This article is part of our Longyear for Kids series, written with a younger audience in mind. See more articles in the series here.
Do you like to write poetry? Mary Baker Eddy did!
“The writing of poetry has always been a joy to me,” Mrs. Eddy once told her friend Irving Tomlinson.1
From the time she was a little girl living on her family’s farm in Bow, New Hampshire, Mary loved reading and writing poems. “When I was a child it was easier for me to write in poetry than in prose,” she said. “When I first went to school I would write my compositions in poetry.”2
Imagine doing your homework in rhyme! For young Mary, though, this was completely natural.
“From childhood I was a verse-maker,” she later explained,3 and she told her friend Irving, “I was always rhyming….”4
During her early years in school, one of her teachers said to Mary’s mother, “Do you know Mary is a born poet?” Mrs. Baker replied that she didn’t — but she did know Mary was always making up rhymes.5
Mary often shared her poems with her mother. She told her friend Julia Bartlett this years later when the two of them visited the old Baker homestead. Mary also pointed out the spot where she used to like to sit and write.
“Mrs. Eddy enjoyed writing her little poems under her favorite apple tree near the house and running with them to her mother….,” Julia recalls.6
Here are two stanzas from a poem that Mary wrote — maybe under that very apple tree! — when she was 12:
I’ll rise in the morn and drink in the dew,
From flowers that bloom in the vale—
So mildly dispensing their charms ever new,
Over hillocks, and flowery dales.
I’ll gaze on the orb in yon eastern sky,
For loftier thoughts ‘twill invite!
His beams can enlighten the spiritual eye,
And inspire my pen as I write.
Many years after she wrote those verses, Mary Baker Eddy would revise them for a collection of her poetry. Can you spot the differences?
Mary would grow up to become the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science. She would write dozens of poems, and she would write plenty of prose, too, including the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, her most important work.
Seven of Mary Baker Eddy’s poems were set to music and are used as hymns in Christian Science churches and Sunday Schools. Here’s the first verse of “Mother’s Evening Prayer,” one of her favorites:
O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.
Mrs. Eddy wrote two poems especially for young readers. First published in The Christian Science Journal in January 1896 as a New Year’s gift to children everywhere, they were later reprinted in her book Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896 and in Poems.
She would also give permission for these two poems to be reprinted in a magazine of her day called The Children’s Star. Both were included in the very first issue, published in November 1907.