To the Natural World
Genevieve Taggard began writing verse in 1907 when she was thirteen, and went on to publish eleven books of poetry and a biography of Emily Dickinson. Taggard, who died in 1948, published poems in The Nation, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and was widely anthologized, but never published a full-length collection. To the Natural World was assembled by Taggard’s daughter, Marcia Liles, especially for the Ahsahta Modern and Contemporary Poetry of the American West series. Taggard’s American natural world spans from Washington and Hawaii to New Hampshire and Vermont. Then she whisks us off to observations of Capri, Mallorca, and Antibes. Sense of place is the passion behind Taggard’s melody and rhythm, and these qualities animate this collection of poetry. To the Natural World is a book that allows you to walk with this remarkable woman, this extraordinary poet, and make her poems and history momentarily your own.
The full text of Genevieve Taggard’s To the Natural World is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
A Poem to Explain Everything About a Certain Day in Vermont
Fifty wizards working in the wind
And one tall wizard standing in the rear
Made a quick sheen to lacquer all Vermont.
Up leapt the sun. The air was far and near.
The weeds, the grass, the corn, the slipping river
Made wizard quiet. My noon-sleepy deer
Whisked in the shade, saw winsome sun go over,
And still those wizards brewed the atmosphere.
The lone tall wizard opened up the west.
Sunset made its exit beryl and sheer.
Those wizards leapt like acrobats, swinging free,
Hung their thin capes upon cold Vega’s spear . . .
Galaxies were thick, weather was clear.
Copyright © 1980 by Genevieve Taggard
From the introduction by Marcia Liles, Genevieve Taggard's daughter.
Genevieve Taggard was born in 1894, on an apple farm in Waitsburg, Washington, a small town in the southeastern corner of the state that had been settled by her mother's family. She died in New York City, in 1948, just twenty days before her fifty-fourth birthday. The eldest of the three children born to Alta Gale (Arnold) Taggard and James Nelson Taggard school teachers and missionaries-she left with them for the Hawaiian Islands in 1896. when she was two years old. Except for two intervals in Waitsburg, she and her family stayed in Hawaii until 1914.
In her fifty-three years, she lived on islands in the Pacific and the Mediterranean, in villages and cities of the Far West, East Coast, and Europe. "I rolled like a marble, from one little pocket of the map to another—Waitsburg, Washington, to Honolulu, to Berkeley, to New York, to Hartford, to San Francisco, to New Preston, Connecticut, to New York, to Antibes. to South Hadley, Massachusetts," she commented after a second stay in Europe that included the islands of Capri and Mallorca, and lasted from 1931 to 1933. And yet, in New England, where she thrice put down roots, "...it was as if I had never stirred from the farm patch . . . I know farm folks, I think, because all the Taggards and Arnolds were farmers, until my father and mother broke away."
She began writing verse in 1907, when she was thirteen. and later her poems and stories appeared in The Occident (the literary magazine of the University of California). Her first book of poetry, For Eager Lovers, appeared in 1922, and her last (and favorite), Slow Music, in 1946. In all. eleven volumes of her poems have been published. She taught literature at three colleges, and edited four anthologies of poetry and two literary magazines, one of which she founded. She wrote dozens of book reviews, many articles, some short stories, and a biography: The Life and Mind of Emily Dickinson. She was working on a new biography of Emily Dickinson, on a book about her family and their life in Hawaii, and on a collection of modern American poetry in the last years of her life.