S2 E17: Annunciation by Helen Hoyt

Welcome to poetry in the afternoon.

Sarah and I invite you to join us as we explore the poetry of Helen Hoyt through her poem Annunciation.

Poet Helen Hoyt (1887-1972), born in Norwalk, Connecticut, was the daughter of former Pennsylvania governor Henry Hoyt.  Educated at Barnard College, she lived in Chicago and worked as an associate editor for Poetry.  In 1916, she edited an issue of Others: A Magazine of the New Verse, an American literary magazine founded by Alfred Kreymborg in July 1915.  As editor of the 1916 issue, Hoyt addressed her interest in poetry as a space for women’s voices: “At present most of what we know, or think we know, of women has been found out by men. We have yet to hear what woman will tell of herself, and where can she tell more intimately than in poetry?

Helen Hoyt poetry spoke of gender, the body, and nature. She married William Whittingham Lyman Jr, a writer and academic, primarily in the field of Celtic studies, and moved to St. Helena, California, where she spent her later years. She was the aunt of poet Elinor (Hoyt) Wylie who wrote “Velvet Shoes”.

By Helen Hoyt

From “Poems of Life and Death”

The great Life,
Came unto me:
He of old ages,
The eternal,
The owner of all,
Came, and his word was for me,
Calling my name:
And the radiance of his presence shone about me.

With leaping heart I heard his voice
And the entering of his steps over my threshold:
Heard, and was not troubled;
Because it was known to me a long time
What answer I should make to Life.

With outstretched, quiet hands,
With unreluctant face,
I stood before him,
And let my eyes look into the eyes of Life:
And I gave, and delivered up to Life,
Yielding me
As one yields and delivers to another
A dumb vessel.

Mighty and splendid is the presence of Life.
By a far road he comes
And travels a great way before
And sways the world.
I trembled to be near his glory,
But with unbowing head I stood before him,
With unbowing head and proud heart;
Knowing my service that I should perform to the honoring of Life.
And in his dignity I was exalted.

Now for a term I am not my own,
But Life is my master:
And I dwell under his commandment,
Beneath the fostering of his wings.
Wrapped in the mantle of Life,
Patient, by ways apart, I go;
Bearing in my flesh his sign
That I am one of his chosen:
The instrument of his purpose; the way of his will.

Slowly day follows day,
Laying its hands upon me with invisible touch,
Molding my flesh;
And I tarry waiting upon Life
Until the use he purposes for me shall be accomplished,
And his intent be fulfilled:
Until the wonder is wrought upon me that now possesses my days.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

5 thoughts on “S2 E17: Annunciation by Helen Hoyt

    1. Sarah and I were fascinated with the use of male-gendered pronoun, especially given Helen Hoyt’s thoughts on how poetry was an excellent way for women to express their thoughts and creativity. By the way, her niece, Elinor Morton Hoyt Wylie, was also a poet – something that I just discovered when I was exploring this poem. You may recall Elinor Wylie’s poem “Velvet Shoes” https://ladybudd.com/2022/01/09/sarahs-gift/. I continue to learn….

      A couple of years ago, I attended concert where the choir recited Psalm 23 using “she” instead of “he.” It was very effective. I know you would have appreciated the recitation.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. If I may demur a bit 🙂 , it seems appropriate for her Life to be a he. There is the passion, yielding, possessing, being chosen, etc. which seems to speak to an opposite gender. Just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

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