Myrtle Marie Marmaduke (pictured, far right) was born Myrtle Marie Cook on June 20th, 1898, in Cathage, Missouri. When she was two years old her parents moved from Missouri to Cripple Creek, Colorado. After graduating from Cripple Creek High School, her whole family chose to move into Denver, where her mother ran a rooming house. At the age of twenty-three she married Samuel Earl Marmaduke with whom she had two children. Shortly after getting married, she settled down in Southwest Denver, just half a block from the Chamberlin Observatory.
It is said that Myrtle wrote poetry from a very young age. She was of Irish heritage, and she wrote a few amusing poems about being Irish. However, she was known for primarily styling her poetry in the classical style and treatment of Edna St. Vincent Mallay, who was in fact one of her favorite poets of all time.
It is unknown to her family exactly when Myrtle joined the Poetry Society of Colorado, but during the time she became a member, one needed to have three sponsors to be able to join. Her poetry was published in the Poetry Society of Colorado’s Golden Harvest Anthology dated 1921 – 1971.
She won several times in the National Federation of Poetry, once with her picture printed in the spotlight section of the Denver Post. In those days, newspapers often printed club and poetry interests.
She also belonged to the National League of American Pen Women and the Quill Club. She had one book published by Peregrine Smith Books, titled After Many Million Heartbeats, which was the name of one of her poems in the book.
Lastly, she was published in the Daisie E. Robinson Sweepstakes Award and the Ann Woodbury Hafen Award. Her literary career ended when she passed away in 1992, at the age of ninety-two.
My hands have never touched a violin;
My fingers do not ache for string and bow;
Yet when its mighty tide comes surging in,
My heart has river beds to catch and flow,
Softly it moves as moonbeams on the night
And summer clouds that shed their droops of rain;
The glistening waves now whisper young delight;
Now moan, to mark the heart’s first stretch of pain.
The passions roar —the frenzied breakers leap —
The wind — the flash — the scream — the anguished roll!
The storm that thunders on the mighty deep
Is one with that which surges in the soul,
The current swells within my pounding breast
Flooding, like memory, my thirsting veins;
It leaves that flotsam of vast unrest;
Old heartbreak quivers in its dying strains,
Now mist lies purple on the lonely sea
And mist lies gray along the barren shore;
The waves, like tired tears, rise tenderly —
My rivers flow within their banks once more.
-Myrtle M. Marmaduke-
[Printed in the Golden Harvest 1921-1971 Anthology of the Poetry Society of Colorado and posted here with the family's permission.]
I have been wound and set to the tick of earth,
feeling its heartbeat beautiful in my veins.
I have followed its lure from the stroke of
one — my birth — lure of the sun,
the winds and the sparkling
all delights, all pains.
I have known grief and the cloister of long,
and paced bleak dawns in lonely awakening.
I have clutched new loves when old loves
my heart forget its lovely tryst with spring
Let me never we wound and set to the loves ago,
caught in the drowsy mist of memory
when the lure would lose its red, the tick turn
when the winds and rains once lashing, fierce
would lie soft for me.
There are dawns and darks ahead that have not
been spent —
I would not be spared earth’s impulsive
slash and scars.
If its ways are rash, then its rashness wonderment.
When my heart can no longer strum its
let me be rewound and set to the tick of
-Myrtle Marie Marmaduke-
[After Many Million Heartbeats printed for Peregrine Smith Books and posted here with her family's permission.]