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 Lew Sarett - Laona's Resident Poet
Lew Sarett made his home in Laona and Forest county from 1928 to 1932.  He lived on East Mill Street in what is now known as the N. MacRae house.  Before he came to Laona he had published three volumes of poetry.  They were: Many, Many, Moons from 1920 – a book of wilderness poems which endeavor to capture the influence of the Indians;  The Box of Gold from 1922 – a collection of poems that express the wood sounds and scenes familiar to the Indians; and Slow Smoke from 1925 – a book that revealed as increase I technique and wider outlook upon life.

He was described by Carl Sandburg as one of the nation’s most perceptive poets.  Mr. Sarett was considered one of the nation’s authorities in the field of speech until his death in August of 1954.  
                                                                                    Background Information from the Memories of Forest County 

Can’t Really Live in City; Poet Finds Haven in Forest
July 7, 1926 - Ironwood Daily Globe

Chicago – “A civilization that makes a man unable to live with himself and his family, unable to find contentment in
simple, wholesome home life close to the soil, that makes a man dependent on an artificial, hectic jazz life outside
of his home – a civilization like that is tragically defective somewhere.”

That short statement sums up the creed of Law Sarett, poet, scholar and woodsman. It is the creed that made his
life as professor at Northwestern University seem barren, cramped and unreal to him, so that last winter he abruptly
gave up and went to look for a wilderness haven.

In Virgin Forests – He has found what he was looking for.  This summer he is going to build a home for himself,
his wife and their son in the little town of Laona, up in the Virgin forests of Forest county, Wisconsin.  There they
will and try to regain their vigor by getting close to the earth.

Behind them Sarett will leave the cultivated secure life of Evanston, university town on the edge of Chicago.  The
only connecting link will be his professorship in the School of Speech.  Three months each year he will return to
Evanston to teach.  The rest of the time will find him in the north woods, where the wind rustles the pine branches
and the suns glints off the copper surface of winding rivers.

Not for Everyone – When Sarett announced his intention of moving to the woods, a Chicago business man who
knew him told him:

“It may be all right for you, Sarett, but the average man would die if he had to do that.  He needs many contacts –
luncheon clubs, cabarets, lodges and social events. The average man hasn’t the ability to live by and within
himself; he doesn’t want to.  He has grown dependent on artificial life outside his home.”

“And that,” replied Sarett, “proves my point.  It is a worse indictment of modern civilization than I have ever voiced.

“What are we here for? To make money, so were can buy things that will make us want still more money?  To
spend our days working and our nights dancing?  To live in apartments, one home piled on top of another? 

Fishing Too – “But I think the enduring things are simpler things; wholesome home life, the enjoyment of our
families, playing and wrestling with our youngsters, sitting by open fires with good books and a plate of apples
nearby, rambling in October woods, casting trout flies over pools.

“I think it is more important that a man grow within himself than that he have many lodge pins to wear on his coat.
And to grow inside, you have to be alone much of the time.

“Of course, I don’t mean that every family should move into the country.  But I do think that this would be a more
beautiful, healthy and more Christian world if every one of us went into the woods some part of every year.  I think
every man ought to live in closer touch with nature, ought to commune somehow and sometime with the spirit that
makes itself manifest there in bird and tree and waterfall.

What the Town Gives – “These things are so much more accessible if 
you live in a small town.  You can live on the edge of a village, in natural 
surroundings.  You can live in a house – and that is wonderful, after a 
period of apartment dwelling.  You can go hunting, and go fishing an 
hour or two in the evening after work; you can go camping, or have a 
cottage for week-ends at some lake.

“All you have to do is stay in tune with the song of the flicker, the voice 
of the wind, he call of the fields that lie close to the little towns,  And yet 
so many of us scamper to the city to run with the pack!”     

Wind In The Pine 

Oh, I can hear you, God, above the cry
Of the tossing trees – 
Rolling your windy tides across the sky,
And splashing your silver seas
Over the pine,
To the water-line
Of the moon.

Oh, I can hear you, God, 
Above the wail of the lonely loon – 
When the pine-tops pitch and nod –
Chanting your melodies
Of ghostly waterfalls and avalanches,
Swashing your wind among the branches
To make them pure and white.

Wash over me, God, with your piney breeze,
And your moon’s wet-silver pool;
Wash over me, God, with your wind and night,
And leave me clean and cool.

Lew Sarett    
Lew Sarett  
   Photo from the Memories of Forest County Research Project
Indian Summer 

When I went down the butte to drink at dawn,
Isaw a frozen lily by the spring,
A ragged stream-line rank of whistling swan,
And the swift flash of a willet's wing.

And now comes a hint of winter in the air:
Among the pensive valleys drifts a haze
Of dusty blue, and the quaking-asp lies bare
To the chill breath of hoary days.

Farewell, my mountian-ash and goldenrod,
For summer swoons in autumn's arms, and dies,
As the languid rivers drowse and the asters nod
Beneath the gray wind's lullabies.

Farwell, my fleet-foot antelope and doe;
Farewell, my wild companions of the hills -
Soon in your winter-slumber you will go
To a far land of singing rills.

Soon by the fire I'll sit with quiet dreams;
In the sinuous smoke, silver against the blue,
That floats above the dusky vales of streams,
My eyes will see the ghosts of you

Lew Sarett  
Marching Pines 

Up the drifted foothills,
Like phantoms in a row,
The ragged lines if somber pines
Filed across the snow.

Down the gloomy soulees
The burdened troopers went,
Snowy packs upon their backs-
Bowed of head and bent.

Up the cloudy mountains,
A mornful singing band,
Marching aimless to some nameless,
Undiscovered land.

Lew Sarett 
October Snow 

Swiftly the blizard stretched a frozen arm
From out the hollow night -
Stripping the world of all her scarlet pomp,
And muffling her in white.

Dead white the hills; dead white the soundless plain;
Dead white the blizzard's breath -
Heavy with hoar that touched each eoodland thing
With a white and silent death.

In inky stupor, along the drifted snow,
The sluggish river rolled -
A numb black snake caught lingering in the sun
By autumn's sudden cold.

Lew Sarett  
Look For Me 

When the sinking sun
Goes down to the sea,
And the last day is done, 
Oh, look for me
Beneath no shimmering monument,
Nor tablet eloquent
With stiff decorous eulogy;
Nor yet in the gloom
Of a chipped and chiseled tomb.

But when the pregant but shall burst
With April's sun, and bloom
Upon the bough -
Look for me now,
In the sap of the first
Puccoon whose fragile root,
Bruised by the rain,
Has left a crimsion stain
Upon the cedar-glade.

Oh, look for me then,
For I shall come again,
In the leopard-lily's shoot.

Lew Sarett  
U.S. Needs New Language of Courtesy, Lew Sarett Says
July 10, 1940 from the Appleton Post Crescent

Chicago - (AP)  American speech, in the judgement of poet-teacher Lew Sarett, needs a new way of saying "thank you," "please" and
"much obliged."

The usual words of politeness and gratitude, he says, fall far short of what they sought to express, and hardly ever have the ring of

"It is strange," he commented, "that in a department of speech where one might reasonably expect a superior kind of expressiveness,
poverty of imagination and banality of feeling actually prevail.

"The language of courtesy should be free from cliches, and have a special kind of beauty growing out of simplicity, spontaneity and
earnestness.  Instead, we have for the most part a collection of stiff and insufficient words.

"'Thanks,' 'thank you' and 'thanks to you' are not expressive enough.  'Appreciation' is too polysyllabic; it doesn't mean a thing.  'Much
obliged' is a vulgarism. 

"The phrase, 'I am grateful to you' comes closer to meeting the requirements than any other form.  If I had to fall back upon a single form,
I think it would be that one, because it is dignified and meaningful. "It warms my heart' is good, but it is somewhat literary and 

"What would be acceptable in place of 'please'?

"Well, one might suggest the longer form, 'Will you be kind enough to do such and such?' and 'Would you be considerate enough?' 
These aren't ideal substitutes, but I think they would be better than 'please.'"

 Badly a new terminology of polite intercourse was needed, Sarett said, any attempt to hasten a change by arbitrary methods would end
in self-consciousness and artificiality.

He suggested that each person could help to bring about an improvement by editing his own conversation. 
Lew Sarett Noted Poet, Dies At 66
August 19, 1954 from the Sheboygan Press

Gainesville, Florida - (AP)  Dr. Lew Sarett, 66, noted author, lecturer and poet who attended and was honored by Beloit College at Beloit,
Wisconsin, died Tuesday.

Dr. Sarett retired last year from Northwestern University where he was honored by the establishment of the Lew Sarett chair of speech. 
He had been visiting professor of speech at the University of Florida.  He suffered a heart attack at his home Saturday.

In addition to studying at Beloit College, Dr. Sarett attended the University of Michigan, Harvard and the University of Illinois.  He was
presented honorary degrees at Beloit and Baylor University.

He was the author of five books of poetry and a number of speech text books.

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