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Picture of AuthorArthur Mapes

Hoosier Connection: As a native Hoosier, born and raised in Kendallville, IN., Mapes worked as a mechanist for many years and later as a poet. He wrote Indiana’s official state poem and was recognized in 1977, as the Poet Laureate for Indiana.

Works Discussed: Poems from Indiana Memories include: Indiana (state poem), Winter Cavern (Golden Quill Award 1965), Bixler Lake, Wabash River, Conner Prairie, These Hills, and My Hoosier Hills

Arthur Franklin Mapes, has family with deep Hoosier roots from that stem back for generations. Mapes was the seventh of eight children that grew up in Kendallville, IN. He married Ruth Acker and had ten children. He won eight awards ranging from state to national and international awards and was named Indiana’s Poet Laureate in 1977. Additionally, he was a member of the Indiana Poetry Society, the Poets Corner, and a columnist for Cornucopia Poetry Magazine.

During his lifetime, Mapes published three collections. Poems of the Hoosier Hills and The Hoosier Way contain poetry that also is found in Indiana Memories. Two unpublished poems recently found are, “The Big Tornado” and “I Remember Indiana”. His poetry is about his home town of Kendallville, God, his spiritual journey, the landscape, and nature. Through Mapes’ poetry we find a preference for his home over any place in the world. Immense beauty prompts Mapes to refer to Indiana regularly as paradise.

Indiana Memories is divided into eight sections, each with an introduction written by his children. Sections include Nature, Our Town, Sassafras John, Christmas Memories, My Heritage, Commemorative and Selected Poems, and Up Close and Personal.

The book begins his best known poem, “ Indiana”, the official state poem. [PLEASE PUT LINK TO TEXT]

God crowned her hills with beauty,
Gave her lakes and winding streams
Then He edged them all with woodlands
As the setting for our dreams

Lovely are her moonlit rivers,
Shadowed by the Sycamores,
Where the fragrant winds of Summer
Play along the willowed shores.

I must roam those wooded hillsides,
I must heed the native call,
From a Pagan voice within me
Seems to answer to it all.

I must walk where squirrels scamper
Down a rustic old rail fence,
Where a choir of birds is singing
In the woodland…green and dense.

I must learn more of my homeland
For it’s paradise to me,
There’s no haven quite as peaceful,
There’s no place I’d rather be.

Indiana…is a garden
Where the seeds of peace have grown,
Where each tree, and vine, and flower
Has a beauty all its own.

Lovely are the field and meadows,
That reach out to hills and rise
Where the dreamy Wabash River
Wanders on…through paradise. (6)

Poems like this, with his regular rhythm and rhyme scheme as well as simple down to earth language won him eight awards throughout his lifetime. The Golden Quill Award of 1965 was given to Mapes for Winter Cavern. A poem in which he describes the stately effect of a winter storm on the landscape with icicles on trees.

Illuminated crystal chandeliers
Light up a Hall of Statues in the gloom,
With rare inspiring beauty that appears
As in a mammoth cavern’s Crystal Room. (22)

Mapes describes the natural scenery and refers to specific places and things such as Bixler Lake, the Wabash River, and Conner Prairie. One poem called “ Bixler Lake”, a lake located in Lloyd W. Bender Memorial Forest Nature Preserve in Kendallville. He talks about its beauty and the sounds of children playing and how during different seasons it became a different sort of play land. [PLEASE PUT LINK TO TEXT]

Oh lovely lake, with sylvan beauty blest,
How tranquil you appear when day is done;
As mem’ries come to put my hear to test,
To bring back all the old years one by one.

Beloved Bixler, as in days old,
Your scenic splendor thrills when shadows fall.
As twilight gilds the distant trees with gold,
My heart absorbs the beauty of it all....

I knew your shadowed shores just like a book,
Your tangled, beaten, pathways lined with weeds;
Your old icehouses, and each shady nook
Where willows leaned o’er lilypads and reeds.

Where I once ran my trapline years ag
When I would sometimes get to school quite late.
When we would face the cold, and drifted snow,
To clear away a place where we could skate.

Down through the years you’ve been so dear to me.
Your beauty, rare, I’ve treasured from the start.
We travel far, but do we truly see
Such beauty as lies nearest to the heart? (36)

Another specific reference to an item in the landscape is a poem called “ Wabash River”. This poem is about the splendor of the Wabash River that is the setting for sycamores, beautiful sunsets, and admiration. [PLEASE PUT LINK TO TEXT]

Oh! Wabash River,
Famed in stories and songs;
Here, on your shores,
‘Neath sycamores,
Is where my heart belongs.

Your shadowed waters
Seem peaceful at close of day,
How you inspire
As I admire
The beauty you display.

In sylvan splendor
Mirroring Hoosier skies,
A thrill to behold
As sunset gold
Spreads over paradise.

Oh! Wabash River,
Queen of all Hoosier streams;
I know, that to me,
You always will be
The river of my dreams. (10)

In the poem “Conner Prairie”, Mapes describes the journey in the simple past and briefly describes the imagery and magic he found. He says that the Conner Mansion was a source of joy and described the view from the upstairs window.

The prairie...spread with rows of tasseled corn
Kissed by the sun...and the dew of early morn. (17)

One aspect of the Indiana landscapes Mapes appreciates and glorifies is the hills. Two poems that specifically refer to the hills are “These Hills” and “My Hoosier Hills”. Mapes expresses the spiritual effect and connection that comes from Hoosier hills given to him by God. He talks about wondering through winding paths, river banks, clover fields, and corn to find peace and happiness in these hills.

It is apparent that Arthur Mapes truly loved nature. Through his poetry, Mapes left documentation of his experiences during 20 th century Indiana, a legacy for his family, and a sense of identity for Indiana as paradise.



Mapes, Arthur Indiana Memories. Inter-Collegiate Press. Indiana 1980


Mapes, Arthur Indiana Memories. Inter-Collegiate Press. Indiana 1980


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