Willa Cather

Frontier Life Novels

December 7, 1873  
Today is the birthday of the American writer Willa Cather. Remembered for her novels of frontier life like O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, Willa won a Pulitzer for her World War I novel called One of Ours.

Here’s an excerpt that will delight the ears of gardeners from Cather’s My Antonia. The story’s narrator is Antonia’s friend Jim Burden. In this excerpt, Jim is lying on the ground in his grandmother’s garden as the warm sun shines down on him:

"The earth was warm under me,
and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers.
Queer little red bugs came out
and moved in slow squadrons around me.
Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots.
I kept as still as I could.
Nothing happened.
I did not expect anything to happen.
I was something that lay under the sun and felt it,
like the pumpkins,
and I did not want to be anything more.
I was entirely happy.
Perhaps we feel like that when we die
and become a part of something entire,
whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge.
At any rate, that is happiness;
to be dissolved into something complete and great.
When it comes to one,
it comes as naturally as sleep."

— Willa Cather, American writer, My Antonia

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Willa Cather
Willa Cather

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