By Adrienne Provenzano, Songstress of the Limbelost
Gene Stratton-Porter is better known as a naturalist, photographer, and author than as a poet. She enjoyed writing poems throughout her life and turned more and more to that genre in her later years. Field o' My Dreams: The Poetry of Gene Stratton-Porter, is a comprehensive 2007 scholarly work by Mary DeJong Obuchowski, and a resource I've turned to many times, as it gathers all of Stratton-Porter's known poetry along with insightful commentary. In recent years, former Indiana Poet Laureate, Shari Wagner, has shared her own poetry at the Limberlost and facilitated engaging writing workshops for children and adults, the results of which have been shared online by the Friends of the Limberlost
Last month, I had the privilege of portraying Gene Stratton-Porter at the Limberlost State Historic Site on what would have been her 156th birthday, August 17, 2019. I spent most of the day in the lovely music room of the Limberlost Cabin, speaking with tour groups and providing brief musical selections throughout the day.
I also asked for suggestions from visitors for words or phrases about nature. I planned to later combine these contributions into a collaborative poem and share it on the Friends of the Limberlost website and Facebook page. One of the visitors recited a poem "Be Like the Bird" which she recalled learning during elementary school. A most appropriate literary work to recite in the home of Gene Stratton-Porter, also known as The Bird Woman! Readers familiar with Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost may recall that The Bird Woman is a prominent character in both novels by Stratton-Porter and Limberlost Cabin also plays an important part!
Below, I've included one of the many translations for the "Be Like the Bird" poem, written by French author Victor Hugo. While the original French refers to a male bird, I've also found translations which depict the bird as female, so I've included both options. The poem resulting from collaboration with visitors follows. Thank you all for keeping the spirit of creativity alive at Limberlost Cabin!
"Be Like the Bird"
By Victor Hugo
Be like the bird who,
Resting in his (her) flight
On twig too slight,
Feels it give way beneath him (her),
Knowing he (she) hath wings.
A Peaceful Place
A Collaborative Poem by the Songstress of the Limberlost (Adrienne Provenzano) and Visitors to Limberlost Cabin, August 17, 2019
A peaceful place,
Beautiful trees and brilliant birds.
Colors of red and blue.
When the eagles fly,
They create peaceful place for meditation.
Be like the bird.
Create a peaceful place.