Tuesday, July 17, 2018

JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER, a poem

James McNeill Whistler (self portrait)
(1834-1903)
GREATEST of modern painters, he is dead!—
     Whistler, in whom death seemed to have no part:
     He of the nimble wit and jocund heart,
Who sipped youth's nectar at the fountain-head,
And felt its wine through all his veins run red:
     Who worshiped the ideal—not the mart,
     And blessed the world with an imperial Art,
Whereby who longs for beauty may be fed!

When things men deem momentous are forgot,
Laurels will bloom for him that wither not;
     And Death's inverted torch shall fail to smother
The light of genius, tender and sublime,
Which with austere restraint, and for all time,
     Painted the gentle portrait of the "Mother"!
"James McNeill Whistler" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (November 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Whistler's Mother (1871), or Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1

Monday, July 16, 2018

THE WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, a poem


"When the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows."
WOULD you feel the witching spell
     Of the whitethroat, listen!
There are secrets he can tell
Of the marsh, and of the dell
     Where the dewdrops glisten.

Poet of the brooding pine
     And the feathery larches,
Dawn-lit summits seem to shine,
Lucent in each throbbing line,
     Under azure arches.

All his soul a floating song,—
     Sweet, too sweet for sadness,—
At his bidding, hither throng
Memories that make us long
     With a plaintive gladness.

Ah, were all the woodland bare,
     Should those notes but quiver,
Straight I'd see it budding fair!—
And the lilies would be there,
     Floating on the river!
"The White-throated Sparrow" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

THE IDEAL, a poem

"Not the treasures is it that have awakened in me so-unspeakable a desire, but the Blue Flower is what I long to behold."—Novalis.
SOMETHING I may not win attracts me ever,—
     Something elusive, yet supremely fair,
Thrills me with gladness, but contents me never,
     Fills me with sadness, yet forbids despair.

It blossoms just beyond the paths I follow,
     It shines beyond the farthest stars I see,
It echoes faint from ocean caverns hollow,
     And from the land of dreams it beckons me.

It calls, and all my best, with joyful feeling,
     Essays to reach it as I make reply;
I feel its sweetness o'er my spirit stealing,
     Yet know ere I attain it I must die!
"The Ideal" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (May 1891), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

CIVILIZATION, a poem

OLD as the race of man,
     Young as the child new-born,
From glooms Plutonian
     I mount to paths of morn;
And as I move o'er vale and hill,
     Before me flees the night,
For on into the darkness still
     I bear my light.

The desert stayed me long
     Its fancied worth to tell;
The savage, subtle and strong,
     Opposed me, and he fell:
But the savage learned from conflict past
     To battle and succeed,
And the foolish desert came at last
     To bloom indeed.

I halt not for the maimed,
     I wait not for the blind;
My foot is never lamed,
     Whoe'er may laugh behind:
I hasten on, like the wind of God,
     To the conquest He ordains:
Parting the human from the clod,
     Undoing chains.

The thing that hindereth
     My progress as I pass,
Is withered in my breath
     Like parch├Ęd summer grass.
I hasten on, like the wind of God,
     That must unfettered blow,
Wooing the blossom from the sod
     Where are you going?

I taught the Hindoo throng
     To worship: I awoke
The Pyrrhic phalanx strong,
     To break the Persian yoke:
I set great Pharaoh's captives free,
     The Tarquin's pride down-hurled,
And in a child of Galilee,
     O'ercame the world!
"Civilization" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

BEREFT, a poem

DEATH took away from me my heart's desire,—
     Full suddenly, without a word of warning;
Froze with benumbing touch her body's fire,
     And darkened her young morning.

Death hid her then where she is safe, men say,—
     Imprisoned in a deep-digged grave and hollow,
Where grief and pain may never find a way,
     Nor any torment follow.

Safe!—and because of fear, they deem 't was best
     For her, perchance,—this thing which they call dying,
But cold she could not be against my breast
     As there where she is lying!

Sometimes I dream, with sudden, wild delight,
     That she escapes the cruel bonds that bind her,
And fond I seek through all the throbbing night,
     But never, never find her!

Sometimes—But have the dead then no regrets?—
     Ah, me! I think, though she hath so bereft me,
My loved one cannot be where she forgets
     How lonely she hath left me!
"Bereft" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Reader (June 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, May 7, 2018

IN THE OFFING, a poem

THE Ship of the Spring in the offing at last!
     Oh, rude blew the hindering gales,
But perfumes entrancing, the danger o'erpast,
     Are wafted afar, from her sails!

The bearer of treasure more fragrant than myrrh—
     More precious than jewels of Inde,
The stars in their courses keep watch over her,
     The gods for her temper the wind.

She comes as a maid whom life's vision elates,
     Out-spreading her draperies white;
She comes as a bride whom a lover awaits
     With proud and impatient delight.

A queen, as she glides to the goal of her dreams
     With movement majestic and slow,
So still is her beauty, half-conscious she seems,—
     But the heart in her breast is aglow;

For she hears the far murmur of myriad things
     That shall at her coming have birth.
O sails in the offing! ye are as the wings
     Of angels that bring her to Earth!
"In the Offing" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Minaret (May 1917).

Sunday, May 6, 2018

BROOK SONG: TO THE SPRING, a poem

O BEAUTY! vision of forgotten gladness!
     Fulfillment of a dream that ne'er betrays!
O miracle of hope, and balm of sadness!
     Creative ecstasy and fount of praise!

     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·

I lay upon the ground and gave no token,
     I hid my face mid sodden leaves and sere,
My languid pulses chill, my spirit broken,—
     I knew not, O divine one! you were near;

For snows and frosts of winter, new-departed,
     Still held my will in thrall and weighed me down;
And I forgot—forlorn and heavy-hearted—
     Your promise, goddess of the violet crown!

But soft as music in remembrance sighing,
     You fanned me with your wooing breath, and I
Who shed no tears when lone I seemed and dying
     Wept at your touch, and knew I should not die.

Now by my banks are tender blossoms blowing:
     In fragrant loveliness they smile on me,—
But I must hasten to the river, knowing
     The river will lead onward to the sea.

High over me the budding branches quiver
     With songs that swell in happy harmony;
But sweeter is the murmur of the river,—
     The river that leads onward to the sea!
"Brook Song: To the Spring" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (6 May 1899), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.