May Springs Forth in Glory, But Overshadowed by Cloud of Gloom

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, May 1, 1912:

April’s done and gone forever,

May springs forth in all her splendor

All the earth is clothed in beauty

When we do our loyal duty.

I am overshadowed by the gloom of a gathering cloud. All winter it has been growing bigger and bigger until now it is ready to burst upon me in all its fury. I must brave the consequences, yet I will retain a bit of hope. I’ve passed before. I hope to do so again. I may win after all.

Recent photo of a beautiful spring day in McEwensville. The old brick building that once housed the school is in the background.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma included a poem on the first day of each month. Some of them are a little better than others. I’m still uncertain whether Grandma wrote the poems for the first of each month or if she copied them from some source.

This month I’m leaning towards thinking that she copied them since there is such an emotional disconnect  between the poem and her impending sense of gloom.

Grandma first mentioned the upcoming finals and her worries about whether she would pass on April 25—yet she hasn’t mentioned actually studying in any of the exams.

12 Responses

  1. I hope she passes the impending exam. Like many, worrying rather than study is another form of procrastination I guess.

  2. Keeping my fingers crossed for Helena!

  3. Doesn’t she always end up passing?

  4. hmmm, this post did feel a bit sad and gloomy. Not too springlike for a 17 year old.

  5. When you’re worried about something, wonderful spring weather can pass by with barely a notice. I don’t think that I worry about things as intensely now as I did when I was a teen.

  6. I don’t have the time right now to do this, but there is (probably) a simple way to resolve the question of whether or not your grandmother wrote them. Simply go to Google Books, and search for a distinctive phrase (enclosed in double quotes) from several of the poems. If you find the poems somewhere, she copied them (although not necessarily from the source you found), but if you don’t, then she probably wrote them herself. Yes, there is a chance they are all taken from some obscure source that isn’t in Google Books, so a lack of results isn’t definitive proof she wrote them, but it would be highly suggestive.

  7. Yes, I said I didn’t have time… ;) But I was terribly curious, so I tried phrases from this poem, and also from two others I randomly selected. The only hits I got for any of the most distinctive phrases were from this blog. That in itself is only, as I pointed out above, highly suggestive.

    However, as a writer and occasional poet, I notice several things. They aren’t bad poems, but I am inclined to think they were written by an amateur poet who sometimes struggled to come up with a good rhyme. And they are a little too apt for the context. One of the poems I checked was the very first one, with the line “My diary of interesting things”. That suggests she wrote at least that one herself – and the style is similar to the others. There is still the chance she took them from some obscure source that has never been scanned into Google, but since they all seem written by the same author, if I had to bet, I’d bet she wrote them herself.

    As far as the issue that the poem for May doesn’t match her mood – if she made a regular practice of this, it is quite likely she didn’t make them up on the spot. They’d be a lot worse if she had. So she may have fooled with them in her head or on a piece of scrap paper for a few days before she knew she was going to need them. Which would explain the poem – which she intended to reflect the mood of the month – failing to match her mood on that particular day.

    Just a theory, but I offer it for whatever it’s worth…

    • Wow, you are a good researcher. I never would have thought of searching using Google Books. It’s interesting that you didn’t find anything. I’ve always been amazed that the diary follows a certain structure with a poem on the first day of each month. (I’m more of a random kind of person, and think that if I was keeping a diary that I’d write a poem whenever I was in the right mood–but that it won’t be for specific dates.) It’s even more intriguing to think that Grandma may have mulled them over for a few days prior to writing them.

  8. [...] May 1—Overcome with gloom, but had a glimmer of hope because had passed in the past [...]

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