Selected Poems [Gwendolen Haste]
Haste’s poems speak of isolation and hardship in the early West. Writing between 1922 and 1946, she was ahead of her time on several fronts, depicting the harsh realities of the West instead of the romantic notions of earlier poets. In poems such as “Prayer of the Homesteader,” “The Horseman,” and others she speaks in the plain language of cowboys and farmers; but perhaps her most poignant triumphs are in the voices of women in poems such as “Bedroom,” “The Stoic,” and “The Ranch in the Coulee.”
The full text of Gwendolen Haste’s Selected Poems is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
The Ranch in the Coulee
He built the ranch house down a little draw,
So that he should have wood and water near.
The bluffs rose all around. She never saw
The arching sky, the mountains lifting clear;
But to the west the close hills fell away
And she could glimpse a few feet of the road.
The stage to roundup went by every day,
Sometimes a rancher town-bound with his load,
An auto swirling dusty through the heat,
Or children trudging home on tired feet.
At first she watched it as she did her work,
A horseman pounding by gave her a thrill,
But then within her brain began to lurk
The fear that if she lingered from the sill
Someone might pass unseen. So she began
To keep the highroad always within sight,
And when she found it empty long she ran
And beat upon the pane and cried with fright.
The winter was the worst. When snow would fall
He found it hard to quiet her at all.
Copyright © 1976 by Gwendolen Haste
Gwendolen Haste was born in 1889 in Illinois and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1912, afterwards helping her father edit The Scientific Farmer in Lincoln, Nebraska and Billings, Montana. She eventually moved east, where she was Secretary of the Poetry Society of America during 1928-1929 and remained on its board of directors until 1935. Haste died in New York City in 1979.