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Picture of AuthorEvaleen Stein

Hoosier Connection: Evaleen Stein was born in Lafayette, Indiana, and lived here her whole life, except for a few trips out of town. Stein is considered the first true nature poet in Indiana literature.

Works Discussed: One Way to the Woods, Among the Trees Again

Evaleen Stein was born on October 12, 1863, in Lafayette, Indiana, to John and Virginia Stein. Her father was a successful lawyer and politician. He was a member of the Indiana Senate in 1869 and he introduced the bill of establishment of the Indiana Agricultural College (later to become Purdue University). All members of the Stein family were writers. Evaleen’s brother, Orth Stein, was one of the first well-known columnists in the local newspaper. Evaleen attended the Art Institute of Chicago where she learned decorative design and was recognized for her illuminated manuscripts. However, her interests soon turned primarily toward literature and in 1897 she published her first collection of poetry, One Way to the Woods. Five years after this, Stein published Among the Trees Again, her second book of poetry inspired by the Indiana countryside. Stein would create a few more works of poetry before changing interests once again, however this time to short stories. Known more for her poetry however, I focus primarily on this as it directly relates to Indiana.

One Way to the Woods is about all the aspects of Indiana landscape including the large sycamore trees, rows of cornfields, marshes, and beautiful forests of Indiana. She describes nature in great detail. Written in the late nineteenth century, Stein’s book is still able to exhibit the natural feel of Indiana and describe the feeling of naturalistic open land as she describes the seedlings flying on the breeze:

And up the hillside, green and steep,
The lacing dogwood boughs
In fleeting glimpses show the sheep
Like blossoms as they browse

The redbud trees are wrapped in rose,
The hawthorn throbs and pales,
And launched by every breeze that blows
The elm seeds spread their sails. (29)

Some common themes I noticed while reading through her poetry include her love for Indiana birds, seasons, flowers, and landscapes. She sights many different kinds of Indiana birds in her poems, especially in One Way to the Woods, including the cardinal, bittern, robin, crane, owl, wild canary, and pigeon.

“On pearly breast, and wings outspread,
A white crane journeys overhead…” (18)

Such precise sounds and descriptions allow her readers to go inside the poem and really visualize what she is describing.

Among the Trees Again looks at another main theme of Stein’s writing, we see her portraying Indiana not necessarily as descriptions but through the seasons. In "Between Seasons" she begins by commenting:

The cherry trees are haunted
By hordes of robber jays,
And warmer winds are fanning
The poppies to a blaze

And loosed in fitful flurries,
The sweet syringes fall,
To lie like little snow-drifts
Against the garden wall. (40) (Full Text)

Stein then comments specifically on months and what each month has to offer, or what it is occurs during each month. She writes a few poems on the January frost and comments on how January is both a month full of beauty but a time of great frost with the hibernating buds beneath the snow. The following poem, "January" is taken from One Way to the Woods:

To and fro,
To and fro,
Athwart the tingling icy air,
The linden branches blow, and so,
With warp of wind and woof of snow
The weaver Winter’s shuttles go;
Such garment rare
The earth shall wear,
No softest ermine, neither vair,
Nor royal robbing anywhere,
Nor any cunning loans may show
A fabric half so fair. (11)

Stein continues on with her poems, in Among the Trees Again, referencing the changing seasons as they apply to each specific month. "In Late September" she is giving a colorful description, almost painting for the reader, how she is seeing fall unfold.

Among the hardy marigolds
The spicy gillyflower unfolds,
And in the elm a catbird scolds
With saucy, outspread wings;
To mellow sweets the pippen speed,
The sunflower disks are brown with seed,
And round about them finches feed
In clinging, yellow rings. (75) (Full Text)

In her next poem, Stein portrays Indiana’s most known crop during the fall season of "Early November," showing how winter is close, but the colors are still glorious.

…I can see the color showing
Where the winter-wheat is growing,
With the corn encamped about it like a plumed
protecting band. (79) (Full Text)

The best way to sum up Stein’s appreciation and love for Indiana is in her poem “The Home Field.” Here, she expresses her love for the land and recognizes all the inspiration it has given her for her work.

The fields are full of sunlight,
And leafy golden-green,
And misty purple shadows
Are flitting in between;
The flaky elder flowers
Are drenched with honey-dew,
And all the distant woodlands
Stand veiled in tender blue.

Half seen between green thickets
Of grape-vine and wild rose,
In twinkling swirls of silver
The lazy river flows;
While down the grassy roadside
The milkweed balls are bright,
And waving prince’s-feather
Is tipped with snowy white.

Ah, ever-dearest home-land,
‘Tis here my spirit sings!
And as my heart caresses
The sweet, familiar things,
Such rare midsummer magic
Distills through all the air,
I think these fields are fairer
Than any anywhere! (52)



Banta, R.E. "Evaleen Stein." In J.K. Lilly, Jr. (Ed.), Indiana Authors and Their Books (pp. 301-303). Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1949.

Stein, Evaleen. Among the Trees Again. Indianapolis, IN: The Bown-Merrill Company, 1902.

---. One Way to the Woods. Boston: Copeland and Day,1897.


Creek Walk on Wildcat Creek 4 April 2001
This page was last updated on June 19, 2001
Date Viewed: 12/8/05