Blacktone Parks Conservancy

The Statue

Statue on Blackstone BoulevardYou may have wondered about the statue of a young woman on the boulevard, near the intersection with Clarendon St. The bronze sculpture, A Memorial to Young Womanhood (or The Spirit of Youth), memorializes the spirit of youth and Constance Witherby, a girl who died of heart failure just before her sixteenth birthday while climbing in the Swiss Alps. While a student at Lincoln School, she began to write poetry, which was published after her death as a collection entitled Sunshine & Stardust. She is the author of the phrase engraved on the statue.

An Article About
Constance Witherby
From Lincoln School

The statue was dedicated in 1930, and was originally in Constance Witherby Park, which is a small park across from the Salvation Army on Waterman Street that was given to the city by Constance Witherby’s parents. After the statue was vandalized toward the end of the 20th century it was repaired by the city and moved to its present location on the boulevard. Her surviving brother, Frederich Rowland Hazard Witherby, approached the Blackstone Park Improvement Association for help in landscaping it, and paid for trees, shrubs, and the two granite benches at the site. Volunteers watered the following summer to insure the survival of the plantings, dragging a hose across the boulevard from a neighboring house.

The sculptor was Gail Sherman Corbett (1871 – 1952) from Syracuse, New York with ties to Rhode Island.  She was a descendent of Philip Sherman of Dedham, Essex, England, who came in 1633 to Roxbury, Massachusetts, and afterwards, with eighteen others, founded the town of Portsmouth and the Colony of Rhode Island. She was a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of the most important American sculptors of the nineteenth century.

Poems By Constance Witherby

 

The Birds are Singing

The birds are singing,
It is like spring in here.
Though the snow is on the ground,
The air is coming in;
It is like spring in here.

Granny, I made this poem.
Connie – January, 1917

 

Wishes

I wish I could see a mermaid fair,
With a glistening crown of pearls,
I wish I could see a fountain played
In the moonlight, falling in swirls.
I wish I could see a fairy spray
Of tinkling, merry, flower bells,
I wish I could have a happy day
In the quietest of shady dells.
I wish I could hear a bird’s gay song,
The rustling of poplars at home,
I wish I could take a journey long,
Or by the seaside roam.
Oh, I wish I could do what I want to do,
And have what I want to have.

1925

Spring Fever

Spring fever has caught me,
Poor, gasping, bright-scaled fish,
In the net of her mad enchantment.
It’s bad for me; I can not add
My figures, for my mind
Goes wandering off to finger your
Hair, to watch you smile.
I must shake it off; it’s bad for me,
This spring fever.

1929

 

Wanderlust

I am not ill.
My temperature is 98.6.
Yet every time I hear the thunder
Of the great grey sea,
And see its green crests curling and
Feel the brine upon my lips,
Every time I hear the roaring of
The express train passing by
With its lonely, screaming whistle,
Bound due west,
And its meteor-train of sparks
That flare across the sky,
Every time I hear a shod horse trotting
Along the hard whiteness of the road
That leads over the hill
And see its steaming breath and watch
Its muscles play,
Every time I hear a dog bay
In the leaf-bare snowless woods,
I must be gone.
Hark! Hear the wind whining in
The rigging of the tall, listing ships,
Whining through the nude arms of the trees,
Whining through the telephone wires!
Farewell!

1929