New Hope at Guadalcanal

In November, 1944, Kay was on the train returning home, in the club car with four Red Cross nurses on their way to Guadalcanal. She overheard one say, "We're going to need something to cheer the men up, and I have the perfect book. I just got it as a gift and it has some great poetry in it. It just came out and it's called With Tongue in Cheek.." Another responded, "Oh, I've read that, but it came out a few years ago. It would be perfect." As each one commented on it, they turned to Kay and asked if she had ever read it. She had been shrinking in the corner, hoping not to get caught, but she had to reply, "If it's the book I'm thinking of, I think I wrote it."

They were amazed at the coincidence of meeting her and chatted for some time. The next day Kay returned to the car to write a letter, thinking they would be gone. Instead, she found not only the nurses but also several army men. On seeing her, one of the men approached her and said, "I understand you are a poet." "Well, sort of," Kay replied. He continued, "I wonder if you could help me. I'm on my way to the Library of Congress to try to find out who wrote a certain poem, and I'm hoping you might recognize it and know the author." Kay replied, "Oh, I don't think I can help you. I don't know any modern poets, in fact, I don't even like modern poetry. But why are you going to so much trouble to find out who wrote a poem?"

"Well, I'm stationed at Guadalcanal, in the hospital where there are many men who are maimed badly, often badly burned and missing arms and legs. Their girl friends or wives have left them and they have nothing to live for. When we tried to cheer them up, they were bitter and resented it so much, saying that we had no idea what they were going through. Then we found a single page from a poetry book that had washed up on shore. We read that poem to them at night through the public address system in the dark. It described their situation perfectly and then we told them that it was written before the war began, and that many other people have serious problems but find the strength to go on. It has given them new hope and the strength to go on. We want to make it into a recording, but we want to get permission from the author."

"That's wonderful that a poem could help so much. Can I see a copy of it?"

"Oh, I can recite it to you," he replied. It begins, "How do I go on from here? What happens now? The only world I care about is gone...." As he spoke, he saw her stunned expression and asked if she recognized it.

"Recognize it?" she stammered. "I think I wrote it," she slowly said, knowing it was "This Darkness Too," from If the Shoe Fits. Again, she was astounded at the incredible coincidence of this man finding her, and of learning what an influence her work had on people's lives. She also wondered how one page of her book could wash up on shore at Guadalcanal.

Later a possible answer to this last question presented itself. Her nephew Bobby Worsley later asked her for another copy of that book because his had been lost at sea when his ship had been sunk near Guadalcanal.

When Kathryn told this story, she added that she was aware the this one poem had revived many people from deep depression after tragedies. The movie star Edward Arnold had bought many copies of the book and had given them to all of this friends. One of those friends, Spencer Tracy, took a copy to Clark Gable when he was grieving over the sudden accidently death of his beloved wife Carol Lombard in an airplane crash. She learned of this because of her friendship with several movie celebrities, dating back to when she was hostess at KFI. It has given her much comfort to know she has helped so many people through their personal trajedies.

When asked what had moved her to write the poem in the first place, she related the following account. One morning she had read in the newspaper about a woman in England who came home from her war-supporting job one night to find her 400-year old family home had been destroyed by a bomb which had killed her husband, all her children, her mother and her mother-in-law. Although she had no one left to live for, somehow that woman had found the courage to go on and went back to work the next day. Kathryn has the gift of empathy, and suddenly felt all the trajedy the woman had felt, and the poem flowed from her soul as she visualized herself in that woman's shoes. She wept and wept as she wrote it, and was completely drained by the experience. Many people have assumed that Kathryn must have experienced all of the situations about which she wrote, but many of them were felt vicariously in this manner.

This Darkness, Too

God, how do I go on from here?
What happens, now?
The only world I care about is gone.
I know I must go on some way but how, God, how?
There seems so little left to build upon.
The fine incentives that I had before are dead,
and what did all my eager effort prove?
Futility, perhaps, but God, what lies ahead?
What is the next move when there is no move?
I know I'm not the only one who feels like this,
the world itself is torn and troubled, too.
It waits the time when doubt will find its nemesis
as night in day, as...oh, God, is that the clue?
The answer?...God, I think I see now why You gave
the promise of a dawn to every night....
God, suddenly it is no effort to be brave—
this darkness, too, will pass into the light!

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