1870 - 1957
Therese Lindsey was a well-known and celebrated poet in her time, especially in her home state of Texas. Her wonderful poetry, however, no longer receives the attention it deserves, except perhaps within the state of Texas where they are, understandably, proud of her accomplishments.
Therese Kayser was born in Chappell Hill, Texas in 1870, the child of Austrian/Hungarian immigrant, Albert Kayser and Mary Lawrence. By the time of the 1880 census, when Therese was 9, she had two younger sisters, Annie and Mary, and a younger brother, Albert Jr.
Therese attended school where she grew up, in Tyler Texas.
She attended what is now Texas State, and continued her higher education at such prestigious schools as University of Chicago, Harvard University and Columbia University.
Therese married Sam A Lindsey in 1892 when she was 22 years old and they had a daughter, Louise in 1898. She traveled extensively throughout her life both within the United States and in Europe, but her poems were mainly about her native Texas and its nature. Therese was a member of poetry societies in the U.S. and in England, and worked toward the establishment of the Texas Poetry Society which she then served as corresponding secretary and, later, vice president.
She wrote plays and stories in addition to her poetry, which she published in two books, beginning at the age of 45; Blue Norther (1925) was published by poet, editor and publisher Harold Vinal who had worked with Langston Hughes. (He also served for a time as president of the Poetry Society of America.) Then The Cardinal Flower (1936) was published by Kaleidograph press, which seems to have been a local press in Texas. Kaleidograph press also published a third small book which contained a lengthy narrative poem called "A Tale of the Galveston Storm" in 1936 which chronicled the events of that horrific hurricane which occurred on 8 September 1900 and claimed the lives of approximately 10,000 people. (By contrast, hurricane Katrina of 2005 claimed 1,833 lives.) The Galveston hurricane remains the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.
Tyler Texas about the time she published her Collected Poems
Aftermath of Galveston, Texas hurricane of 1900
In 1947 a collection of her works, Collected Poems, was published by Naylor press, which appears to have been a local press out of Texas which limited its publication to Texas and Southwest-related books. This is the volume I have in my collection, signed by the author. It also contains the Galveston poem, but forgive me for not transcribing the entire poem here!
Therese Lindsey died on 3 April 1957 at the age of 77 in her home town of Tyler, Texas.
[poetry originally published in '20's and '30's]
by Therese Lindsey
Aristocrat is she
Of all the woods, the white oak tree.
True patrician, she is rare--
You do not find her everywhere.
You come upon her in some friendly glen,
The perfect pattern of her clothes,
The ease and beauty of her pose,
From fine clean stem to stately head,
Is what we have accredited
In man or tree.
We brand our sounds and loose them pigeon-free,
And practice on them some new falconry.
We have coined the content of the wind by sleight;
We have picked the pocket of silence. This serenading
Discloses sound to be as fleet as light,
This miracle which we have overtaken,
This weird contriving through the Vast with man,
Suggests no heaven's too strange for him to reach
Or God to plan.
All that vast host of golden nails
That stay the floor of heaven.
The Plains of Northwest Texas
My blood is the color of pale orchid thistles;
My flesh is the dull red of the silk-soft soil,
My dress is the olive-green of cotton and kafir.
My lungs traffic in the steel-blue air
In my hand is a windmill,
And I wear my one tree as an ornament.
My girdle is the sinuous bed of the Red River,
My cloak is the tan of the hills,
And my cap, the shadow of a little cloud!
The Prairies From The Train
A strip of silver oats,
A square of ribboned corn,
A plot of yellow flowers
And skies that flag you on
With fragmentary shadow
That trails a little cloud
Across a quiet country
Where only space is loud.
I know a little mountain lake— we came
Upon it when we climbed the hill—
Lying in the lap of rugged peaks
A music from the Congress of the Winds
Was in the air and over all
A haunting sound, the wild sweet ecstasy
Of waterfall that filled this lake and knew
The privilege to pause and rest
And intimately hold the mirrored peaks
Upon its breast!
The rain has washed my soul white and tasteless.
I sit limp and draggled, fancying the wetness
Trickling behind my ears.
Rain, rain, measured, monotonous.
The garden things cringe wearily
And cup their leaves rusty with grit.
The birds are silent
And so am I.
How can I sing or forget death
When I hear the rattle in the throat of the gutter,
While the sky sets me her gloomy example
Holding her grim apron between me and the sun?
The Handwriting of the Trees
The winter sky
Is written fine with script of tree.
Stalwart scrawl of hickory,
Stern, substantial hand of oak;
Free Spencerian, fancy stroke
Of willow; inscrutable and fine.
Elm-tree ciphers, line on line,
Old English is the apple tree,
Scraggly, crazy, symmetry;
Elegant, superb, exact,
Just what you and I "expect"
A lady's writing ought to be
Is the supple tracery
Of birch. It seems to me
Shaded Roman may define
The grace and elegance of line
The sweet-gum chooses for design.
Sturdy, chubby, children's hands,
Newly pruned, the peach tree stands.
Hieroglyphics and Chinese
Are the isolated trees
Holding still some leaves to mix
With the black strokes of the sticks.
Naked vine against the wall--
Old man's wavering, unsure scrawl!
Bells in my fancy I often hear ringing
Whose music (I marvel none hears it but me)
Rolls outward like peals of a beautiful organ
And inward like waves of a beautiful sea.
O the remorseless beauty of this day!
The urgent wind has graciously withdrawn;
No single feather-freighted grass stalk moves.
So tangible the flood of golden light
One fain would cup the glory in his hands!