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Darlene Mathis EddyDarlene Mathis Eddy

Hoosier Connection: Darlene Mathis Eddy taught for thirty-two years at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, and is now a professor at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana.

Works Discussed: "Spring Shapes: Twilight," "Filaments, Spindles, Sun Sprays," "Red-Tailed Hawk and the Wabash at Flood," "First Mowings," "Widow's Walk," Leaf Threads, Wind Rhymes

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 Stratton-Porter.

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.

Spring Shapes: Twilight,” a poem from Leaf Threads, Wind Rhymes, 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 together, this 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).

"Filaments, 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 elements, 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).

In "Red-Tailed 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 rabbits caused 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, who lives 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.