Sunday, October 22, 2017

L'AMOUR FAIT PEUR, a poem

Written in Baltimore, Marlyand, "L'Amour Fait Peur" by Florence Earle Coates was published in The Independent (22 October 1908), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.
A COWARD is man, yet a hero
     Whose will overmasters his fear,
Till peril no longer appals him,
     And danger itself groweth dear.
Poised and strong, asking no intervention,
     He hazards the rock and the shoal;
One only thing halts his pretension,—
     Love frightens the soul.

Self-disciplined, slowly but surely,
     Disaster accustomed to brave,
He makes a companion of sorrow,
     Nor falters at threat of the grave;
Nay, often would hold it at nearer
     Approach, a beneficent goal—
But, ah! with the thought of one dearer,
     Love frightens the soul!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

THE HOSPITAL, a poem

I

IN THE MATERNITY WARD
IS this the place? So still!—as with the hush
     That follows storm.
Each on her narrow bed, they quiet lie—
They who, so young, have been so near to die—
     Seeming of life but effigy and form.

How fair these girlish faces with closed eyes!
     Passion and strife
Seem far from them. Are these beyond their reach?
Nay, see!—high-cradled at the foot of each,
     A tender, new-born miracle of life!

On slippered feet the nurses to and fro
     Move noiselessly.
A feeble cry!—a sigh half breathed in sleep!
But who is this that vigil here doth keep—
     What presence of august benignity?

O strangely moving vision! I behold
     The Mighty Mother!—
She who, wandering friendless and forlorn,
Sought far and near the child herself had borne,
     Finding nor help nor comfort in another.

Over the weakness here so proven strength,
     She, heavenly,
Bends down; and, lo! the room becomes a shrine
And hallowed altar for a love divine,
     Pure as her love for lost Persephone!
II

IN THE SURGICAL WARD
"He that loveth his life shall lose it"
     Last night a shape of fear
     Came in the silence drear—
          Unlooked-for and unsought—
With stealthy, ghost-like motion drawing near.

     I could not see its face
     In the unlighted place;
          No sound of it I caught;
But, shuddering, I felt its creeping pace.

     A thing too dread to bear,
     I knew that it was there.
          And, my warm blood grown cold,
An icy breathing horror stirred my hair.

     With pain-shut eyes I lay,
     Wishing yet dreading day
          That with strange pangs untold
Should come, my frame to rack in a new way,

     And powerless to free
     Myself, despairingly,
          "From the body of this death,"
I moaned, "Who shall deliver me?"

     Then, all my pulses stirred,
     Awed and amazed, I heard—
          Uttered with calming breath
Distinct and clear, apart from me—a word,

     In far Judæa taught,
     That instant freedom brought,—
          Winging my soul's escape
Through the blest miracle of heavenly thought.

     And in the dreaming dawn,
     Waiting, all fear withdrawn,
          I knew the coward Shape
From out my life forevermore was gone.
"The Hospital" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in part as "In the Maternity Ward" in The Forum (October 1913), and subsequently in both parts in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, October 20, 2017

MY COUNTRY, a poem

BELOVÈD thou hast triumphed everywhere!
     Thou hast outgrown, men say, that selfless Right
     Which bade thee for the weak expend thy might;
And as a giant strong, dost claim thy share
Of earth's rich conquest, and will naught forbear.
     I listen, and behold, with grievèd sight,
     Upon thy beauteous brow a baleful light,
And something sinister, new-written there.

O my belovèd! art thou changed, indeed?
     Remembering thy birth and peerless dower,
     Canst thou thine altars to Compassion find?
Ah, woe if thou deface them! set to feed
     The unappeasèd lust of wealth and power
     That leagues with the oppressors of mankind!
"My Country" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A TOMB IN TUSCANY, a poem

Presumably a poem about the monument of Archpriest Bartolomeo Aragazzi, secretary of Pope Martin V. "Twelve years before his death ... he commissioned Donatello and Michelozzo to make his monument for the parish church of Montepulciano (his native town) at an expense of twenty-four thousand scudi. Such a use of his money corroborates the general opinion that he was as eminent for his vanity as for his poetry and learning." (Tuscan Sculptors Volume I by Charles C. Perkins, 1864)

Tomb of Bartolomeo Aragazzi
Wikimedia Commons
IN Montepulciano fair,—
Long famous for that vintage rare,
Prized by the giver of the vine
       Above all wine,—
There dwelt a man whose years had taught him
To seek, beyond what wealth had brought him,
Something to give his transient name
       A lasting fame.

"For lordly palaces," he said,
"Shall crumble; ay, and bastions dread,
And temples grave and gardens gay
       Become as they;
Each vaunted image of my power
Shall perish like a wayside flower,
And like the hawk my hand hath fed
       Lie waste and dead.

"Wherefore, ere yet my days be spent,
I will uprear a monument
That 'gainst the envious floods of Time
       Shall stand sublime;
My treasures vast shall serve and cherish
An art too heavenly to perish:
A beauty, born of passion pure,
       That shall endure!"

So spake he. . . .  Now he lies asleep;
But near him forms angelic keep
Unwearied watch, and from decay
       Guard him alway:
Rare sculptured forms that blend his story
With Donatello's deathless glory,
And make mankind his debtors be
       Eternally.

For lordly castles, as he said,
Have crumbled; aye, and bastions dread,
And temples grave and gardens gay
       Are now as they:
Each vaunted image of his power
Has perished like a wayside flower,
But living in the art he fed,
       He is not dead!
"A Tomb in Tuscany" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

VAGRANT, a poem

THE love that has no memories and no hope,
     Is like the weed that blossoms for an hour;
     That putting forth its one imperfect flower,
Straightway doth languish.  It can neither cope
     With the strong tempest, nor with the mild power
     Of mellow sunlight, nor with the soft shower.

It has no root in nature, and it dies,
     Leaving no fragrance and no fruit behind;
     And none lament it, nor return to find
Its bed when, beaten low, it bruisèd lies:
     Unfriended, and forsaken of its kind,
     It blows about, at mercy of the wind.
"Vagrant" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

LOVE, DOST THOU SMILE? a poem

LOVE, dost thou smile, believing thou shalt cheat
The triform Fates, because thou art so sweet?
Thy beauty, which delights and makes afraid,
Shall surely as the rose of autumn fade,
And pain and grief shall find thee, and slow scorn;
     And thou shalt know neglect, and friendship hollow;
And at the last, pale hope, thy light of morn,
     Shall bring thee to a goal where none will follow.

Love, dost thou weep—in all the sorrowing earth,
Thou the one only thing of perfect worth?
Midnight and morn alike to thee belong;
Poor, thou art rich; defenceless, thou art strong;
Upon thy altar burns perpetual fire
     That mounts and flames aloft to heaven's high portal;
Thou quickenest, from evil, pure desire,—
     Triumphant in defeat, in death immortal!
"Love, Dost Thou Smile?" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (October 1905), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, October 16, 2017

OF LOVE, a poem

OF Love the gods require no task,
Content to grant whate'er may ask
     The boy from Venus sprung,—
For howsoever grave his mask,
     They know the lad is young:

Aye, young, indeed! Though, spite of warning,
Often at dusk, all prudence scorning,
     He daring sail unfurls,—
Yet, fragrant still, the breath of morning
     Lingers amid his curls.

What count takes he of days or years?—
E'en pain itself but more endears
     The strange, immortal boy,
Who whilst his eyes o'er-brim with tears,
     Yet keeps the heart of joy!
"Of Love" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (October 1906) and Lyrics of Life (1909).