On Sunday afternoon, Cora Dunn would sit with her husband Reg and watch the cars come flying up Green Hill for a chance to glimpse the view they saw themselves every day.
It was a wonderful place to live and, at 91, she smiles when she recalls the home she spent her adult life in. A picture of the old farm house hangs on the wall of her room in Valley View Villa along with portraits of family.
“I liked looking down on everyone,” she says, laughing.
Joy seems to flood the room she sits in, but life did not start easy for Cora. Her father died when she was six and her mother was left to raise four girls on her own with no home of their own and no money. But with a devoted mother she still thrived and always did well at school.
In a small classroom, she learned about poetry and immediately took to it.
“It gave me a chance to use my brain anyway I wanted to.”
She began to jot down little rhymes on pieces of paper. She was so good that one teacher accused her of plagiarism.
“It could be walking home from school,” she said. “I’d write about a certain tree that was there. Anything I felt like writing about.”
For the rest of her life, she would be found sitting and writing on a scrap of paper or later tapping on a typewriter.
“I wanted to do it. I just took the time,” she says. “The time had to adjust to me.”
It wasn’t until Cora’s daughter, Hazel, was a teenager that she started to realize her mother had something special in the lines she would sneak away to write. Older now, she appreciates them even more and with the help of a family friend, Fred Jeffery, is trying to get a collection of some of the more than 200 poems printed.
Jeffrey said he was amazed when he read the poems. He is picking 50 out and plans to have them reviewed by the family and then printed. His goal is to have it all done by the end of the summer.
“This is life lived every day by a very caring compassionate person,” he said. “Her thoughts were deep. Her love of nature, love of life, love of family all that shone through…. She just encapsulated it all and it should be something the public should see.”
So much of her life can be learned from the poems.
Both Cora and her husband had served in the war and when he returned they went into dairy farming.
His real name was Lynton Cyrus Dunn, but to her, he was always Reg. He was 6’2” and when he would stretch his arm out, she could stand underneath. She always felt safe with him and writes glowingly of him.
“He was the best husband that anyone ever had.”
Her one sorrow in their marriage was a baby she lost before she had the chance to hold it – “my greatest disappointment.” They would never be able to have another. But through that sorrow, came her two greatest joys in life. A boy and a girl adopted as their own.
“I thoroughly enjoyed writing about them,” she says.
Some of the poems are spiritual in nature. Most have to do with the day-to-day. A few are sad.
“Sometimes, I’m not really joyful, but there’s something you have to write about,” Cora said.
The painful loss of her husband, her son and her son-in-law is all captured in prose. She leaves it there.
For decades the poems were only read by her own eyes. They were written just because they needed to be written.
“I pretty well kept them for myself and if I went to a meeting and one suited, I’d take it.”
The few she shared, earned her the title of “The Green Hill Poet.”
“I’ve been called that more than once.”
She admits she once tried to get some poems published, but when the editor talked about making changes, she, like the great poet Emily Dickinson before her, quickly refused.
Someday she’d like to see them in print on pages of a book, but for now, she just wants them close beside her bound in the binders within her sight.
Her life is in those lines.
The golden years have turned to brass
As I stroll through life alone.
The fun filled days of youth long past,
On rapid wings have flown.
I’ve known times of endless bliss
On the joyous path of life.
These are the thoughts I do recall
When my memories are rife.
The precious golden moments
Which fill my heart with cheer,
Treasure memories of the past
Appear…so very clear.
The list is getting shorter
Of the good friends I hold dear,
Still they are so very precious,
Whenever they appear.
My days on Earth recorded,
Within the ‘Golden Book’.
Will help me to remember,
The journey that I took.
The Green Hill Poet
(Written in July 2001. I await the birth of Great Grandchild #2 as I remember the past and give some thought to the future.)