Sarah Orne Jewett

American novelist, short story writer and poet

Sarah Orne Jewett (September 3, 1849June 24, 1909) was an American author and poet whose works were primarily set in her native New England.

I'd rather be my honest self
Than any made-up daisy.
The warm sun kissed the earth
To consecrate thy birth

Quotes

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Thy radiant face
Sprang into sight,
A blossoming delight.
 
Your patience may have long to wait,
Whether in little things or great,
But all good luck, you soon will learn,
Must come to those who nobly earn.
Who hunts the hay-field over
Will find the four-leaved clover.
  • "Dear robin," said this sad young flower,
    "Perhaps you'd not mind trying
    To find a nice white frill for me,
    Some day when you are flying?"

    "You silly thing!" the robin said;
    "I think you must be crazy!
    I'd rather be my honest self
    Than any made-up daisy.

    "You're nicer in your own bright gown,
    The little children love you;
    Be the best buttercup you can,
    And think no flower above you.

    "Though swallows leave me out of sight,
    We'd better keep our places;
    Perhaps the world would all go wrong
    With one too many daisies.

    "Look bravely up into the sky,
    And be content with knowing
    That God wished for a buttercup
    Just here, where you are growing.
    "

    • "Discontent", in St. Nicholas Magazine, Vol. 3 (February 1876), p. 247
  • The warm sun kissed the earth
    To consecrate thy birth,
    And from his close embrace
    Thy radiant face
    Sprang into sight,
    A blossoming delight.
    • "The Soul of the Sunflower" in Scribner's Magazine, Vol. XXII (October 1881), p. 942
  • A harbor, even if it is a little harbor, is a good thing, since adventurers come into it as well as go out, and the life in it grows strong, because it takes something from the world, and has something to give in return.
  • Your patience may have long to wait,
    Whether in little things or great,
    But all good luck, you soon will learn,
    Must come to those who nobly earn.
    Who hunts the hay-field over
    Will find the four-leaved clover.
    • "Perseverance" in St. Nicholas Magazine, Vol. X. (September 1883), p. 840
  • The thing that teases the mind over and over for years, and at last gets itself put down rightly on paper — whether little or great, it belongs to Literature.
    • Letter to Willa Cather, quoted in the preface to The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories (1925)
  • It does seem so pleasant to talk with an old acquaintance who knows what you know. I see so many new folks nowadays who seem to have neither past nor future. Conversation has got to have some root in the past, or else you have got to explain every remark you make, and it wears a person out.
    • As quoted in Reader's Digest Vol. 130 (1987)

The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896)

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In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness.
Full text online
  • Captain Littlepage had overset his mind with too much reading.
    • Ch. 5
  • The old poets little knew what comfort they could be to a man.
    • Ch. 5
  • "Step in some afternoon," he said, as affectionately as if I were a fellow-shipmaster wrecked on the lee shore of age like himself.
    • Ch. 7
  • We were standing where there was a fine view of the harbor and its long stretches of shore all covered by the great army of the pointed firs, darkly cloaked and standing as if they waited to embark. As we looked far seaward among the outer islands, the trees seemed to march seaward still, going steadily over the heights and down to the water's edge.
    • Ch. 7
  • Tact is after all a kind of mind-reading.
    • Ch. 10
  • Yes'm, old friends is always best, 'less you can catch a new one that's fit to make an old one out of.
    • Ch. 12
  • In the life of each of us, I said to myself, there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness.
    • Ch. 15
  • 'Tain't worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.
    • Ch. 16
  • The road was new to me, as roads always are, going back.
    • Ch. 19
  • So we die before our own eyes; so we see some chapters of our lives come to their natural end.
    • Ch. 19


Misattributed

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  • When I was as you are now, towering in the confidence of twenty-one, little did I suspect that I should be at forty-nine, what I now am.

Quotes about Sarah Orne Jewett

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  • The nineteenth-century poet and novelist Sarah Orne Jewett lived for thirty years with Annie Fields in what was, in that century, called a Boston Marriage. It was considered a respectable arrangement, and friends and community acknowledged the life-companion relationship as a genuine article of devotion. When Annie Fields, however, intended to publish the letters between her and Jewett in the 1920s and after the latter's death, her close friend Mark De Wolfe Howe counseled against inclusion of any mention of their love for each other. This meant deleting four-fifths of the correspondence. Howe's objections stemmed from his fear of accusations of "perversity" against his friend in the sexually charged world of Freudian analysis. Faderman concludes that while the love between Jewett and Fields "was common and appropriate behavior in the century in which the two women had spent most of their lives (and Howe himself saw it as common and appropriate at the time)... it suddenly became "abnormal" in a twentieth century context, although nothing about the nature of the relationship had changed."
    • Bettina Aptheker Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness, and the Meaning of Daily Experience (1989)
  • Feminist literary critics have shown how in the 19th century women writers began to acknowledge women as their muses and their role models...Margaret Fuller and Sarah Orne Jewett acknowledged their indebtedness to Madame de Staël, the author of Corinne...The list could be indefinitely extended to show the almost desperate search of writing women for authoritative female predecessors.
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