Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mrs. Lew Wallace

Civil War general Lew Wallace is famous as an author in Indiana. But did you know his wife was also an accomplished writer? Susan Elston was born in Crawfordsville in 1830 to Major Isaac C. and Maria Elston and married Lew in 1852. In addition to writing her own books, she was a mentor to other authors, such as Mary Hannah Krout and Elizabeth Boynton Harbert. Her biography in Seven Authors of Crawfordsville, Indiana says, "Perhaps her place in the literary field was that of consultant, and it may be that Lew Wallace's success as an author was due in large measure to her criticism and his respect for it." Mrs. Wallace died in Crawfordsville in 1907.

Her famous poem, "The Patter of Little Feet," first appeared in the Cincinnati Daily Gazette in 1858:
"Up with the sun at morning,
Away to the garden he hies,
To see if the sleepy blossoms
Have begun to open their eyes.
Running a race with the wind,
His step as light and fleet,
Under my window I hear
The patter of little fleet.

Anon to the brook he wanders,
In swift and noiseless flight;
Splashing the sparkling waters,
Like a fairy water sprite.
No sand under fabled river
Has gleams like his golden hair;
No pearly seashell is fairer
Than his slender ankles bare;
Nor the rosiest stem of coral
That blushes in Ocean's bed,
Is sweet as the flush that follows
Our darling's airy tread." ...

The rest of this poem can be found in Poets and Poetry of Indiana.

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