Poetry from
Separate Lives: The Story of Mary Rippon
--

Will Housel's Class Day poem written when he graduated from the University of Colorado on May 30, 1889 --

"But seems there is a legend, or an old philosophy,
That a spirit sometimes lingers in a blossom or a tree.

If it is not so, how is it that the human heart can see
Something there that wakes an answer like a thrill of sympathy?

Weeping willow, modest violet and the pansy think-of-me,
Laurel signalizes glory, and the broom humility;
But the ivy is for friendship, and it seemeth best of all,
`Tis the rose of love with petals that will never fade or fall.

And as friendship, saith the poet, is but "love without his wings,"
Ivy is its chosen symbol for it closest, longest clings -

Clings when others have departed; clings about the ruined heap;
When forgotten human friends are wrapped in their eternal sleep.

So let others plant their elm trees to betray their dignity,
Or a sturdy oak to blazon unsuspected bravery;

But the Senior class is going to plant an ivy vine
In the empty north east corner, where the morning sun may shine.

There, where the college building breaks the western zephyr's will,
That sometimes blows the boulders towards the ruins of the mill.

Long may the college flourish, long flourish the ivy too;
For the one will robe the other in a beauty yearly new.

And as coming generations through the institution pass,
May the greenness of the ivy contrast with the Senior Class.
And may bonds of endless friendship symboled by the ivy vine,
Grow between the Alma Mater and the class of `89."

Source: University Portfolio, Volume VII #3, May, 1889.

* * * *

Lines 1112-1117 of Faust, Taught by Mary Rippon and particularly relevant to her "separate lives" --

"Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast,
And either would be severed from its brother;
The one holds fast with joyous earthly lust
Onto the world of man with organs clinging;
The other soars impassioned from the dust,
To realms of lofty forebears winging."

Source: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1976).

* * * *

Mary Rippon's version of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem "Winds of Fate" written in Mary's diary and symbolic of the dissolution of her marriage --

"One ship sails east and another west,
With the very same winds that blow;
`tis the set of the sails and not the gales,
That tell us the way to go."

"Like the winds of the sea
Are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life.
`tis the set of the soul that decides the goal,
And not the calm or the strife."

Source: Mary Rippon's diaries, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries.

* * * *

1909 University of Colorado Yearbook dedication to Mary Rippon --

"Who sees thy face sees kindness, lord of all
And that the soul is there, behind thine eyes

Is surety and faith and not surmise;
A soul to help and aid what e'er befall.

A soul to harken to each earnest call,
To save from folly; make us truly wise

As thou art; give to us a humble guise
To stand before thee in thy learning's hall;

As oft before, in our simplicity
We ask thee to vouchsafe a greater light

To teach our falt'ring erring eyes to see,
Our ears to hear thy precepts - learn aright:

We learn from thee the law of gentleness,
And with the others gone, thy name to bless."

Source: Coloradoan, Volume X (Boulder: University of Colorado, 1909).

* * * *

James Whitcomb Riley's poem "He Is Not Dead," which Mary Rippon copied into her diary after the 1912 death of Will Housel --

"I cannot say and I will not say,
He is dead. He is just away.
With a cheery smile and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And we are dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there."

Source: Mary Rippon account book, 1916-1926, Archives, University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries.

* * * *

"Poem for Miss Rippon," by Edna David Romig, read at the dedication of the Mary Rippon Theater on June 13, 1936 --

The quiet of her flowers was on her life,
But it was quiet of no shallow plant
Blooming a colored day to fade at night;
Hers was the bloom of all slow-growing things
Deep in the subsoil rooted, knowing strife,
Knowing the forces that can twist and slant,
The heat that shrivels and the winds that blight.

Hers was the quiet of strong folded wings
After the valorous flight. Hers was the peace
Of the great adventure. Hers the high passage
And safe return... A pioneer she came
Unfearing; unafraid she lived and taught
Youth the adventure of the mind's release.

A gentle woman with a brave message,
A kindly counsel, and a torch, a flame
Illuminating corridors of thought.
She built of substances transcending time:
We build in stone but trust to honor more
The spirit of her building - in the shadow
Of hills she loved, erect these stones, restore
Her old devotion now to Colorado
And give her timeless, to a future time.

Dear friend and teacher, can you hear our words-
You of the silvered hair and fine blue eyes
You in the sprigged challis dress, blue as the eyes
That looked straight into ours in kindliness
And counsel? We would learn your quiet way
With beauty and the old simplicities
Of life - your garden peace when violets
Flowered quietly and columbines
At twilight floated like a phantom troop
Of moths and butterflies, where every flower
Gave perfume, and Madonna lilies bloomed
For your delight. Do you know now, dear friend,
Our gratitude for all you taught of life
And living, and the deep contentment of
Good books; of drama, poetry, and works
Grown golden through the wisdom of the years?

We speak but simply, and our weak words fall
Far short of uttering that inner truth
That you were able to communicate.
Yet we remember all - your flowers, your books,
Your total message, your beloved Yourself.
Young feet have still their journey - may they go
Sometimes in paths made gracious by your going.

May young eyes see at times the golden morning.
The azure dusk you saw. May young minds know
Today, tomorrow, what yesterday you knew:
The living drama we are actors in
And what the part we play not wholly is
Determined by the cue of Destiny."

Mary Ripon

Mary had this portrait taken
on her 1906 trip to Germany.
She was fifty-six years
old at the time.
Author's collection.

Source: Colorado Alumnus, Volume XXVII, December 1936.

* * * *

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