After the Winter Rain - by Ina Coolbirth, the first poet Laureate of California

I am reading a poem of hope by the first poet laureate of California, Ina Coolbirth. I found out today that I share my birthday with her, an abode in California and after every winter, a spring. And apparently also, the philosophy of optimism and the metaphor of singing! Below is her poem, followed by a short biography. 

After the Winter Rain 

After the winter rain,
Sing, robin! Sing, swallow!
Grasses are in the lane,
Buds and flowers will follow.

Woods shall ring, blithe and gay,
With bird-trill and twitter,
Though the skies weep to-day,
And the winds are bitter.

Though deep call unto deep
As calls the thunder,
And white the billows leap
The tempest under;

Softly the waves shall come
Up the long, bright beaches,
With dainty, flowers of foam
And tenderest speeches…

After the wintry pain,
And the long, long sorrow,
Sing, heart!—for thee again
Joy comes with the morrow.

- Ina Coolbirth

Ina Coolbrith

Biography of Ina Coolbirth

Ina Coolbirth was an important figure in the literary community of 19th- and early 20th-century San Francisco. 

Ina Coolbrith was born as Josephine Smith to Mormon parents in Nauvoo, Illinois. Her uncle, Joseph Smith, was the founder of the Mormon Church, and her father passed away when she was an infant. After her mother left the church and remarried, the family relocated to California in pursuit of the Gold Rush in 1849. Ina was educated in Los Angeles and published her first poems as a teenager in local newspapers. However, a tumultuous and abusive marriage, followed by the death of her infant son, marked a difficult period in her teenage years.

In 1865, Josephine took her mother's maiden name and became Ina Donna Coolbrith. She settled in San Francisco, where she hosted salons, co-edited the journal Overland Monthly with Bret Harte, and became the first woman to be an honorary member of the Bohemian Club. In 1874, she adopted three foster children and embarked on a career as a librarian, working at the Oakland Free Public Library and fostering the early reading of Jack London and Isadora Duncan.

Ina published four collections of poetry, including A Perfect Day (1881) and Wings of Sunset (1929), showcasing her versatility in formal structures. Despite the destruction of her home and many of her poems in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, she became California's first poet laureate in 1915. She served as the poet laureate of California until her death on February 29, 1928, in Berkeley, California.

Ina Coolbrith Park is located in San Francisco's Russian Hill and she is buried at Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery. Her grave went unmarked until 1986, when the Ina Coolbrith Circle erected a headstone in her honor.