“To Anne, Our Tenth Muse”
Former Crescenta Valley resident Ona Lee Snyyder died peacefully at the age of 85 on Feb. 23, 2019 at an assisted living center in Weldon, near Lake Isabella. Among her books and papers, she left an unpublished poem “To Anne, Our Tenth Muse,” dedicated to the Puritan poetess Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) whose art and life mirrored her own dreams and struggles. In this simple, heartfelt poem, Ona Lee paid tribute to the 17th century poetess and, in the process, found her own voice. No doubt, the artist’s creed fired her own imagination. “May my Sun never set, but burn.”
When England you did bravely leave,
Upon this venture, did you grieve?
You were so young and gently raised,
Your courage must be greatly praised.
You loved your husband so it seems,
We hope he fulfilled all your dreams.
His kindness we cannot perceive,
But pray his love you did receive.
Eight lovely children did you raise,
And on them often did you gaze,
At each child a wondrous treasure,
Sent from God for glorious pleasure?
Did you know some days so dreary?
When its end you were too weary,
To pick up paper, pen and ink,
Each line of verse so hard to think.
When nights were dark and light was gone,
Did verse you write until the dawn,
As candles flickered round the room,
And shadows danced about the gloom?
Then if a child you held so dear,
With sickness caused you such great fear,
You’d set aside your pen and verse,
No longer poet — only nurse.
Were the fall or all the seasons,
Used for verse, or other reasons?
Did you hoe and plant in the seeds,
That took much care to keep from weeds?
If your friends and neighbors talked of war,
Did your pen write so fast and more,
And rage against the senseless death,
When shells did take a man’s last breath?
Men have always made most choices,
Women’s throats sent out no voices.
Are female brains a slight too small,
Or are we cause for Adam’s fall?
Let men cast doubts upon our wit,
We’ve put down thread and sewing kit.
There’s more to do than bake the bread,
And meals to cook so family’s fed.
You gave us more than ever asked,
And in your poetry we’ve basked.
You taught us of our own free wills,
That not just men have artist’s skills.
Thank God you found the precious time,
To render us your words of rhyme,
That eight children, home, and young wife,
Aren’t all there is to woman’s life.