Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835-1894)

Celia Thaxter

By the Roadside
Dropped the warm rain from the brooding sky Softly all the summer afternoon; Up the road I loitered carelessly; Glad to be alive in blissful June.

Though so grey the sky, and though the mist Swept the hills and half their beauty hid; Though the scattering drops the broad leaves kissed;
And no ray betwixt the vapor slid,

Yet the daisies tossed their white and gold In the quiet fields on either side, And the green gloom deepened in the old Walnut trees that flung their branches wide;

And the placid river wound away Westward to the hills through meadows fair, Flower-fringed and starred, while blithe and gay Called the blackbirds through the balmy air.

Although she was often away at the Isles of Shoals, Celia Thaxter owned a house in Newton from 1856 to 1880. It was here, in 1860, that she wrote her first poem, which was published in The Atlantic Monthly the next year. "By the Roadside," (at left) one of the many that followed, was published in The Atlantic in 1869 -- it was inspired, she said, by a view of the Charles near her home. In time, she became one of the best known women poets and writers of the nineteenth century and her home at the corner of California and Nevada streets in Newtonville became a landmark that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, interest in Thaxter's poetry has diminished, but her delicate floral painting on china and illuminated manuscripts are much admired. A butterfly teacup included in the exhibition is inscribed to her friend and publisher James T. Fields.

A teacup with a butterfly handle, inscribed to her friend and publisher James T. Fields, was included in the exhibition. It is pictured in One Woman's Work, The Visual Art of Celia Laighton Thaxter, by Sharon Paiva Stephan (see the bibliography) which captures the richness of her work.