Olive and the Poets

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    Throughout Myrtle Davis' mission journal you can find passages of poetry that she has reprinted, sometimes just on their own and sometimes because they relate to some particular emotion she is feeling in a given moment. Many of the poems have a religious theme, but quite often the subject matter is the beauty of nature and flowers in particular.

    When Myrtle's daughter Olive began journaling - at her mother's prompting - she, too, began copying down not just poetry but also passages and quotations that she enjoyed. As she grew up, and especially once she became a relif worker with the American Friends Service Committee, Olive's poetry and prose collection began to grow to a different level. As was customary for Quakers, she would sometimes keep a separate "prayer journal" in which she would write her daily prayers and spiritual musings, sort of an on-going conversation with herself about her spirituality. For the Quakers in relief work, copying over poetry and compiling prayer books was almost like a homework assignment, but one meant to be a meditative experience. It was time Olive could take for herself, time in which she wasn't working or thinking about work but rather thinking about her spirituality and sense of self.

    As part of this, Olive began scrapbooking. Her scrapbooks were a combination of a prayer journal, clippings and images of religious iconography, and clippings of religiously-themed articles and prose. There are also some programs, brochures, and articles about/profiles of famous thinkers - mostly writers - that she admired. The subjects of these articles ranged from John Greenleaf Whittier (a Quaker poet) to Edgar Allan Poe (a gothic writer and poet), from George Bernard Shaw (a playwright) to Albert Schweitzer (a theologian).

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