Darlene Mathis Eddy was born in Elkhart,
Indiana, where her family has lived for several generations.
All of her childhood and adolescence were spent in Elkhart.
She attended Goshen College, located outside of Elkhart, and
eventually received her doctorate from Rutgers University.
She taught English at Ball State University in Muncie,
Indiana, for thirty-two years. Currently she teaches at the
University of Notre Dame in South
Bend, Indiana. Eddy should certainly be considered an
Indiana environmental writer. While a professor at Ball State
she created several courses in the Honors College about nature
writing and environmental issues. One of these classes was
entitled "Meadow, Mountain, Sand and Sea: The Language
of Nature — Poet/Prose Naturalists." Eddy held
the position of Poet in Residence in the College of Sciences
and Humanities at Ball State University, and during this period
she was also the poetry editor of the BSU Forum. One
interesting connection that she has to another Indiana author
is that her great-grandfather's uncle worked for Gene
Eddy’s poetry has appeared
in a variety of publications and events, some of which include
Blue Unicorn: A Tri-Quarterly of Poetry and Humpback
Barn Festival of Poetry and Art. She is the author of
Leaf Threads, Wind Rhymes, which was published
in 1986. As the title suggests, much of her poetry contains
references to the environment or focuses on nature itself.
According to Eddy, her writing is deeply influenced by Indiana’s
landscape, and while she may not overtly discuss many environmental
issues, her poems contain an implicit message of care and
concern for nature.
Twilight,” a poem from Leaf Threads,
paints a picture of an Indiana farm as darkness sets in.
The first line reminds the reader of the prairies
that used to exist where only farmland is today: "The
prairies curve in glimmering textures now / Into the furrowed
cumulus" (52). The poem displays a sense of the inter-connectedness
of all aspects of nature, a very important concept in caring
for the environment— everything is affected by everything
else. In this poem, farm buildings are set against the sky,
placing the evidence of human life in juxtaposition to a
huge part of nature: "Bank barns ride a swollen sun.
/ Capped silos cock the clouds" (52). In the second
to last stanza, various aspects of our world are again brought
time drawing a heavenly body down to interact with a very
small part of nature on Earth: "Refracted in the kitten’s
eye, / The glow of Sirius Streaks this evening sky" (52).
Spindles, Sun Sprays" describes a beautiful
summer's day on an Indiana lake.
The poem creates a tranquil atmosphere: "All objects
set within this time / Command a calm commemoration" (65).
This idyllic setting is composed largely of natural
including a beetle, "wild goldenrod," a bass fish,
"saw-tooth leaves," "plumed sea grass"
and "grained limestone" (65). Although boats are
present in the scene, they seem to merely serve the purpose
of tying together the water and the sky: "Their threaded
masts and thin lined sails,/ Stitch water to air, and air
to land" (65). The last line sums up the child-like
attitude toward nature, "Woven wonder fills this day" (65).
Hawk and the Wabash at Flood," Eddy gives a brief
glimpse of a scene in a red-tailed hawk’s life, portraying
the dignity and majesty of both the hawk and the old sycamore
tree upon which it has perched. Her great respect for nature
is demonstrated quite clearly in this poem, through the language
that she uses. Both the tree and the hawk are referred to
as "great," and the hawk is called "The monarch
of the summer wind" (53).
Another poem that mentions
wildlife is "First Mowings," which
tells, rather graphically, of the death of a nest full of
by the mowing of a field. The evocative imagery, such as
the blunt description of crushed bones mixed in with alfalfa,
emphasizes the negative effects that humankind has on nature.
Actions that humans take as a matter of course, such as farming,
directly cause damage to our natural environment.
Covering a completely different
subject matter, "Widow's Walk" tells
the story of a woman brought to Indiana against her will,
her life wishing that she could move back to the ocean. Although
this represents a negative attitude toward the state, the
poem also provides some important descriptions of the land.
The house that the woman's husband built for her is portrayed
as breaking the "steady flatness" (24). The speaker
also mentions "Prairie
skies, rolling furrows, / Billowing endlessly in time..."
(24). This would seem to imply an Indiana wide open and largely
unpopulated, unlike most of the state as it exists today.
A reference is made to the crops grown on the family's farm,
again bringing up the topic of agriculture
replacing the indigenous plant life of the state: "High
summer's grain grew thick and full. / Crops of winter wheat
were sown. / Corn hardened toward its harvesting" (24).
Eddy's work is rich in references to Indiana's environment.
As Eddy herself said, the underlying message of her poetry contains
deep concern and love for our environment. This care, combined with
her skill in writing and her strong personal connection to Indiana,
makes her an important Hoosier nature writer.
Mathis-Eddy, Darlene. Leaf Threads,
Wind Rhymes. Daleville, IN: Barnwood Press Cooperative, 1985.