"Chicago." by Miss Marion Couthouy Smith (1853-1931).
Publication: Eagle, Mary Kavanaugh Oldham, ed. The Congress of Women: Held in the Woman's Building, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, U. S. A., 1893. Chicago, Ill: Monarch Book Company, 1894. pp. 616-617.
|MISS MARION COUTHOUY SMITH.|
The poem which I shall have the honor of reading to you today, was published in the "Century" magazine, in March, 1893. It represents Chicago before the Exposition, during the time of preparation and may now be regarded as a prophecy fulfilled.
Among the newspaper comments upon this poem was one which amused me greatly, and pleased me also, because of its unintentional praise. The critic said of me: "She evidently lives in Chicago." I am a native of Philadelphia, and now live just across the river from New York. I never saw Chicago until last week, but I felt her; and I was glad to be so identified with her, even in the mind of a would-be satirical critic, at a time when every sympathetic spirit in the land was touched with the thrill of her heroic endeavor and her magnificent achievement.
Philadelphia did her best in '76; but the great wave of artistic impulse which has since swept over the world was, at that time, only beginning to gather. It remained for Chicago to ride the crest of that wave, and to show to the world–in this magical White City–the very utmost that art can achieve–art, which is man's vision of God's reality. Here it is manifested that Imagination, noblest of human faculties, has survived the intense realism of our century. For there is nothing sordid about this work; that is the joy of it. It is "all for glory and for beauty."
So last year I saw Chicago as in a vision; and now that I have beheld the result of her labor and her munificence, I rejoice that my little song can be added to the great chorus of praise.
The poem is simply entitled, "Chicago."
The blue lake ripples to her feet,
She seized, with movement swift as light,
Miss Marion Couthouy Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pa., October 22, 1853. Her parents were Henry Pratt, of Philadelphia, and Maria Couthouy Williams, of Boston. She was educated at Miss Anable's School in Philadelphia. Pa. Her principal literary works consist of magazine articles and poems contributed to the "Century," "Atlantic Monthly," "The New England Magazine," and other publications; also a booklet entitled "Chorister No. 13." Though retarded in her work by ten years of ill health, yet she has demonstrated her ability, and a novel, published as a serial in "The Living Church," Chicago (which won a one hundred dollar prize) entitled "A Working Woman," accords to her talent of a superior order. In religious faith Miss Smith is an Episcopalian. Her postoffice address is No. 38 Walnut Street, East Orange, N. J.
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