Blanche Trask: Poet-Explorer-Naturalist

Blanche Trask, Poet-Explorer-Naturalist, did most of her California wild nature exploration and writing on the Channel Islands of Southern California. She was a resident of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island in Los Angeles County, California from 1895 to 1915 (20 Years). Her winter home was located next to the Tuna Club in Avalon, but she also had a summer home at the Isthmus where the Institute of Environmental Studies of USC is currently located. She corresponded with professors and scientists at UC Berkeley, Harvard University, the Smithsonian, and at the California Academy of Sciences in San Franciso. She also corresponded with Charles Lummis, editor of the Land of Sunshine, a literary magazine in which the following poem first appeared.

Blanche Trask published MASKING in LAND OF SUNSHINE in 1896 after living on Catalina Island for about one year. The passage by Longfellow was printed as a preface to her poem as it appeared in the magazine. Whether the Longfellow passage was placed there by Charles Lummis or was put their by her own design is unclear. This poem is the first of 10 poems published by Blanche Trask spanning 10 years between 1896 and 1905. The above narrative and the poem was written and compiled by Robert Roy van de Hoek, April 2000, for educational purposes in recognition of Earth Day and the birthday of John Muir. The brief biography of Blanche Trask has since been revised in July 2000.


LAND OF SUNSHINE Volume 5, Number 1, Page 28. June 1896
Avalon, Santa Catalina Island11

MASKING
BY BLANCHE TRASK

Take each fair mask for what it gives itself,
Nor strive to look beneath it. -- Longfellow.

The hills, I think, are cold!
They wrap themselves in mist,
And peep between a fold,
As to the rain they list.

 Like creatures wan and strange,
The hills go trooping by,
Masking, for a change --
My green hills in the sky.

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