This book, as its title-page states, is made up of selections from the writings of California authors. Most of the selections refer to California—her scenic glories, mountains, valleys, skies, canyons, Yosemites, islands, foothills, plains, deserts, shoreline; her climatic charms, her flora and fauna, her varied population, her marvellous progress, her wonderful achievements, her diverse industries. Told by different authors, in both prose and poetry, the book is a unique presentation both of California and California writers. The Appendix gives further information (often asked for in vain) about the authors themselves and their work. It is the hope of the compiler that the taste given in these selections may lead many Californians to take a greater interest in the writings of their fellow citizens, and no interest pleases an author more than the purchase, commendation, and distribution of his book.
If this unpretentious book gives satisfaction to the lovers of California, both in and out of the State, the compiler will reap his highest reward. If any suitable author has been left out the omission was inadvertent, and will gladly be remedied in future editions.
George Wharton James.
1098 North Raymond Avenue
THE CALIFORNIA BIRTHDAY BOOK
Hearken, how many years
I sat alone, I sat alone and heard
Only the silence stirred
By wind and leaf, by clash of grassy spears,
And singing bird that called to singing bird.
Heard but the savage tongue
Of my brown savage children, that among
The hills and valleys chased the buck and doe,
And round the wigwam fires
Chanted wild songs of their wild savage sires,
And danced their wild, weird dances to and fro,
And wrought their beaded robes of buffalo.
Day following upon day,
Saw but the panther crouched upon the limb,
Smooth serpents, swift and slim,
Slip through the reeds and grasses, and the bear
Crush through his tangled lair
Of chaparral, upon the startled prey!
Listen, how I have seen
Flash of strange fires in gorge and black ravine;
Heard the sharp clang of steel, that came to drain
The mountain’s golden vein
And laughed and sang, and sang and laughed again,
Because that “Now,” I said, “I shall be known!
I shall not sit alone,
But shall reach my hands into my sister lands!
And they? Will they not turn
Old, wondering dim eyes to me and yearn—
Aye, they will yearn, in sooth,
To my glad beauty, and my glad, fresh youth.”
Ina D. Coolbrith,
in Songs from the Golden Gate.