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Early Writings By Lois Duncan


My Mother- age 10

The Song of Life- age 12

Beach In Winter- age 13

Night Rains- age 14

Waiting- age 14

The Spinster- age 15

Song of Frustration- age 16

Child Moving Inland- age 17

Love In March- age 17

The Time Before- age 18



    My Mother
     written at age 10


The noon of life is warm and deep
With all the joys that be,
And I shall have a man's love
To hold my heart for me.


The eve of life is still and cool
And drenched with memories sweet,
And I shall have my little loves,
Playing at my feet.


But, oh, it is the dawn of life
With dreams so fresh and wild,
That holds for me my first love,
Who knows me as a child,


And when the night of life is here
And stars begin to wane,
Then it will be my first love
Who takes me in again.


 The Song of Life
     written at age 12


This is the song I am singing tonight
When the stars are pale and the sky is deep.
It's a song I have learned from all things bright,
When the weeping laugh and the laughing weep,
When the dying live and the living die,
For something is singing that's stronger than I,
Like the sun or the rain or the earth or the sky,
While the sleeping wake and the waking sleep.


This is a song of forgotten things,
The flowers of summer, the hush of the snow,
The millions of glorious, golden springs
That blossomed and faded and died long ago.
It's a song that was made when the earth was begun
Of the dances we dance and the races we run,
Of the laughter and tears that will never be done
And the millions of things that we never will know.


Beach In Winter
     written at age 13
published in The Saturday Evening Post


The wind screams sharply against the rocks.
The sky is heavy and hanging low,
And people who sprawled on the sunny beach
All packed and departed long months ago.


Here, where the gay umbrellas bloomed
And tawny children built forts of sand,
There's only the wind to go walking now,
Alone and restless across the land.


Even the gulls have gone their way.
The waves rise high in an icy wall --
For summer was millions of years ago
And probably never was real at all.


 Night Rains
written at age 14


The rains came down from the hills tonight.
The wild rains came and, without a sound,
They woke the grass in the steaming ground,
And where they passed the streams grew wide
And tumbled down the mountain side
A river rose from out its bed,
And where the weary fields lay dead
Young green things came alive again
And lay there, laughing, in the rain.
From silent hills the rains came down
And fell all night upon the town
Where we lay, lost in careless sleep,
While valleys filled and seas grew deep.



   written at age 14
       published in Seventeen Magazine


There was a night wind up from the river,
Slipping through the rushes, breathing on the hill.
A night cloud covered the thin moon sliver,
(And I stood waiting where the trees bent over
And the air hung heavy with the scent of clover)
            And the world was still.
                        So still.


There was a night wind down from the meadow
Where the soft white daisies covered the ground
I stood waiting in the night cloud's shadow,
(Waiting for the tremor of a light foot's turning
To set the night into sudden burning)
            But there was no sound.
                        No sound.


There was a night wind up from the gloaming.
The night cloud slipped, and the moonlight played
On the silent path where the winds came roaming,
(And I stood waiting, although I knew
How deep was the night between us two)
            And I grew afraid.
                        So afraid.



 The Spinster
   written at age 15


There is the house where she used to live,
And there, where the rambler roses run
Up the high porch posts, is the rocking chair
Where she used to sit in the morning sun.
And there are the shades that she used to draw
To keep out the dark when day was done.
      And she was never lonely.


There is the patch of herbs she grew,
Kneeling alone in the early spring
To break the ground still hard with cold.
And there, from the oak, hangs a broken swing
That was used by the children who lived next door,
(She always said they'd break the thing).
     And she was never lonely.


There are the pictures she kept so long
Secure in a frame above her head.
And there is the clock with the cuckoo bird
Who mocked as the hours came and fled.
And there is the dressing gown she wore
When she stretched herself on the half-warmed bed.
     And she was never lonely --
            She said.



 Song of Frustration
 written at age16
        published in Seventeen Magazine


Roger will call at 8:15,
            This I know for a fact.
            I know exactly what Roger will say
            And just how Roger will act.
            Roger's the dearest boy in town,
            He thinks of me night and day,
(But maybe -- maybe -- Steve will call!
Please, dear heaven, that Steve should call!
If he happens to think of it, Steve might call,
            And I mustn't be away.)


            Roger will call at 8:15,
            Never a moment late.
            Roger is thoughtful and fine and sweet,
            Really a perfect date.
            There's always Roger, who's awfully nice,
            (But if I sit home alone
Maybe -- maybe -- Steve will call!
If there's nothing better he just might call,
and, please, dear heaven, if he should call
            I have to be near the phone!)


            Roger will call at 8:15
            As he always has before.
            But if I leave it, the phone will right
            The moment I'm out the door.
            And so, I guess, I'll stay at home
            And read a while in bed
(And wait and wait for Steve to call,
And tell myself, "He still might call!")
Though I know damned well he'll never call,
            and I wish



 Child Moving Inland
    written at age 17
(published someplace, years later, but I can’t
remember where—possibly Good Housekeeping)


We lived by the sea for so many years
That she stopped noticing long ago
The swish of water against the rocks
And the cry of gulls when the tide was low.


She never heard, when she lay in bed,
The sea wind whispering past our door
Or the constant murmuring all night long
Of restless waves on a sandy shore.


It's only since we have come away
That we find her listening for the sea.
I think she never had guessed before
How strangely silent a night could be.



 Love In March
written at age 17
published many years later in Home Life


Falling in love is a kite in the wind,
Tugging and straining to get to the sun,
Darting and dipping and doubling back --
"Is this forever?  Can he be the one?"


Plunging toward earth as the breezes go slack --
"Gosh, he's so quiet.  He thinks I'm a bore.
No -- now he's smiling!  He likes me again!"
Caught from beneath and sent soaring once more.


Falling in love is a hazardous thing --
All of your dreams on the end of a string.



 The Time Before
 written at 18
     published in Seventeen Magazine


I am glad for the time before I met you,
You who are so close to me now and so dear.
I am glad for the summers before you came,
For the long, golden summers before I knew your name
Or came to want you near.


I am glad for the times I walked alone with my head high,
Dreaming secret dreams, glad to be alone --
Silly little dreams, but all my own.


I am glad for the love I gave before my love for you,
For the hands I held, and for the young, sweet words I tried to say,
Thinking they were true,
Little knowing you would come someday
And sweep all other thoughts of love away.


I am glad for springs that bloomed and broke,
And glad for laughter that we did not share,
And mornings when I stretched and yawned and woke
And rose to wash my face and comb my hair
Without a thought of you, glad of the tears
And smiles and thoughts and dreams that filled the years
That were my life before you came to be
So very dear to me.


Oh, I am glad for time in which I grew
To be myself, glad that I walked alone --
Glad I can give you something of my own
Now that I am so much a part of you.




































I grew up in Sarasota, Florida, the daughter of magazine photographers, Joseph and Lois Steinmetz.  I have one brother, Bill, who is three years younger.


I was a shy little girl, a bookworm and a dreamer. I had a lovely childhood, playing alone in the woods and on the beaches.  I don’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a writer.  I started submitting stories to magazines when I was 10, and when I was 13, I started selling them.  My mother kept trying to turn me into more of a well-rounded person by enrolling me in dance, piano and tennis lessons.  None of them “took.”  I quit them as soon as I could.  I just wanted to be left alone to write.


But all that changed when I reached high school!  By age 16, I’d sold enough stories to  buy myself a jeep.  Very few teenagers had cars back then, so I suddenly became quite popular.  I had a wonderful time in high school!  I continued writing for magazines, but I didn’t talk much about it, because I didn’t want my classmates to think I was “different.”













I must have been about 15 when this was taken at a high school football game.  The boy with me is my brother, Bill.










Here I am at age 16.  Those were the years when teenagers dressed up for dances.  And all of us girls had “dance cards.”  It was the boy’s job to take his date’s dance card around and have other boys sign it.  Then, when the announcer shouted, “Dance Number Seven!” or whatever number it was, the girls would look on their dance cards to see who their partners would be. 















This was my senior prom, and that handsome boy was my senior-year-boyfriend, Sumner Darling.  (Yes, that was really his name, and he really was darling!)


























Oops!  I can’t believe it! There I am in the same outfit!  I never cared much about clothes.  I just kept wearing them and wearing them until they wore out.

















Every year on Senior Day, (which was usually April Fool’s Day), the senior class at Sarasota High School had a costume parade.  Following that, they took the day off and went to the beach.  When I was a senior, I dressed up as “The Little White Cloud That Cried,” which was the title of a popular Johnnie Ray song.  (As you can see, I had my swimming suit on underneath so I could head straight to the beach when the parade was over.)