CELEBRATING THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
To appreciate the Dorothy Prizes' emphasis on the spirit of life, we invite you to view these selected poems. You can pick specific poems from the list at left or traverse them in order using the next button at the foot of this page.
To better understand Dorothy's poems, it may be helpful to know that Dorothy was on closer terms with illness and death than most of us would choose to be. She spent her formative years as a missionary child in India, and death was an everyday truth in the India of that time. There her beloved younger brother died and as a teenager she was the sole caregiver for her father during the last days of his final, difficult illness. Soon after her arrival in India, Dorothy was afflicted with rheumatic fever that left her heart weakened, and afterward her heart’s murmuring reminded her of the fragility of her embodiment. Nevertheless her body held up well, and it was not until she was thirty-five that her heart suddenly began to fail. A newly developed surgical technique could potentially save her life, but the operation was risky: of the first twelve patients, six had died during surgery. Dorothy was the thirteenth patient, and the outcome was excellent. She lived well for nineteen years more, dying at the age of fifty-four after her third open-heart surgery, her body at last worn out.
Throughout these years of illness Dorothy retained a lightness of temperament. Mostly she was happy and quick to laugh. She always gently accepted people as they were. She was a sincere and stalwart friend, supporting all around her. When her serious side showed, she seemed to be acting upon a vision of what humanity could become and striving to bring it about. She loved poetry and was delighted when a poem achieved her intent, but the poems were just one means of communication. She mostly relied upon poems when a subject was challenging or profoundly important, perhaps because her gift with words helped her to articulate her deepest feelings and convey them to others. Night walk is one of her poems conveying the preciousness of life.
Late in Dorothy’s life, the selection of her published and unpublished verse offered here was published by Marvin, with Barr’s assistance, privately through Seagardens Press, Berkeley, California. We hope that you may find these poems inspirational. The title derives from the first poem, Look Again.
You can browse the poems via the list at left or traverse them all in order using the next button below.