June 6, 2011

Birth of Annie Adams Fields

Annie Adams was born on June 6, 1834, the sixth of seven children. Years later, in 1854, she married publisher James T. Fields and the couple became the center of Boston's literary circle. She famously served as hostess at soirees that included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Celia Thaxter, and others. She was also a literary figure in her own right as a poet and an early biographer of nearly every author she befriended.

Mrs. Fields outlived her famous husband by over 30 years and, in that time, became the housemate of Sarah Orne Jewett. The two split their time between Boston and Maine. One of her many books, published shortly before her husband's death, was a collection of poetry, Under the Olive, which included the poem "Not by will, and not in striving":

Not by will and not in striving
Came the voices to the singer, —
Came the strange lamp of the dawning,—
Nor the tears that fell at sundown;
Not in framing tuneful measures,
Nor because of light or darkness,
Nor of silence nor of noises,
Leaped the music that subdued him.
Lost in some forgotten dream-land,
Moving over fields unplanted,
Waving golden sheaves of glory,
Such as spring beside the fountains
Of the lands beyond Kambala, —
Thus his song would come unto him,
Find the singer, who, obedient,
Labored on the dusty highway,
Waiting till the voice should call him
To the lofty steeps of song-land,
Where death is not nor to-morrow.

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