Quick Reference

Time Period:
Unknown, believed to be from Redgate period, 1911 - 1922

Unknown- Shelburne Falls?

For print








Though technically not an "illumination" in the traditional sense of the definition, RSW refers to it as such. In this case, we believe he is referring to the combination of an illustration accompanying lines of verse.

Related Links

Featured Artwork: Night Verses to the Little Shops

The Verse

Typewritten copy
Among the papers held by RSW's
cousin Florence was this typewritten copy
of the verse from Helen Ives' personal papers.
It contains only two of the three verses and
was copied by another cousin Flora White.



You are sure, you are certain to know
When a body's spirit is broken and down,
When chance and life wain low;
For the frown of the world you always drow
In your window-lamps' yellow flow.

Your barred and radiant bosoms rise
As I tell you each night my trial;
The little cafes blink their smokey eyes,
The stalls of the fruitier smile ---
And all solemn and wise each trinket-shop vies
With her neighbor that Life's worth the while.

The lights uptown stare open and bold
To shimmer the silken gay,
But you fire the dross in my Hope to gold
You mellow my heart's dismay;
I have told you alone my beloved laughs cold,
That in sorrow I've wandered away!

Additional Notes

RSW handwritten verse
Included in his letter to Helen is this handwritten
page of the verse. At the top he explains it was
written for a magazines but does not name it.

It may surprise some to learn this but RSW loved the written word and ideas nearly as much as he did nature. He once remarked in a 1907 letter to Helen that, "I usually wish I too might be a 'becoming writer of note' in all earnest. It would be so delightful to have something to say to the world, something of vital life interest, and to be able to say it as one should -- to be a Carlyle, Macaulay, a Voltaire, or Ibsen, and -- by all means a Browning. But during such wishes I catch myself and say, knowing within me the while, that it's to be quite as beautiful to be an artist , to tell men of godly beauty thru color and form, my religion, especially the former."

Woodward began his career in art (1911) as a commercial artist making illustrations for publications in print, designing bookplates (popular and fashionable at the time- a bookplate was a sort of label for a specific "coat-of-arms" and the name from its owner to be added to a book in the person's collection or library and among other things such as catalogues of professionals, and he made custom "illuminations" for "any occasion" including artwork and verse.

We continue to discover and learn more about Woodward every day. This previously unknown work was found as part of the Helen Ives Schermerhorn,collection of letters. There are still thousands more pages of documents to uncover. RSW's first met Helen when he was a student at the Union Clssical Institute in Schnectady, NY(1900?). They began writing each other after he left for Peoria, IL in 1901 and became life-long friends. Upon Helen's death, her sister-in-law- Anna, gave the letter Helen saved to to his cousin Florence Haeberle. Florence later gave a number of letters and personal items to the Smithsonian Institute for perservation.

Woodward's signature credit
A photo of Helen Ives Schermerhorn
from her 1925 passport

It is unclear what year RSW first met Helen. We are not sure of when he arrived in Schnectady. We only know he left there in December of 1901 after staying with the Schermerhorns for a period of time while his parents moved on to the next project, the historic Uplands neighborhood in Peoria. Woodward's father, Orion Leroy (O.L.), was a real estate developer and moved his family all about the country frequently. Schenectady was a detour after many years in the Midwest, mostly Ohio. If it not for Helen, we would know very little about the likes, dislikes and personal side of RSW, especially his years in Peoria, IL or his state of health and well-being in the months immediately following his tragic accident. He himself did not keep letters he received, perhaps he felt they would create too much clutter? Helen saved quite a few. We do not think she kept all of his letters (there are gaps in context) but from 1902 to as late as 1953, it seems she kept ones that had a particular interest or importance to her.