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Picture of AuthorMargaret E. Bruner

Hoosier Connection: Margaret E. Bruner was born in West Fork, Indiana. She became a poet and columnist for the News Republican in New Castle, IN, where she wrote a weekly column titled "In Thoughtful Mood."

Works Discussed: The Hill Road, The Unwritten Law, and Eternal Quest

Margaret E. Baggerly was born on September 25, 1886, in West Fork, Indiana. She was educated in the public schools there and attended business college in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1913, she moved came to New Castle in East Central Indiana where she married a local businessman, Vate Bruner. For several years, she was employed as a secretary and stenographer. She also wrote a weekly column for the New Castle News Republican titled "In Thoughtful Mood."

She was the first poet laureate of the Indiana Federation of Poetry Clubs and poet laureate of the Indiana Poetry Society for twelve years. Bruner was quite prolific during her life: she completed 12 collections of poetry, which have been included in nearly 100 anthologies such as Poems That Touch the Heart, compiled by A.L. Alexander, and Poems That Live Forever, compiled by Hazel Felleman. She also contributed to textbooks and published articles in the Indianapolis Sunday Star, Muncie Evening Press, Living Tissue, Cats Magazine, and other periodicals. She received over forty cash prizes including first prize for the best lyric poetry of the year in American Poetry Magazine in 1947. Several of her poems were even set to music by the late Dr. Emmett Pendleton.

Her first volume of poetry, The Hill Road, is a collection of verse that had originally appeared in various periodicals. Her works display a mastery of various verse forms, particularly the sonnet. Bruner frequently writes about nature in her poetry, finding both peace and solace in the Indiana countryside. Growing up, she shared an attitude resembling Ralph Waldo Emerson by finding beauty in the simple things in life, which is made evident in her poem "The Simple Things of Earth Are Loveliest."

The simplest things of earth are loveliest:
A fire on the heart, the lamplight's glow;
The hour when the heart finds peace and rest,
A mother's lullaby crooned soft and low.

The wayside blossom, tiny woodland stream
That sings a happy, lilting roundelay;
Soft, billowy clouds that drift as in a dream.
The hush of dawn, the sun's last flaming ray...(22)

In her 1968 collection, Eternal Quest, Bruner reveals an introspective and somewhat philosophical nature. In her poem "I Look to the Hills" she speaks as if she possesses a kind of spiritual connection with her Indiana countryside, claiming past images of these hills give her strength and courage.

When Courage wanes
Then I look to the hills,
And something of their strength is given to me
Their fortitude is like deep organ strains,
Whose harmony instills
Desire to keep faith glowing constantly...(91)

Another beautiful example of this connection can be found in her poem "Possessions" from her 1963 collection The Unwritten Law. Here, she describes her memories of the land as a possession and release that will be with her always. These moments in her life were held sacred and considered gifts and blessings that she truly cherished:

The sense which first I knew will never fade,
Now these are mine no matter where I dwell:
A cliff that seemed a kindly sentinel,
Streams sheltered by the willow's cooling shade;
And blossoming boughs that later were arrayed
With luscious fruit, the woodland's mystic spell,
And gardens, fields of grain, and all these tell
My heart to be steadfast and undismayed...(15)

Evidence of Bruner's appreciation for her rural surroundings is also abundant throughout her poetry. She often uses nature references analogously to describe human emotions or religious messages, but she also takes time to explore nature more directly. The poem "In Praise of Indiana," from The Unwritten Law, is one example where she proudly and passionately pays tribute to her Hoosier home:

Our Hoosier state is not so large in size,
And yet of beauty has an ample share;
Her lakes and eerie dunes are more than faire
Broad fields of corn and wheat delight the eyes
Her steadfast hills that tower toward the skies,
Like sentinels, seem wrapped in silent prayer...
Her rivers weave a spell, and often where
The valleys end, tall cliffs stand guardian-wise... (24)

Margaret Bruner's sympathy for both humanity and the natural world shines through her poetry. She beautifully illustrates the significance of the simpler things in life that are often overlooked. Her love for nature transcends a mere appreciation for its physical beauty, however, as she goes deeper to incorporate philosophical, metaphorical, and emotional connections between nature and humanity.



Bruner, Margaret E. Eternal Quest. Boston, Massachusetts: The Christopher Publishing House, 1968.

---. The Hill Road. Dallas, Texas: The Kaleidograph Press, 1932.

---. The Unwritten Law. Boston, Massachusetts: The Christopher Publishing House, 1963.

"Margaret E. (Baggerly) Bruner". Contemporary Authors. 2002.

Shumaker, Arthur W. A History of Indiana Literature. Indiana Historical Society, 1962: 520-523.