I'd never heard of Adelaide Crapsey until I read this blog post about cinquains, which referenced her as the creator of that poetic form. A quick trip to my library's website found a collection of her poems and letters, as well as a brief bio, and it turned out to be an enjoyable discovery.
Crapsey was born in 1878 to parents of what became a large family. By the age of 25, she was beginning to suffer from a then-undiagnosed malady that later turned out to be tuberculosis, the disease that finally claimed her life shortly after her 36th birthday.
But even while chronically ill, she was prolific. What intrigued me was that, while many of her poems were of the flowery, sentimental types of the times, she broke form at times, such as in the wonderful poem "To the Dead in the Grave-yard Under My Window" (subtitle: "Written in a Moment of Exasperation").
Or the shorter, also exasperated, "Lines Addressed To My Left Lung Inconveniently Enamoured Of Plant-Life":
It was, my lung, most strange of you,
A freak I cannot pardon,
Thus to transform yourself into
Though laking William set erewhile
His seal on rural fashions,
I must deplore, bewail, revile
Your horticultural passions.
And as your ways I thus lament
(Which, plainly, I call crazy)
For all I know, serene, content,
You think yourself a daisy!
The cinquains are intriguing pieces, short and tightly woven. (Note: the odd use of ellipses, with two periods and a space rather than three periods, were used throughout the edition of the book I read, so I'm using them here.)
Out of the strange
Still dusk. . as strange, as still. .
A white moth flew. What am I grown
Or this one:
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
Lovely work, and as always, sad to think what else she might have accomplished had she not died so young. But I took heart in finding another library slip showing someone checked this book out just last November. So it hasn't been languishing unread for too long.