I am not rich-
Is It a singular thing to say?
If I were, I should have missed
The beautiful joy that was mine today
Simply because one scarlet bloom
Came to brighten my little room.

And it is strange, but when I am tired,
A flowered plate, or a quaint gay cup,
Or a new pan placed on my kitchen shelf
Can magically lift my spirit up:
Something for a quarter or a dollar or a dime,
That I have waited for a long, long time.

The reason I wrote those verses was because I realized that most human beings, like myself, were poor. That seems to be the universal lot of life. The few are rich, the many are poor.

And one thing I know, and that is, that we can never look upon our land as a truly civilized land until we abolish conditions which make it possible for too cruel poverty to exist side by side with too cruel riches. I knew that many, many mothers and fathers have suffered in their hearts because they could not give their children all the things, education, clothes, travel and comforts, which they saw other children having. I knew that it is almost universal to envy those who are able to go right out and purchase everything they want for themselves, their children and their homes, without ever giving a thought to the cost. I wanted to tell them that there were actually compensations even in poverty. And so that poem came to me.

Without exception, I believe that every poem of mine which has brought human responses in more than ordinary degree, has come from some deep experience, some especially stormy session of pain, or some peculiarly clear view into the heroic fiber of some friend's or some acquaintance's spirit. The thought may lie a long time in my heart before I can make it a vital thing. But once lodged, It clings there like some lingering guest until it is written. My poem, “I Think That God Is Proud” which has gone into many a hospital ward, and been carried in card form by many needing cheer and comfort, and has helped many a hurt heart, came to me through visioning the crystal courage of a dear friend whose husband was suddenly taken by death. He had been her world, so much so that I feared for her. But she came to me, her brave, shining eyes reflecting her inner strength of soul. She spoke of her loss, but smiled through her tears. She had the priceless gift of courage, and the poem I wrote from that meeting I shall always think of as her poem.

I think that God is proud of those that bear
A sorrow bravely; proud indeed of them
Who walk straight through the dark to find Him there,
And kneel in faith to touch His garment's hem.
Oh, proud of them who lift their heads to shake
Away the tears from eyes that have grown dim;
Who tighten quivering lips and turn to take
The only road they know that leads to Him.

How proud He must be of them He who knows
All sorrow, and how hard grief is to bear!
I think He sees them coming, and He goes
With outstretched arms and hands to meet them there,
And with a look, a touch on hand or head,
Each finds his hurt heart strangely comforted.

To sing for others; that has been my glad mission and I treasure it deeply. I think that I must have in my heart the same impulses that were in the hearts of women like Jane Addams of Hull House, or Martha Berry of the Berry Schools in my neighboring state of Georgia; the same desire to help others which is in the hearts of all social workers. Only, because of my health, I could not go out and work with people. I had to do my work in my own home, and it had to be work that I could do, most of the time, lying in bed or sitting in a chair. Those other women have felt the joy of activity, working with their hurt human beings, and seeing them face to face, of watching them develop and grow in grace. I have had to depend upon the letters which have come to me through the mails, and upon an occasional visit from some of the people I have been able to help. But I have found that my own reactions and my own hopes have merged with those of other hearts. If I find a silver lining in the clouds of suffering or disaster through the slight medium of a little poem, other eyes may see it also. And the thousands of letters which come to me testify to that fact.

I need not say that I treasure these letters. Indeed, I not only treasure them, but I lean upon them to bolster up my own all too frequent need for strength.

They inspire me to continue writing. They challenge me to keep up my own courage. I consider these letters my greatest reward. The dollars that my poem, "Vision," brought me fade into insignificance when I think of the amazing gladness it gave me through the remarkable letter I received from a dear girl in my native state, Iowa. What a treasure it is!

Dear Mrs. Crowell:

For over fifteen months I have been going to write you, but I hesitated because I was afraid my letter would not be able to reveal to you just what an important part your poetry has played in my life.

I have been afraid I would not be able to make you realize how your lovely "Vision" inspired me to unknown heights during my darkest hours when the best doctors in the United States declared my case hopeless. I saw a vision then, which is becoming a reality with me today.

In an accident my back was broken and the spinal cord severely injured, paralyzing rne from the armpits down. I was very near death. Among the letters that came was one enclosing your poem, "Vision." I shall never forget the moment when Mr. K. stood by my bed and read it to me; because as he read the words of that poem I saw a new light. I was given such strength and faith, and a hope has carried me through more than fifteen months of suffering. I truly feel that God meant me to have this wonderful strength and courage given me through your poem. And what is so wonderful to me is that those "joys beyond believing" are fast becoming mine again, because I know I am improving, and know that some day I shall walk again. Thank God for such a woman as you, Mrs. Crowell, with your wonderful sympathy and understanding.

Simple indeed, is "Vision" to which she refers:

If we could see beyond a present sorrow,
Beyond a present grief, as God can see,
We would be braver, knowing some tomorrow
Will still hold happiness for you and me.

We are so blinded by a moment's grieving,
So hurt by any sorrow, any pain,
That we forget the joys, beyond believing,
The peace that some day will be ours again.

Without that tedious apprenticeship of suffering, I should never have known the joy of the countless friendships my poems have made for me. From faraway Siam, India, along the Congo in Africa, from cold Korea and poverty-ridden China, the letters come to my door with their messages that touch my heart.

What is the secret of all this? I cannot ascribe it to my suffering alone, though that was the primary cause. Nor to ability as a writer, for I have none. I do not think opportunity had much to do with it, for I had far too many rejection slips to convince me I was a favorite of the fates.

But there is a promise in the Bible about those who prove the Lord being blessed thereby. I put aside one-tenth of what I receive, for my church and other deserving needs. Win or lose, I would do it anyway, but I have not lost. I think that that promise was more than mere writing it is real.

Yes, I have found joy in writing my poems. I called one poem “I Have Found Such Joy” But it did not tell of the joy I find in making new friends in faraway, strange places, of receiving this flood of letters with touching stories of lives, of the joy that goes with autographing my books for my old and new friends, or of sending a word of cheer where it seems desperately needed. To help hurt hearts is a joy indeed, and there is no greater surcease for easing one's own sorrows than sympathy for others.
End of embedded chapter

I am honored to have made a small contribution to the encyclopedic knowledge of the world. Dale Carnegie having called her "one of the most beloved poets in America," Mrs. Crowell's life and poetry deserve to be re-elevated to the status she once enjoyed.

And now, being exhausted, I shall retire.
Tags: american poet, grace noll crowell

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