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Picture of AuthorRena Manning

Hoosier Connection: Rena Manning was born in Economy, Indiana, and lived her entire life in Indiana. She wrote poetry about what she observed in nature at her family homestead.

Works Discussed: The Night Brings out the Stars

Rena Manning was born in Economy, Indiana on September 22, 1903. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ulysses G. Manning. She lived her entire life in Indiana. A graduate of Earlham College, she was also a correspondent for the Hagerstown Exponent and other newspapers. She later fell ill and was unable to live a normally active life. According to her mother, she “sought and found pleasure and satisfaction in nature”, and more specifically nature in Indiana. Much of her life was spent at the family homestead, "The Maples," in Economy, Indiana, where her mother says, “She experienced the beauty in life and watching things grow.” She died January 9, 1944, at the age of 40.

After Manning’s death, her mother put together a compilation of her poetry entitled The Night Brings out the Stars, which was published through the Hagerstown Exponent in 1947. Many of her poems reference season changes and months of the year. For example, Autumn’s Melancholy, is about autumn’s memories of summer. September also mentions summer, declaring “Now summer’s echoes fade into September”(18). In the sonnet Earliest Signs of Fall, she describes how her Indiana homestead transitions from summer to fall:

These are the signs, the earliest signs of fall:
A cleanliness upon the hills and fields
Swept of their harvests, spent with their acres’ yields,
And over them, the bob-white’s sudden call.
The long prongs of the sun tilt to the south,
And deeper sunsets earlier stain the sky.
Now fireflies vanish; persistent insects cry
From leaves and grass singed by the August drouth.
A flame of zinnia beds and marigolds
Burns through the land, and cautious four o’clocks
And sunflowers mark the hours and swifter days.
In triumph now, the tasseling corn unfolds. . .
Crows ride the twilight sky in anxious flocks. . .
An owl calls evening’s dirge to summer’s ways. (18)

She also has poems about birds and insects, specifically those in Indiana. One such poem about a particular insect is entitled Crickets, in which she describes the crickets’ sounds as “A pulse of castanets/ Chipped from fallen stars”(33). The poems about birds include those about a baby chick, redbirds, and English sparrows. English Sparrows is about the comforting song of the English sparrow in the winter.

Winter mornings when I wake
To a desert snow,
All the other birds have fled;
But one song I know (34)

Indiana rain is also a recurring subject in her collection. Rain, a spiritual poem connecting rain to heaven, describes the movement of rain from the forest, to the meadow and the hills. In Rain Puddles, she imagines her family homestead in Indiana as a place near the ocean:

I do not have the ocean here, and so
I lie and gaze into the sky-
It has its breaker-clouds, and cloud-boats too,
That seek their destinies across the blue-
Vague questions that demand reply.

I fancy pigeons for my sea gulls, when
Like silver stars, they melt to space,
The thunderheads are mountains in a land
Of changing form, of foam and bubble strand,
Whence peers a gravely god-like face. (58)

Manning shows a great appreciation for and dedication to nature in all of her poetry. Because her illness made it nearly impossible for her to travel, she wrote about her everyday experiences with nature in Indiana.



Manning, Rena. The Night Brings out the Stars. Hagerstown, IN: The Hagerstown Exponent 1947.

Thompson, Donald Eugene. “Manning, Rena.” Indiana authors and their books, 1917-1966. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1974. 406.


Manning, Rena. The Night Brings out the Stars. Hagerstown, IN: The Hagerstown Exponent 1947.