THE JOURNEY, a poem by Frances Farmer

“not that I speak in respect of want…”

If in Seattle then, the rain
Still mingles in the trees,
Mixed with the dank and dearly loved grey spume
Off Puget Sound.
Who will remember?
I feel the source but I long since
Have torn myself away,
Against the rock and rain of other shores
My roots are breaking.
Oh mother who so closely clung,
And fiercely fought the native years,
How can it be that only in defeat
You found your strength?
Retreat, retreat in peace and grieve,
The grey sky covers all, and still it rains
On Puget Sound
And still the tree lies shattered.

“but I have learned …”

Along the rim of Hawks Nest Bay
A growth of trees drop shade,
The red ant swarms,
Green water hisses over the reef,
And I walk naked along the shore.
As smooth, as white as snow,
The sand stretched under the sun,
Black aching shoulders of rock rise in the silence.
Where is the island of peace,
The green hill with grasses?
Deep in the dangerous sea
The shark fin passes.

“In whatsoever state I am …”

Now richly droops wisteria bloom,
While elegant bugs, on separate flourishing leaf,
Luxuriously maneuver.
If we are silent while we feel
How quiet is the night with jasmine,
How sweet the scent of rain upon the pepper tree,
If we but hold our breaths,
One second, while the wind is busy out to sea,
How sharp will seem the sting
Of slug and ant and snail attacking blossoms.

“therewith to be content …”

The day breaks,
Out of infinity
And across the stunning fire and blue of sunrise
Death approaches.
Now I deny the dream, now I see how pitifully I fail.
Let the earth rising up to greet this landing
Reject me, let the winds
Move in out of space and claim me,
Let it cease, let it finish, let me not face this mystery.
But the plane landed.
Goodbye she said, into the day’s brightness.
The plane departed

Tongues of Angels

was Frances’ live 1958 appearance on CBS’ Studio One, in which she co-starred with Margaret O’Brien, James MacArthur and Leon Ames.

Ad for a September 14, 1940 broadcast

Gorgeous 1941 Hurrell of Frances

Extremely rare advertisement for a pre-Broadway performance of the Broadway-bound Hemingway play The Fifth Column, which Frances left before it opened on Broadway