I had never heard of the poet Trumbull Stickney, which is not surprising, since he died in 1904 at the age of thirty having published only one volume of verse (Dramatic Verses, Boston: Charles E. Goodspeed, 1902). I discovered him, as I discover many good things, at wood s lot, where you can find two of his poems in today’s post (the sonnet “The melancholy year is dead with rain” and “Mnemosyne”); they are as good as anything Pound wrote before he discovered his true voice in Cathay, and what might Stickney’s true voice have turned out to be like once he’d shaken off the clinging tendrils of the nineteenth century? Fruitless speculation, of course, but one late fragment raises the hair on my neck in the way only true poetry can:

Sir, say no more.
Within me ‘t is as if
The green and climbing eyesight of a cat
Crawled near my mind’s poor birds.


  1. one’s whole existence left in the combination of some few magical words, he achieved his trace ‘material buddhahood’ and that’s enough imho

  2. John Emerson says

    Hmph. You probably haven’t heard of Adelaide Crapsey either.

  3. i’ve found AC’s Verse through wiki&google books, thanks

  4. I was vaguely familiar with her via Robert Frost. Anyway, she had six more years to poetize.

  5. Stickney had been diagnosed with brain cancer when he wrote that fragment.
    Crapsey is largely forgettable.

  6. Stickney had been diagnosed with brain cancer when he wrote that fragment.
    so what? does it devalue his verse?
    Crapsey is largely forgettable.
    poor her, can’t be remembered by the modern literati

  7. The poem was inspired by his illness. That’s all I was pointing out.
    Crapsey’s work isn’t well known, because most of it isn’t very good.

  8. what’s good and bad in poetry, how one can measure and mark poems
    one writes and reads poems for oneself to honour the emotion, feeling or whatever it invokes, not to be remembered by the future generations
    if even one person reads the poem and feels the same feeling it’s enough for the poem to be written and read
    if you don’t feel the same, fine, just don’t bad-mouth another’s work

  9. The desire to be considered “good” by posterity is not the only reason to write poetry, or for that matter create any type of art. I was surprised to find out that Crapsey was known for developing an American form of the cinquain, a poetry form that is easy to teach ESL students that makes creating in English very accessible. One cinquain much linked to is “Triad“. Another form she created was a couplet form of epigram, an example is “On Seeing Weather-Beaten Trees“. More of Adelaide Crapsey here.

  10. maybe the meter, but it felt very close to me
    as if she was a reincarnation of some mute inglorious Asian peasant 🙂
    we have the triads in our folklore too, must be someone was trying his/her mind compiling them anonymously
    and from the first link, TS’s “I heard a dead leaf run. It crossed / My way. For dark I could not see. / It rattled crisp and thin with frost / Out to the lea.”
    that’s almost like how our poetry sounds (as far as my incomplete English can judge of course)

  11. maybe the meter
    The type of cinquain I gave my class was
    Line 1: one word–the subject, usually a noun
    Line 2: two words–describes the subject
    Line 3: three words–action of the subject
    Line 4: four words–an emotion about the subject
    Line 5: one word–restates the whole thing
    example in French:

    Optimiste perpetual
    Attend son maitre
    Il entend des pas…

    Perpetual optimist
    Waiting for his master
    He hears steps

    Crapsey’s type of cinquains have two syllables in the first line, then four, six, eight, and then two in the last line. The number of stressed syllables is one, two, three, four, and one. Like in a haiku, the requirements of the short format can make the subject more condensed and focused.

  12. Do the Mongolian triads have exact requirements?

    maybe there are better translations, in my language those triads sound beautiful, in translation something is lost as always

  14. i’ll try to find more and better translations
    there are many mistakes in the link, sorry

  15. Here’s a direct link to read’s Mongolian Triad Poetry.

  16. It sounds very much like one type of poetry in Old Irish and Welsh.

  17. Greek triads, Welsh triads, Triads of Ireland. Crapsey’s “Triad” seems very close to the Mongolian type, although it’s hard to tell about the meter.
    An Irish triad:

    232. Three that are most difficult to talk to : a king about his
    booty, a viking in his hauberk, a boor who is under
    232. ri ima gabhail .i. im geall no chreich. aithech do mhuin coimeirce .i.
    bodacha r a mbeithd hoa r coimeircen,o tenn ar cbul aige.

  18. oops, link malfunction fixed: Welsh triads

  19. A triad from Kemr, the Brito-Romance kingdom of Ill Bethisad: “Three things the Romans left us: our language, our law, and our will.” I can’t lay my hands on the Brithenig version at present, alas.
    I wrote a diamante once on the subject of XML for a contest. The rules were given as follows:

    The diamante poem is a non-rhyming seven line poem set up in a
    diamond shape:

    1. One noun, which is the subject of the poem
    2. Two adjectives that describe the subject
    3. Three verbs ending in “ing” that describe the subject
    4. Four nouns or adjectives, two of which are related to the subject
      and two of which are related to the opposite subject
    5. Three verbs ending in “ing” that describe the opposite subject
    6. Two adjectives that describe the opposite subject
    7. The opposite subject

    Here was my entry:

    Complex, inflexible,
    Boggling, wearying, proliferating,
    Circumscribed, inadequate.  Future-proofed, compartmentalized,
    Systematizing, pleasing, sufficing,
    Straightforward, simplified --

    I added to the original rules a constraint on syllable length: the line lengths follow the binomial distribution.

  20. John Cowan says

    only one volume of verse

    A slim one, I suppose. I mean, nobody writes that Whitman wrote “only one [fat] volume of verse”, I don’t think.

  21. PlasticPaddy says

    μέγα βιβλίον μέγα κακόν

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