-Mary Edna Mitchell

1893 - 1972

Biography:

Mary Edna Mitchell was born Mary Edna Boothe, daughter of George E Boothe of Virginia and Sarah E Lyon of Missouri, on 6 May 1893 in Missouri. She had two elder brothers, Otis and Elmer. By 1900 the family was living in Bourbon, Boone cty, Missouri and her father's occupation is listed as "farmer". By 1910, however, he was working as "livery man" in Justice, Uvalde cty, Texas where the family had moved. I have not uncovered more about Mary's early years, but she did attend Baylor University in Waco from 1911 to her graduation in 1915 where she obtained her B.L. degree. According to the Baylor yearbook, Mary Edna was active in the Y.W.C.A. and also sang in the chorus during her college years.

In 1918 Mary married Arthur Leonard Mitchell of Tennessee. He had been one year behind Mary at Baylor, and earned his A.B. degree in 1916. World War I was declared barely a year later, and Arthur answered his nation's call to service. He served as Captain in the 358th infantry and saw action at the battle of St. Mihiel in France, as well as the Meuse-Argonne offensive in which 26,277 were killed and 95,786 wounded in the six weeks of battle. One can imagine Mary's relief when the war finally concluded in November of 1918 and her husband returned to her to start to build their family.

By the birth of their first daughter, Doris Elaine, in 1922 the couple had settled in Waco, Texas where they would raise their family and live out their lives. Their second daughter, Mary Camille, came along two years later in 1924. Mary and her family were active in the First Baptist Church of Waco throughout their time there.

Mary Edna Mitchell

circa 1911

Waco, Texas 1920's

By 1930 husband Arthur was working as sales manager at the Ford dealership in Waco. I find no evidence of Mary producing poetry until 1945 when she had a poem entitled "Memory" in the Lola Register newspaper out of Kansas. A year later she was apparently published in the Kansas City Poetry magazine. Perhaps she found time, as her children left home, to devote to her literary pursuits. It was 1947, after the conclusion of the Second World War, when she self-published her little book of poetry, Rainbow Road. The book is dedicated to her husband and two daughters.

Mary and Arthur had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Arthur passed away in November of 1970 and Mary was to follow two years later in August of 1972 at the age of 79. The poetry that she leaves for us to enjoy is tender and often humorous as well as reflective of her deep faith. My copy is signed by Mary.

Rainbow Road

(1947)

by Mary Edna Mitchell

Memory

Bluebonnet Hill

The pranks are very queer that memory plays

On unsuspecting folk like you and me:

She draws a fog across important things,

And leaves exposed some triviality.

Now why should I recall through twenty years

The way a certain scrubbed tea-kettle shone?

Or the sight and taste of one red-cherry pie,

Above the countless good ones I have known?

And why has it grown hard to visualize,

From out of childhood, faces once so plain;

When I have kept and loved through forty years

That wild-rose hedge in a Missouri lane?

I know a hill where bluebonnets bloom

In such an array of blue,

One thinks the sky has fallen down

And spread itself out to view.

Each tiny bonnet's a perfect gem

But each, unselfishly,

Wants but one place along the stem—

God's picture of unity.

Yes, I know a hill where bluebonnets bloom

As blue as the Texas sky;

A painting straight from the Master's hand

That belongs to each passerby.

A Prayer For Peace

Nature's Balm

Oh help us, God to end this slaying!

To heed Your better plan,

Of melting guns and molding plows,

Of living man with man.

Unveil the strategy of greed,

The grim and empty gain

Of needless dying. Expose the germ

That causes all this pain.

Help us to soar from off the earth

This cancer that devours,

That nations may join hands again

Around Your world and ours.

Then, millions slain since wars began—

Their phantom ranks stretched far—

Will rise in glad salute to the age

That sounded "taps" for War.

Apron Strings

Pleasure tapped at my window pane

And crooked a beckoning finger;

But dishes in the kitchen sink

Persuaded me to linger.

I'm glad my window looks upon

A cool, green lawn; and out across

Broad fields, where friendly trees

Shake hands with every breeze

That passes by.

I'm glad that I can see the sky—

The whole of it—high and wide,

Even to where it bends,

In a mother's way,

To caress distant hills.

And at night, I love

The star-pierced shawl of darkness

She throws about her shoulders.

while watching patiently

Abover her sleeping children.

Too long I knew the pain of noisy city streets,

With houses pushing one another.

Oh, how good it is for one's soul

To draw apart and meditate

Upon the handiwork of God!

Appeal to Time

Heirlooms

Go slowly, minutes!

There are so many needed things

That I must do before this day

Has taken wings.

Go slowly, hours!

My dreams are only half begun,

And as I weave with frantic hands,

The seasons run.

Go slowly, years!

Each goes faster than the last;

Before I work my pattern out,

Life will be past.

To A Poet

Our thanks to you for visions lifted up

Above the fog and strife of earthly wars.

Imprisoned by the gloom, we saw the mud;

You pointed up and showed us there were stars.

Dear Ones, I shall not leave to you

A lovely patchwork quilt—

Bright bits of velvet, featherstitched

One against the other.

You cannot exclaim,

As I've heard other do,

On the beauty of the stitch or that.

(I always planned to make one,

But, somehow, I never found the time).

Instead, you will have to be content

With these few, poorly-written pages,

And little mosaics, drab and gay,

Of memory.

But, I hope—rather, I pray—

That as you turn the leaves,

As you would have fingered the quilt,

Or think back through the years of my life,

You may occasionally be able to say,

"Here is a beautiful thought!"

Or, "That was a gracious deed!"