Pulled from the Pages: The Essential Kay Smith

Have you ever discovered a book or an author that kind of feels like a secret? Perhaps they’re a relative unknown, located away from common literary circles, a little obscure in choice of theme. When you find this author’s work it’s the best kind of surprise. I always enjoy best those books I don’t expect.

Kay Smith is that kind of surprise author. Though she had a few famous friends (Miller Brittain and P. K. Page anyone?) there isn’t a lot known about her and her life. Even the process of finding a photograph of Kay Smith can be fraught with difficulty as she had no children and wasn’t one for the limelight.

Perhaps this quiet legacy is not surprising given the focus of her writing—her faith, and her profound belief in the purity and wonder of imagination. Kay Smith’s poems are intelligent, sophisticated, and at times surprising in the way she combines all the devices available in her literary toolkit. Who wouldn’t want to discover a nice surprise like that?

Keep reading for an exclusive excerpt from the just-published collection The Essential Kay Smith.


Pegasus and Swan

On sky as polished as a shell,
Two clouds in profile, motionless;
One, a plumy Pegasus;
A swan, the other, beautiful
As no earthly sculpture is,
Gifted with motion like a gull,
As if to fly, as if to sail,
On brink of metamorphosis.

They pause, considering the change
To other symbols, other forms
With which the burning fancy swarms
When given liberty to range,
Yet with that liberty remain
A winged horse without a rider,
A marble swan so fair a glider,
No hand could ever coax or rein.

Meanwhile, fashioned for reflection,
We wait, the summer sea and I,
To faithfully record the sky,
Each pearly tone, each cool inflection,
And shaken with the poet’s rage,
And shaded by the wing of death,
I strive with every darkening breath
To lure these shiners to my page.


That Something May Be Found

That something may be found I make a poem.

I break from the shell of habit, my home,
leaving fear, the old crone, nodding by the cold ashes.

Near the door Eyes compel so large and clear
a walking out that clothed simply in being
I try to deserve the white lashes of the daisy,
the tapering body of grass in the wind,
and stones washed in sunlight.

That the secret may be found I become a hunter
in a poem, seeking the lost child who followed
the moonlight into the wood.

In the wood and in the waste places under
a half-moon we are very wonderful,
curved like a bow over being ourselves and alone,
moving when we move like a half-moon.

That something may be found I make a poem.


PortraitHope you enjoyed this peek inside the pages of The Essential Kay Smith. If you liked it, we hope you’ll pick up a copy. Plus, don’t forget to check out the other great titles in the Essential Poets series.Steph

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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.