Elizabeth Coatsworth and Poetry Swap


I used to live down the street from Maine author Elizabeth Coatsworth’s home, Chimney Farm, but I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t read much of her work. (Note to self: add that to the summer list!) Elizabeth Coatsworth wrote poetry and fiction for adults and children. She was both accomplished and prolific. Her 1930 book, “The Cat Who Went to Heaven”, won the Newbery Medal, and over almost 50 years, she wrote more than 90 books.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon her poem, “July Storm.” The imagery immediately grabbed me, and I’ve been wanting to share the poem ever since. July arrives on Sunday, so today seemed like the perfect time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

July Storm

Like a tall woman walking across the hayfield
the rain came slowly, dressed in crystal and the sun.
Rustling along the ground, she stopped at our apple tree
only for a whispering minute, then swept darkening
skirts over the lake,
…(click here for the remainder of the poem)

On another note, last Friday was the final day of school and I came home to find a package awaiting me. What could it be? I saw Margaret Simon’s name on the return label and instantly realized it must be my first Summer Poetry Swap! Yay! What a delightful way to begin summer.

I opened the package to find a card from Margaret and a book. Not just any book! A handmade-by-Margaret book filled with different types of paper, prints, pictures, etc. and tied with a lovely gossamer ribbon.

Then, on the first page, Margaret, knowing of my recent dandelion obsession, crafted and typed this fabulous dandelion poem:


Thank you, Margaret, for starting my summer off so beautifully and with such style!

For more poetry goodies, visit Carol at Carol’s Corner where she is hosting this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup and shares a powerful poem from Lynn Ungar.


26 thoughts on “Elizabeth Coatsworth and Poetry Swap

  1. margaretsmn says:

    Thanks, Molly, for always offering inspiration to my wandering mind. I’ve had so much fun making books for the Poetry Swap. Who will be next? I love giving something that I have made, such satisfaction and joy in that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      This is my first time with the Poetry Swap. I’ve always been too intimidated in the past! Your books are a wonderful, extra special touch and how I love your dandelion poem! Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Was the rainbow a ribbon that she wore?” love this voice, thanks for sharing this moving poem by Elizabeth Coatsworth, I could feel and hear the leaves “rustling” around. I was just at Tabatha’s blog reading about Henry Beston and this is a perfect match to that. I ‘d love to visit their farm sometime.
    “spangles of fairy dust,
    linger with wander lust,”
    What a magical dandelion poem Margaret has gifted you along with the lovely book–Enjoy, and thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Gary Lawless, a Maine poet and book store owner, and his partner live there now, though I believe they are stewards of a sort and the farm and lands are conserved. Did you know that Maine Poet Laureate Kate Barnes was Beston and Coatsworth’s daughter? Quite a literary rich family and property! Now I’m off to check out Tabatha’s post!


  3. katswhiskers says:

    What a beautiful metaphor poem. I love this, ‘then swept darkening / skirts over the lake’. And what a delightful gift in the mail for you! Just lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    Both poems are beautiful and I see why the Coatsworth grabbed you. It’s incandescence captured in words. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lindabaie says:

    I love both Beston and Coatsworth, re-read his book The Outermost House every few years, and now you and Tabatha have written of them and then Margaret has connected to Elizabeth’s wonderful poem with the ribbon. Serendipity amazes me! I do love the idea of that small rain being a woman, and Margaret’s dandelion “fairy dust” that “lingers with wander lust”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. carwilc says:

    I started with Tabatha Yeatts, who shared work by Harry Beston and then came over here and became acquainted with Elizabeth Coatsworth. “July Storm” is a perfect poem, I hope we have a few of those in Colorado this next week! And the journal and poem from Margaret is absolutely lovely. I have always wanted to participate in the Poetry Swap, but never think I am creative enough!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      This is the first year I’m participating–I’ve always been way too intimidated. I figured the swap would be a good challenge for me this summer–fingers crossed!


  7. haitiruth says:

    Wow! What a fabulous Poetry Swap! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  8. cvarsalona says:

    Molly, I found a line in Coatsworth’s poem that resonated with me: “Was the rainbow a ribbon that she wore?” What a beautiful description for a rainbow-something that would sweep across a dress to be placed for all to prominently see. Last night, I took a friend who retired out to eat dinner canalside. Just before we sat down for dinner there was a storm so we searched the sky for a rainbow but we did not find. The waiter was perplexed at why we would want to sit outside. As for the poetry swap, Margaret’s journal and poem make for a very creative gift to you. I, too, was taken by the language, “spangles of fairy dust, / linger with wander lust.” May the dandelions of summer bring you a wish for peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this post, Molly! I found The Cat Who Went to Heaven at a book sale several years ago and loved it. Coatsworth”s poem is so evocative, I can almost smell the summer rain! “Was the rainbow a ribbon that she wore?” is my favorite line. And what a gift from Margaret! I’m swooning over “spangles of fairy dust.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I’m going to look for “The Cat Who Went to Heaven” at my library and I have Coatsworth’s book “Maine Memories” at home waiting to be read. I just requested her first book of poetry from interlibrary loan. Summer reading fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Kay Mcgriff says:

    I love the image of a July storm as a strong woman walking through the fields–just a lovely poem. And oh my, that book from Margaret is gorgeous. Thank you for sharing it with us. I, too, share your dandelion obsession!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Tabatha says:

    How creative Margaret is!! And how apropos to gift you a fairy-lit dandelion poem to add to your collection!
    July Storm’s imagery is the sort that sticks with you — thanks for sharing it, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow. Gorgeous July poem to kick off my morning. The post-school year adrenaline withdrawal is now past and I can really get down to the business of enjoying summer, and I’ll picture myself sweeping along “dressed in crystal and sun”, I’ll “linger with wanderlust, poised for flight…” Great shares, Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. janicescully says:

    Love the Coatsworth poem, the storm as a tall woman that sweeps across the landscape so gently. The darkening skirts is a wonderful image.

    Liked by 1 person

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