A Poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery for Her Birthday

November 30, 1874Lucy Maud Montgomery born, English-Canadian author; best known for her  Anne of Green Gables series. She also used the pen name L.M. Montgomery. After her mother died, her father left her in the custody of her maternal grandparents, who raised her in the small community of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. She was a lonely child, who created imaginary friends and make-believe places, kept a journal, and wrote short stories and poetry. She earned a teacher’s license at Prince of Wales College, then studied literature at Dalhoousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She taught school, but didn’t enjoy it, and spent her free time writing short stories, which were published in magazines and newspapers. In 1897, she accepted a proposal of marriage, but later broke off the engagement because she fell in love with someone else, but he died of influenza. In 1898, she went to live with her widowed grandmother, who died in 1911. From 1901 to 1902, she worked in Halifax as a substitute proofreader for the newspapers Morning Chronicle and The Daily Echo. The press portrayed her as the “ideal young woman author” – a shy school teacher, wanting to write only part-time, her femininity “unspoiled.” The portrait was not much like the real Montgomery, who wrote a friend, “I am frankly in literature to make a living out of it.” Shortly after her grandmother’s death, Mongomery, at the age of 37, married Ewen MacDonald, a Presbyterian minister, with whom she had little in common. The marriage was difficult from the start – the ‘manse’ provided by the church lacked a toilet and bathroom, and her husband became increasingly depressed. Convinced that he was not of ‘the Elect’ chosen by God to go to heaven, he would sit for hours staring into space. He did nothing to help raise their children, and Montgomery suffered from bouts of depression herself. Writing was her solace. She died in 1942 of coronary thrombosis, at the age of 67. Her husband outlived her by about a year. 

Though remembered now mostly for Anne of Green Gables, she was a prolific writer, producing over 50 novels, dozens of short stories, and many poems. In her writing, even though her characters often faced adversity, there were “kindred spirits” to help them, and things came right in the end. For the many hours of pleasure her books and stories brought to generations of readers, it seems a shame that Lucy Montgomery’s life should have been so filled with isolation, sadness, and struggle.

To read her poem “The Garden in Winter” click:

The Garden in Winter

by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Frosty-white and cold it lies
Underneath the fretful skies;
Snowflakes flutter where the red
Banners of the poppies spread,
And the drifts are wide and deep
Where the lilies fell asleep.

But the sunsets o’er it throw
Flame-like splendor, lucent glow,
And the moonshine makes it gleam
Like a wonderland of dream,
And the sharp winds all the day
Pipe and whistle shrilly gay.

Safe beneath the snowdrifts lie
Rainbow buds of by-and-by;
In the long, sweet days of spring
Music of bluebells shall ring,
And its faintly golden cup
Many a primrose will hold up.

Though the winds are keen and chill
Roses’ hearts are beating still,
And the garden tranquilly
Dreams of happy hours to be­
In the summer days of blue
All its dreamings will come true.

“The Garden in Winter” from The Poems of Lucy Maud Montgomery, Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1987 edition

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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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