Sunday, June 25, 2017

THE POETRY OF EARTH, a poem

"The poetry of earth is never dead."—Keats.

THERE is always room for beauty: memory
     A myriad lovely blossoms may enclose,
But, whatsoe'er hath been, there still must be
     Room for another rose.

Though skylark, throstle, whitethroat, whip-poor-will,
     And nightingale earth's echoing chantries throng,
When comes another singer, there will be
     Room for another song.
"The Poetry of Earth" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

DREAM THE GREAT DREAM, a poem

DREAM the Great Dream, though you should dream—you, only,
     And friendless follow in the lofty quest.
Though the dream lead you to a desert lonely,
     Or drive you, like the tempest, without rest,
Yet, toiling upward to the highest altar,
     There lay before the gods your gift supreme,—
A human heart whose courage did not falter
     Though distant as Arcturus shone the Gleam.

The Gleam?—Ah, question not if others see it,
     Who nor the yearning nor the passion share;
Grieve not if children of the earth decree it—
     The earth, itself,—their goddess, only fair!
The soul has need of prophet and redeemer:
     Her outstretched wings against her prisoning bars,
She waits for truth; and truth is with the dreamer,—
     Persistent as the myriad light of stars!
"Dream the Great Dream" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Pathfinder (June 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

On Poems (1898)

"My 'Poems' were written without a purpose, other than the expression of faiths and ideals strongly realized and emotions keenly felt. They were written for the joy of writing, and for the satisfaction of an irresistible impulse. It is my belief that it is not the business of art either to teach or to preach." ~Written at Camp Elsinore, Upper St. Regis Lake, New York, June 24, 1898. From Book News, August 1898.

Friday, June 23, 2017

IN MEMORY OF CAROLINE FURNESS JAYNE, a poem

Caroline Furness Jayne, American ethnologist and author of String Figures and How To Make Them (1906), died on this day in 1909. She was the daughter of Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness, to whom Mrs. Coates dedicated her fourth volume of poetry, The Unconquered Air (1912).

Caroline Furness Jayne
drawing by Sonja N. Bohm
after portrait by Wm. Merritt Chase
COULDST thou—thou, also, die, whom life so cherished?
     Couldst thou go from us, in thy beauteous June,
Leaving a sense of joy untimely perished,
     Of music stilled too soon?

We had not dreamed, fair child, that thou before us
     Shouldst find the meadows of the asphodel—
Shouldst hear, ere we, "the high imagined chorus,"—
     But, ah, for thee, 't is well!

Not thine to creep reluctant to death's portal:
     Thy spirit from the mirk of transient things
Rose radiant to the light of the immortal,
     With eager, outstretched wings!

For the grave gods, bestowing every blessing
     Upon a child of Earth, ere grief should come,
Crowned thee, in youth, with the mild touch caressing
     That calls their loved ones home!
"In Memory of Caroline Furness Jayne" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (October 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

TIME, a poem

WHAT thought can measure Time?—
Tell its beginning, name
     The void from which it first, faint-pulsing, came?—
     Follow its onward going,—
     A restless river without tumult flowing,—
Or with sure footing climb
Unto its unlit altitudes sublime?

What thought can trace the wonders it hath seen—
Time, the creator of all that hath been,
     Giver of bounty where was dearth,
     Bringer of miracles to birth:
Time, through whose office is the seedling sown,
The fruit up-gathered, the ripe harvest mown,
     And beauty made to glorify the earth?

Before the land took shape and rose
     Black and chaotic from the old, old sea,
Before the stars their courses chose,
     Before the moon's most ancient memory,
Time to Earth's vision, veiled in night, appears
Back of the viewless cycles of the years.

The Hours, his little children, run
     Lightly upon his errands ever;
By sure and swift relays is done
     His will, disputed never;
The while these transient Hours infirm
Measure of mortal things the destined term.

Ah, me, the days! the heavy-weighted years,
     Each with its Spring and Winter, dusk and dawn!
The centuries, with all their joys, and tears,
     That came, and now—so utterly are gone!
Gone whither? Whither vanished so?
Does broad Orion, or does Hesper know?

There comes no answer. Are we dupes, indeed,—
     Offspring of Time, by Time relentless slain,
     Our purest aspirations dreamed in vain?
     Ah, no: man's soul indignant doth disdain
Ignoble vassalage to such a creed,
Well-knowing it is free,—
     Aye, free!—for present, past, and future blend,
     The segments of a circle without end,
Losing themselves in one, unbourned eternity!
"Time" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The North American Review (June 1915) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

LINES FOR A FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY, a poem

GOLDEN their days have been, for love is golden—
     Golden as sunshine warm with life, not cold;
Lighting earth's pathway with the blessing olden
     That never groweth old.

It owns no Past; a help divine in sorrow,
     A strength to overmaster each annoy,
Love holds the faithful promise of a morrow,
     Immortal in its joy!
"Lines for a Fiftieth Anniversary" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

ODE ON THE CORONATION OF KING GEORGE V, a poem

"I have vowed to God to lead a right life in all things, to rule justly and piously my realms and subjects, and to administer just judgment to all. If heretofore I have done aught beyond what was just, through headiness or negligence of youth, I am ready with God's help to amend it utterly."—King Canute's letter to his English subjects.

     WHEN Nature takes away the things we prize,
With all a mother's patient tenderness
She soothes us, and from treasure limitless
Brings forth new joys to gladden our grieved eyes.

Before the leaves fall fluttering to the ground
Affrighted at the very breath and sound
Of the wind's passion, she from blight and storm
Garners the seeds of Summer, safe and warm.

She knows, though glad and sweet the wild bird sing,
How soon the trillium of the wood shall fade,—
Nor longer with its stars illume the shade,—
She knows, and harvests for a future Spring;

And though about her winds of Autumn sigh,
And though the rose—the rose, itself, must die,
And though the lordly pine that scorns to bend
Must fall at last,—she knows there is no end.

Sure of her birthright—elemental, vast,—
Calmly she waits; but man, to whom is given
Earth in its fullness and the dream of heaven,
Still looks with fond regret unto a past

Whose colors fade not in the distant light,
But rather to his worship grow more bright,
And careless as to that the future saith,
Pays tribute to the nothingness of death.
I
     When the fourth Henry, in that chamber called
Jerusalem, lay dying, with what fear,
Knowing the Angel-of-the-Shadow near,
Must he have viewed the future and, appalled,
Beheld succeeding to his perilous throne—
To reign and rule alone—
One who to Folly turned a laughing face,
Dallied with Fortune, and out-dared Disgrace.

More grievous, as the fatal hour drew nigh,
More dreadful than the death he might not fly,
More poignant than regret or mortal pain
Or memories of woeful Richard slain,—
More tragic than all else to him the thought
That his own offspring, in but little while,
Consorting with the worthless and the vile,
Should bring his dearly purchased good to naught.

Fainting, the King saw sorrows multiply,
And out of weakness dared to prophesy
Evil of Harry Monmouth! nor might guess
How idle his distress
For one whose future Honour should secure
In human hearts and in heroic story,—
The King new found, new crowned, at Agincourt,—
Great England's darling and her future glory!
II
But how should doubt not add to care its pain
When, after Mary Tudor's baleful reign,
Forth came from prison drear
Another Queen? Yet 't was her spirit, fired
By grave ambition, nobly men inspired
To victories thrice dear,—
Giving her Age to breathe immortal breath,
Illustrious in the name Elizabeth!
III
Still with misgiving crowns are laid
Upon the brow of kings.
Yet oft have fairest plantings been repaid
With poorest harvestings,
While following vain auguries of ill
To man have come, beneficently born,
Such reigns as his whose tact and generous will
The Nations of the earth late joined to mourn.

But no misgiving clouds the Future now!
In all the ages rarely hath there been
Such light of hope upon the forehead seen
As that which haloes her auroral brow,
Whose puissance shall uplift the poor and weak,
Whose love shall teach, to such as wisdom seek,
That they are blest who give, they only free
Who in the strength of Law find liberty!
IV
     England, it is thy coronation hour!
Doubt is of high and ancient lineage,
But faith is more than plenitude of power,
And now—distrust were treason. Turn in pride,

O England, to thy happy heritage!
And as the bridegroom forth to meet the bride
Fares smiling, so, from cloudy griefs of night,
Turn thou where lovely dawns the day's new light,

And with wise trust, the fruit of loyalty,
To his great father's throne
Make doubly welcome Alexandra's son—
Thy son, O England!—worthy thine to be!

Far from thy beauteous isle, across the Sea,
A Sister-Land prays heaven for him and thee—
Prays that the coming ages still may sing
The blessings of his reign.  God save the King!
"Ode on the Coronation of King George V" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and as "Henry V" in Poems (1916) Volume II. The later instance was published omitting stanzas II through IV along with the quotation from King Canute's letter to his English subjects.