An Appreciation: Helen Harrington

Longtime readers of The Home Forum will remember the poetry of Helen Harrington. Mrs. Harrington contributed more than 500 poems to these pages over the course of 41 years. Her first poem for the Monitor appeared in June 1953. She passed away Jan. 30 in her home state of Iowa.

Helen's verse was loved by readers for its simplicity and music. The wife of a farmer, she wrote about the charms and the challenges of rural life - the great calm of cows, the land she worked and loved, her daughter, Dixie, the rhythms of the natural world. She wrote family poems, love poems, nature poems, and occasionally poems on political themes. She was passionate about civil rights.

Harrington's formal education ended after high school, but her poems were filled with wisdom and insight wrought from experience. Her poetic credo was simple: Poems must have "the human touch."

In 1989, April Austin, then The Home Forum editor, traveled to Harrington's home to interview her. "When I'm writing," she told Ms. Austin, "all things kind of surge in. You feel it in the wind. You feel it on a poignant night in summer when you're lying on your bed and the breeze comes over your face and the moon is rising. It's a mystical feeling, being a part of all things."

Harrington never published a book of poetry, but her popularity with readers of The Home Forum was deep and enduring. She touched many. The Monitor forwarded readers' fan letters to Helen year after year.

Richard Cattani, a former editor of the Monitor, took a particular interest in Harrington. Colleagues recall Mr. Cattani calling her "an undiscovered jewel of American literature."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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