Wednesday, October 3, 2018

HEART-ROOM, a poem

THE heart has room for gladness,
     None for joyless things and dull;
Such a very little sadness
     Fills it over-full.
So, with boundless space for loving,
     Enmity it deems excess,
Just a little hatred proving
     Too great bitterness.
"Heart-Room" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

On Alexander III of Russia

TO THE TSAR (1890)

O THOU into whose human hand is given
     A godlike might! who, for thy earthly hour,
Above reproof, self-counseled and self-shriven,
     Wieldest o'er regions vast despotic power!
               Mortal, who by a breath,
     A look, a hasty word, as soon forgot,
Commandest energies of life and death!—
Midst terrors dread, that darkly multiply,
     Wilt thou thy vision blind, and listen not
Whilst unto Heaven ascends thy people's cry?

In vain, in vain!  The injuries they speak
     Down unto final depths their souls have stirr'd:
The aged plead through them, the childish-weak,
     The mad, the dying,—and they shall be heard!
               Thou wilt not hear them; but,
     Though Heaven were hedged about with walls of stone,
And though with brazen gates forever shut,
And sentried 'gainst petitions of despair,
     'T were closely guarded as thy fearful throne,
That cry of helpless wrong should enter there!

O Majesty!  'T is great to be a king,
     But greater is it yet to be a man!
The exile by far Lena perishing,
     The captive in Kara who bears thy ban,
               Ransomed at length and free,
     Shall rise from torments that make heroes strong;
Shall rise, as equal souls, to question thee;
And for defense there nothing shall endure
     Of all which to thy lofty state belong,
Save that thou hast of human, brave, and pure!

Cæsar, thou still art man, and serv'st a King
     Who wields a power more terrible than thine!
Slow, slow to anger, and long-suffering,
     He hears his children cry, and makes no sign:
               He hears them cry, but, oh!
     Imagine not his tardy judgments sleep,
Or that their agonies He doth not know
Who, hidden, waste where tyrants may not see!
     Eternal watch He over them doth keep,—
Eternal watch,—and Russia shall be free!
"To the Tsar (1890)" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (January 1890) and Poems (1898).

Funeral of Alexander III


THE world in mourning for a Russian Tsar!
     A despot of the nineteenth century
     Mourned by the nations that have made men free!
     Ye captives of his rule! where'er ye be,
Whether in dungeons or in mines afar—
Wretches who mourn, yet mourn not for the Tsar,—
     Forgive the tears that seem a wrong to grief
     Barren of comfort and without relief;
The Tsar was Russia's martyr—as ye are!
He asked for peace, and she ordained him strife.
     A Slav of simple heart, disliking show,
     She bade him every lowly hope forego;
     And placing on his brow her crown of woe,
Gave him a sovereignty with perils rife,
And 'neath his sceptre hid the assassin's knife.
     So, masked as Fear, she broke his nerves of steel
     Upon the circle of her racking wheel,
And set a horror at his door of life!
Humanity but sorrows for her own;
     The Autocrat she mourns not, but the man,
     Who, loving Russia, lived beneath her ban,
     Powerless to soften fate or change the plan
That called him all unwilling to a throne,
Hereditary evils to atone.
     She mourns not Cæsar, but the pathos old
     Of a quick conscience driven to uphold
A dynasty the world had long outgrown.
Omitted from the 1916 version (rendered above), the 1898 rendering of this poem includes the following last stanza:
Woe to the Tsar!—Livadia's cannon boom,
     Proclaiming that the Tsar from woe is free!
     Peace to the Tsar! but, Russia, woe to thee!
     Still he who rules thee shall thy victim be,
Tortured by griefs that shall his heart consume,
Till he and thou, risen as from the tomb,
     Shall see the light on Liberty's calm face,
     Shall know that tyranny must yield its place
To the great spirit that hath breathed its doom!
"Alexander III" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

SIBERIA, a poem

THE night-wind drives across the leaden skies,
     And fans the brooding earth with icy wings;
     Against the coast loud-booming billows flings,
And soughs through forest-deeps with moaning sighs.
Above the gorge, where snow, deep-fallen lies,
     A softness lending e'en to savage things—
     Above the gelid source of mountain springs,
A solitary eagle, circling, flies.

O pathless woods, O isolating sea,
     O steppes interminable, hopeless, cold,
O grievous distances, imagine ye,
     Imprisoned here, the human soul to hold?
Free, in a dungeon,—as yon falcon free,—
     It soars beyond your ken its loved ones to enfold!
"Siberia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (March 1889), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, September 7, 2018


FAR, far the mountain-peak from me
Where lone he stands, with look caressing;
     Yet from the valley, wistfully
     I lift my dreaming eyes, and see
His hand stretched forth in blessing.

     Never bird sings nor blossom blows
Upon that summit chill and breathless
     Where throned he waits amid the snows;
     But from his presence wide outflows
Love that is warm and deathless!

     O Symbol of the great release
From war and strife!—unfailing fountain
     To which we turn for joy's increase,
     Fain would we climb to heights of Peace—
Thy peace upon the mountain!
"The Christ of the Andes" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

BUFFALO, a poem

McKinley assassination
Wikimedia Commons
On 6 September 1901, President William McKinley was shot and fatally wounded by an anarchist in Buffalo, New York.

 A TRANSIENT city, marvelously fair,—
     Humane, harmonious, yet nobly free,—
     She built for pure delight and memory.
At her command, by lake and garden rare,
Pylon and tower majestic rose in air,
     And sculptured forms of grace and symmetry.
     Then came a thought of God, and, reverently,—
"Let there be Light!" she said; and Light was there.

O miracle of splendor! Who could know
     That Crime, insensate, egoist and blind,
          Destructive, causeless, caring but to smite,
     Would in its dull Cimmerian gropings find
A sudden way to fill those courts with woe,
     And swallow up that radiance in night?

"Buffalo" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Independent (10 October 1901), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Peace!—mourn no more the martyr's fate!
Death came—though by the hand of hate,
His faithful life to vindicate,
     His name to set apart.
No more assailed, misunderstood,
He sleeps where love his grave hath strewed,
Safe sentinelled by gratitude,—
     The memory of the heart.

"McKinley" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Era (October 1901).

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


IN the heart of the forest arising,
     Slim, ghostly, and fair,
Ethereal offspring of moisture,
     Of earth and of air;
With slender stems anchored together
     Where first they uncurl,
Each tipped with its exquisite lily
     Of mother-of-pearl;
Mid the pine-needles, closely enwoven
     Its roots to embale,—
The Indian-pipe of the woodland,
     Thrice lovely and frail!

Is this but an earth-springing fungus—
     This darling of Fate
Which out of the mouldering darkness
     Such light can create?
Or is it the spirit of Beauty,
     Here drawn by love's lure
To give to the forest a something
     Unearthy and pure:
To crystallize dewdrop and balsam
     And dryad-lisped words
And starbeam and moonrise and rapture
     And song of wild birds?
"Indian-Pipe" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (March 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

JEWEL-WEED, a poem

THOU lonely, dew-wet mountain road,
     Traversed by toiling feet each day,
What rare enchantment maketh thee
     Appear so gay?

Thy sentinels, on either hand
     Rise tamarack, birch, and balsam-fir,
O'er the familiar shrubs that greet
     The wayfarer;

But here's a magic cometh new—
     A joy to gladden thee, indeed:
This passionate out-flowering of
     The jewel-weed,

That now, when days are growing drear,
     As Summer dreams that she is old,
Hangs out a myriad pleasure-bells
     Of mottled gold!

Thine only, these, thou lonely road!
     Though hands that take, and naught restore,
Rob thee of other treasured things,
     Thine these are, for

A fairy, cradled in each bloom,
     To all who pass the charmèd spot
Whispers in warning: "Friend, admire,—
     But touch me not!

"Leave me to blossom where I sprung,
     A joy untarnished shall I seem;
Pluck me, and you dispel the charm
     And blur the dream!"
"Jewel-Weed" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (16 May 1914) and Poems (1916) Volume I.