Every month’s magazine delivery brought a new poem to read, ponder, and savor. Some, like A Song in June, were pretty enough to memorize. Others made the reader think. A few caused the reader to cringe. At least, I hope they did. Every now and then one of these poems makes me cringe.
While the month’s poem or poems may sit on any random page, waiting to be discovered much like today’s weekly poetry in the New Yorker, they ususally appeared on the first printed page. Somewhere below the masthead, among the editorials and shameless plugs to buy from the advertisers, you find the poem. Often it spoke of the seasons or an upcoming holiday. Once in a while it extolled the wonders of needlework or baking. Regardless where you found it, it was always there, waiting for you.
Today’s poem, A Song of June, was penned by poet Helen Coale Crew. Helen wrote poetry, short stories, essays, and children’s books. School readers, poetry anthologies, Harper’s Magazine, and Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine published her work. However, today she is an almost unknown author. Wikipedia contains no entry on her. You can find only one or two of her poems online. A dedicated search turns up a short story or two.
If you opened your much-anticipated June 1920 magazine issue, you found this poem. Not very long, it brought the joy of June right to your front porch as you sat reading with a fresh cup of coffee or tea. Here it is.
A Song of June
by Helen Coale Crew (1920)
Oh hear! Oh hear! June draweth near; I know it by the trilling clear From bluebird's breast When from his nest He rises in the golden air. Oh, see! Oh, see! How yonder tree Is clothed in white, all maidenly; While every bloom Sweet with perfume, Is plundered by a dusty bee. Oh, smell and taste! For now in haste The sun is opening every flower. See yonder rose Its heart disclose, June ripens in one perfect hour!
One of the reasons for blogging about vintage poetry is to introduce poets both remembered and forgotten. So many good writers faded into obscurity when their particular style fell from fashion. I want to bring some of them back. They need to be known, read, and remembered. Sometimes I may even reproduce one of those cringey poems for your enjoyment.
In case you wonder about this poet, Helen was born Helen Cecelia Coale in Baltimore City, Maryland in December of 1866. She died in Evanston Illinois in 1941 and is buried in Ohio. Her husband Dr. Henry Crew taught physics at Northwestern University in Illinois, and was known for authoring General Physics, a college textbook of the Teens and Twenties. They had three children.
If you loved this poem, A Song in June, you might also like Aegean Echoes, a book of poetry that Helen wrote in 1911. You can find it here to read or download at the Internet Archive. A quick search of the Archive, while you’re there, will show you several books you can check out to read, but that are still under copyright.
If you enjoyed this selection, you may also want to read my post about Hurdy-Gurdy Days, a poem about spring.