Poetry of Mary K. Buck, from the turn of the 19th Century


by Mary K. Buck (1849-1901), poet of renown from Traverse City

Was ever bay so lovely as our own Grand Traverse Bay,
With the sunlight on its ripples in bright and changeful play;
With snowy clouds above it, and pine-clad hills around;
With crystal depths, and shadowy coves where finny tribes abound.

Let others sing of Naples and the blue Vesuvian Bay,
None other can be lovelier than greets my eyes today.
Its changefulness enchants us, we love each varying mood—
If lashed to foamy billows, or by soft zephyrs wooed.

Each time it meets our vision more beautiful it seems;
It murmurs in our mem’ry, it flashes through our dreams.
The mood wherein we see it seems ever best of all,
Be it in morning’s brightness, or when the shadows fall;

When lulled to glassy smoothness, by south winds soft and low,
Or when above its white-capped waves the cold north breezes blow;
When rippling in the moonlight, or dyed with sunset’s glow,
Or in the morn when white-winged boats glide gladly to and fro.

There’s magic in its beauty—it holds us with a spell.
Could we but understand it, a strange, weird tale ‘twould tell:
Of red men of the forest, of dusky lovers’ vows.
Of warriors bold, and council fires where now the farmer plows.

But placidly it smileth ‘neath fleecy summer skies,
While o’er it sparkling waters no more the arrow flies.
Where once the red man hunted, now peaceful hamlets lie,–
But, like an echo of the past, still rings the loon’s wild cry.

Bright jewel of the northland, within thy green hills set,
Though other lands may claim me, thy charms I’ll ne’er forget.
Though ‘mid the storied splendors of distant shores I stray,
My longing thoughts like birds will fly back to Grand Traverse Bay.


Over the bay, over the bay,
Glide little boat for the billows are gay;
Bright in the sunlight the wavelets are dancing,
Down in the depths shining fishes are glancing,
Happy and free, happy and free,
Song birds are singing in glee.

Over the bay, Over the bay,
Lightly we row for our hearts are gay;
Blue are the skies that are bending above us,
Near are the friends that so tenderly love us,
Happy and gay, happy and gay,
Over the sparkling bay.

From Michigan in Literature, Andrews, Clarence, 1992:

An unusual entry is Mary K. Buck’s Songs of the Northland (1902), published posthumously.  Mrs. Buck (1849-1901) was born Marjanka Knizek in Bohemia and came to Traverse City, Michigan, at the end of the Civil War.  She attended college, became a schoolteacher and a contributor to several nationally circulated magazines.  She also collaborated with Mrs. M. E. C. Bates (see the October “Forgotten Stories” feature for information on Mrs. Bates) on a volume of northern Michigan stories, Along Traverse Shores.

Image courtesy of Traverse Area District Library, Local History Collection, Tom Olds Historical Postcard Collection. And if you guessed it was an Orson W. Peck postcard, you were right! http://localhistory.tadl.org/items/show/2146