Comments on My Book ''Touch of Wings''

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"I love your book, Touch of Wings, and it is just that, just as if angelic companions had lifted me up to a plane of compassion and beauty and serenity that we seldom function on for very long at a time, yet that to which we aspire always. Such exaltation actually hurts, if you know what I mean, perhaps hurts because we realize our present limitations at such moments. I feel impelled to say, the Christ in me greets the Christ in you." —Rexford Sharp, Editor, The American Bard

"Your wonderful book, Touch of Wings, arrived in the mail yesterday. Leda and the girls enjoyed it so much that I didn't have a chance at it until today. It is really choice. I agree fully with the truly remarkable and highly complimentary, well deserved statements about you printed on the book cover. I'm really proud as punch to have you as my sister." —Your brother, Reuben (Dr. Reuben D. Law)

"Your lovely book came yesterday. I salute you! I did not realize how fine a poet you are! You deserve every word that Lilith wrote about you on the cover. You have not only a beautiful mind, but a brilliant one. Thank you from my heart. And your Frances is truly lovely." —Doris Owens

"I love your book very much. It would be hard to pick out my first, second and third choices, for I have so many favorites. You have done an excellent job on the book, and it will be enjoyed by those who appreciate good poems.

"Among my favorites are 'Will Lead Me Through,' 'In the Quiet Harbor,' 'Where April Sings Forever,' 'April Begins her Review,' 'Song of Willow Tree,' 'This is mine to Hold.' I also liked 'Virtue' and 'Keep Your Eyes on the Stars,' and Frances' 'Picture among the Iris.' I liked the patterns which were different to me: 'A Place Apart,' 'Bronze Hour,' 'Could I Awake to This,' 'Lingering Mystery,' 'Fashion a Star,' to name a few. Your book is deserving of the best." —Frances Yost

"I received your book and am enjoying it very much. I would not presume to criticize such a splendid collection of poems, and it is hard to choose favorites. I think I like the last section best, though." &mdash' Sudie Hager, Poet Laureate of Idaho, Kimberly, Idaho

"I have just finished reading your book and how I enjoyed your poems! Your love of nature, your vividness of color, your daintiness of touch are most evident. April must be your favorite month.... I was much impressed by your poems: "I Touched Her Worn Still Hands,' 'Nancy Hanks Lincoln,' 'A King Is Born," 'Good Night, My Son,' 'Virtue.' In fact it is almost impossible to select those I liked best. I was especially pleased to read your poem to Snow Longley Housh and to note the dedication of your book to her." — Evaline Dowling (G. Perry gave her my book.)

"I do so appreciate your lovely book of poems Touch of Wings. I love the 'feel' of your poems and see that you too love 'Willow Trees.' In that we are kin. I shall enjoy many happy times with you through your book. —Ruth I. Rea

"My good wife and I are very much thrilled over your book. We are impressed with your versatility, your fine poetic understanding, your success in placing your lines in publications, and the great number of poems written and collected in this fine book.... You mention the killdeer. I do not know whether we have those birds here or not. One of my boyhood memories is the cry of the killdeer on my grandfather's farm back in Ohio.... A real poet." —Paul P. Wentz

"Your fine book of poems came recently. They are lovely, helpful and beautiful. You must be a wonderful person and it is indeed a rare gift that you have, and can share with others." —Hazel B. Strickland

"In receiving Touch of Wings I feel I have a treasure book. You speak from the heart and have a beautiful spiritual touch in your work.... What a lover of nature you are! I am too, the difference between us, you can express your thoughts in poetry, while I, fortunately am able to enjoy it. All your poems have appealed to me, whether reflecting the beauty of nature or some of the deep experiences of life. In all of them you sound a note that sings its way to people's hears. May you ever be favored to express your thoughts in the language of the poet and thus help this tired world of ours with your songs. You are in very truth a poet of a high order with vision and breadth of view.... You make me feel the scene 'From a Brimming Heart' and make me want to 'hear the silent singing of the stars.'" —Gratefully yours, Elizabeth Boylan

Dear Mabel, Thanks for your lovely gift. I've read it several times and judging from the standpoint of all who may read it, I would list my choices as follows: "A King Is Born," "Shine Softly Stars," "His Were Patient Feet." From a selfish standpoint I would choose: "Lonely Homestead," "Aspen Grove," and "Some Things Are Timeless." Many times in my youth I drank water from that spring that trips across the road into the aspen grove, and grabbed a wild rose as we ten drove by in the "White Top." —Love, Your Sister, Stella.

"I want you to know that it was pure joy to review your find book and it would have pleased me to write more—much more about it. However we reviewers are restricted (and frustrated) by lack of space; I am reminded often by my editors to 'make them shorter'— so I'm sure you understand.... I admire your courage in keeping on in the face of sorrow and physical weakness.... I loved the poem, 'The Hour I Touched a Dream'—it ways what every poet feels in those precious moments of inspiration. I like all your poems. You are a great poet." —Lucille Evans, Book Reviewer

Your book came today, and I have read every word of it. First I like your suggestive title with its imaginative touch. Then I was interested in Lucille Evans' review. I know her very well. I liked your arrangement of themes, suggestive of your interests and experiences, and the artistry of your varied patterns.... Your patterns are easy and flowing without jingling. They fall into the background, as they should, They are an unobtrusive setting for your pictures. Of course your imagery is outstanding. I checked many places such as, "death, the kind physician," "My companion was Peace, who lightened my load." I especially liked the last stanza on p. 74 because it carries the feeling of personal sorrow carried over into a universal home.... the imaginative treatment of the story of the birth of Jesus in "Shine Softly Stars," is very good, and fits in with the Christmas theme. The last two lines of "With Never a Backward Glance" (p. 57) are strikingly dramatic.... The second stanza of "upon the Lap of Spring" is especially striking in its imagery.... I liked your theme titles too. That arrangement adds to the interest of the book. I liked your account of the beginnings of your church in the long poem "Miracle of the Gulls," the facts given in an imaginative way, as is the way of poets.

Personally, I am deeply touched by the dedication to me. You have given me an entirely new experience, one that until I actually saw the statement seemed too good to be true. Thank you even more for our enduring friendship. How odd it seems that my little word or two on your Word Weaver poem started all this. I hardly suppose we can meet in this world unless you sometime take a trip to California, but not meeting does not affect the tie between us. I know I encouraged you to go on, and have made suggestions that perhaps have helped you along the way, but yours was the gift that has made your poetry so beautiful. I like to feel that your daughter carried on something of that gift in her famous speech. As I looked at her picture, it seems to me she is maturing in her expression.

It is just a childish feeling, but I felt happy to see your poem to me and the one to Grant so close together. I shall share your poems with friends on many occasions.

—Snow Longley Housh

(For years Snow Longley Housh has helped me out of the graciousness of her heart—free—with my poems through the mails. A warm love has grown between us.)

Our best wishes to you, Mrs.Atkinson, for your precious book. Many of the poems touch an answering chord in me. I'm keeping it beside my bed, and having read them all through, I pick it up and read a few at a time. One of these days I am going to take "Good Night My Son" to our very dear friends who lost their fifteen year old son the week before Christmas. —Mrs. Jessie Cushing (for Glen too)

Dear Child, I am filled with wonder that anyone could pour forth from his or her soul so much understanding love, heavenly sympathy, trustful hope, brotherly cheer, and devotion to duty as you have expressed in sublimely fitting phrases, picturing life in so many expressions, adjectivally. I'm sure you sit by a fountain of inspiration—though you pay for it with pain! You have a feeling for all beauty—eyes to catch all glories in nature.

I read aloud to my Gracie most of one day. We sort o' cried our joy of understanding. And I read again the next day. Dear Mabel, Grace and I thank you for your listening ears, your far-seeing eyes and your love for all loveliness. Now may the peace that all would know fill your soul.

Which poems do I like best? Yours! Which of yours? The one I read last. Which did I read last? Was it about nature's beauty? About manly duty? I don't know yet—Let me open your Touch of Wings again.

So glad this lovely work is dedicated to Mrs. Housh.... I love your enes and Frances! I love you indeed. —Georgia (Georgia Belle Perry, a lovely lovely friend and delightful!)

Jan. 13, 1957
.... But now to the beautiful gift that came to us, your book Touch of Wings. The cover is charming in its soft light blue and silver, and what it contains is, from my brief glimpse to the moment of writing something to be proud of. While I enjoyed your former volume and admired a number of the poems, I felt it was a foretaste of even better things to come. This is the fulfilling of that intimation, if my as yet cursory survey is correct. And I have a feeling it is. You show growth in power and skill in expressing those fine sentiments of yours and those delicate poetical ideas. I am delighted at this progress, often lacking in successive books by authors whose first attempts are promising, perhaps, but remain so and no more, on a sort of plateau or plain or valley, according to the merit. Your progress indicates the real divine unrest of the artist who has genuine talent and the capacity for working perseveringly at sharpening his tools and gaining better mastery of them and increasing his sensitivity to life around and within him. To pick out one or two poems from the rest would be to slight them—the rest; and I should like to have further opportunity of reading them at leisure before commenting on them in particular. That further survey will be a pleasure, I am sure, and some later note can take on that risky task of mentioning certain poems which seem outstanding to me. You may rest assured that those unmentioned are good, too. Thank you from us all for this generous gift of your best work, this spiritual offspring. It is a treasure we shall all esteem, and it was so sweet of you to include us all in the presentation note.... May your star continue to rise. It is already gloriously shining. —Robert J. Richardson

Jan. 31, 1957
Having finally had a chance to finish reading your fine second volume Touch of Wings, I am happy to repeat my first expression of pleasure on opening it and briefly skimming through its delightful pages. And what a happy surprise it was to come on Frances' portrait among the Iris, fresh and strong and wholesome in her loveliness! That was a happy inspiration.

As you asked me to make selections according to preference, I shall try, though this is a somewhat difficult task to carry through on a strictly 1, 2, 3 basis, as a number have almost equal appeal for me. The "Miracle of the Gulls," however, seems a pretty outstanding first. Here you have told a stirring tale well and woven about it much poetical expression, carrying throughout the glory of that Mormon hymn "All Is Well" that never fails to thrill us on their program. Among your sonnets there are many lovely ones, but perhaps "Nancy Hanks Lincoln" does as much as any to call out for my vote. As for the short lyrics "Gently Gently Row" is outstanding, I think for sheer beauty and tenderness. "How Granny Loved April!" is dear, too. I am fond of "Upon the Lap of Spring" and "I Heard a New Bird Singing" among your free verse examples; and "Open Gate" and "Song on O Sea!" are strongly appealing to me. There are many others I might with almost equal right mention as especially pleasing, but these will give you an idea. You are surely to be complimented on the strength interwoven with delicacy in much of your work. You are showing signs of real growth of your powers, I feel sure. Thank you most heartily for your kindness in sending this volume of your treasures. —Robert J. Richardson, 4403 Walnut Street, Route 1, Soquel, California

Nov. 26, 1955
How I have enjoyed reading your lovely, lovely Inviolate Eden! Because I too have known "the shadowed years," is doubtless the reason I especially love— "Smiling He Comes," "I Shall Keep Faith," "To My Son," "White Carillons," "Letter from Korea"— "Hope" says so much in a few words, and says it so beautifully. "Ride Often Darling"—this is just perfect, and I could wish I might have written it myself! And in lighter vein—"Granny's Rosy Glasses."— But all—every one—is excellent—the work of a very skillful poet—as you are. —Louise Preston Greene.

Apr. 15, 1957
I was interested to see how you continued to bring more and more depth into your poetry as you went along—in Touch of Wings. The book makes one think of a musician who sits down to compose. His fingers run idly over the keys for awhile, then he strikes a melody. Little by little that melody develops until suddenly it bursts into song that ends on a note of triumph. —Zula Hall, Poet Laureate of MFCP

Aug. 26, 1957
I can see why your book Touch of Wings has given inspiration to many, for you have given of the beauty of yourself, and that is much. I can see too in your technique that you have had the kind of instruction and criticism which I also had from Snow—and that you love the sonnet form as I do. You too love the Lord God and nature, which reveals Him, though of course the nature we see is interestingly different in our different parts of the country. I have enjoyed your pleasure in the changes of the seasons—more obvious where you are. And I loved your seeing April in December, and your "lark-flute rhapsody recorded on the microfilm of thought." May the "rinsed voice of the lark" ever sing in your heart! —Admiringly yours, Helen M. Salisbury

P.S. Here are just a few of the poems I enjoyed most though I am tempted to mention many more: "Song of Willow Trees," "Lift Your Eyes," "Eternal Summer," "When Autumn Flames," "With Circling Wings," "In the Quiet Harbor," "Gently, Gently Row," "Poet-Teacher," "With Never a Backward Glance," "Miracle of the Gulls," "Young God," "To You Who Wear White Cloaks," "The Colored Sergeant," "Leave Me This Last Shred of Hope," "Song of Pinioned Courage," "Upon the Lap of Spring." —820 South Lucerne Boulevard, Los Angeles 5, California

You have a wonderful gift. Your poems touch the heart and you write with a freshness using few trite expressions. Among so many lovely expressions of things I have felt within my soul it is difficult to pick out a few and say, I like these best. Perhaps your "Good Night My Son," touched me the most deeply, "Miracle of the Gulls" tells in a wonderfully fine manner the story my mother told me as a child and which I heard again but recently when I visited Temple Square in April. I am not a member of the Latter-day Saint Church but feel most kindly and have a great admiration for its people. "From a Brimming Heart" especially the last verse says just what I would like to say. "Bronze Hour" intrigues as does "Lingering Mystery." I should never have thought that any poem could contain so many repetitions without being repetitious but it is charming. I wish I had read your "I Must Choose" when I was young. I could go on and on for I too have "heard the singing of the stars" and believe as you do that we toil to heal the greed-made scars. God bless you. —Grace Pratt (Grace Roffey Pratt) R.2. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

You have not allowed the dark forebodings of so many modern writers dim the pearls of faith that are embedded within all of your poems.... Your "Temple Bells" and "Restoring Bombed Areas" are both heart rending and strike me as being outstanding. What imagery and love found in your poems "Lincoln" and "Nancy Hanks Lincoln"! "Good Night My Son" touches the heart of those who have lost a dear one. Your tributes are beautiful. The one to your poet-teacher is lovely.... I read the book through the night of its arrival. I have reread many of the poems but my thoughts keep returning to the "Song of Pinioned Courage." I would place that ahead of all the others for it takes so much courage for a blind man to sing and let others know his faith in immortality. —Grace Votaw, Welfleet, Nebraska

You speak from the heart and have a beautiful spiritual touch in your work. What a lover of nature you are! All your poems have appealed to me whether reflecting the beauty of nature or some of the deep experiences of life. In all of them you sound a note that sings its way to peoples' hearts. May you ever be favored to express your thoughts in the language of the poet and thus help this tired world of ours with your songs. —Elizabeth Boylan

(The following to Georgia Belle Perry by E. Boylan) "Mrs. Atkinson is in very truth a poet of a high order with vision and breadth of view on various subjects. I love her nature poems. She makes you feel the scene 'From a Brimming heart,' and makes you wnat to hear 'the silent singing of the stars.'"

Dec. 16, 1957
Although the day is gloomy and sad wind complains at the door and around the eves I have had a very happy time, the last two hours, reading again your delightful poems.... Their composition, rhyme and meter would delight any editor I am sure. But better than that, they have a spiritual quality and beauty which goes beyond and above technical excellence. They are food for the soul and balm for the heart: You open a window and point; vistas of beauty stretch before us; you beckon and spring, summer, autumn parade before us enchantingly arrayed; youth is an eternal song which never deteriorates. You put that bogy, Old Age, neatly into the limbo of things inconsequential and of no importance. Thank you very much.

I like all your poems you sent—it is hard for me to pick the ones which please me most. "With Never a Backward Glance" and "The Way Illumined" are superb. I read the article which inspired you to write it ("The Way Illumined") in either the Millennial Star, which was published in Manchester and Liverpool, England in 1840 or in the Evening and Morning Star, which was published in Independence, Missouri in 1832. My grandfather preserved some copies of both of those publications. I like "I Am Youth," "Always for Me the Spring" and "Autumn Tryst"— which is very cleverly done and although I don't remember ever before a poem with the carry over rhyme scheme, it flows along with the undulating music of a mountain brook. I like it very much.

Your thoughts are beautiful, clear and fine so a word or poem from you will always be most welcome. May you bring the "understanding of Beauty" to your many readers. Truly I would love to be numbered among your friends. —Saul Fullmer, 230 Tenth Street, Idaho Falls, Idaho