Friday, April 20, 2018

AB HUMO, a poem

THE seedling hidden in the sod
     Were ill content immured to stay;
     Slowly it upward makes its way
And finds the light at last, thank God!

The most despised of mortal things—
     The worm devoid of hope or bliss,
     Discovers in the chrysalis
Too narrow space for urgent wings.

These are my kindred of the clay;
     But as I struggle from the ground
     Such weakness in my strength is found,
I seem less fortunate than they;

Yet though my progress be but slow,
     And failure oft obscure the past,
     I, too, victorious at last,
Shall reach the longed-for light, I know!
"Ab Humo" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (April 1905), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

LOVE AND THE CHILD, a poem

LOVE came into the world and said:
"With the tender infant on this bed
     Shall be my home; I will impart
     The winning graces to its heart
That blessing in life's pathway spread."

So—for Love crooned its lullabies—
His own smile dawned within its eyes,
     And into its small being stole
     The laughing radiance of his soul,
And all its eager sympathies.

Unconscious as the flowers that bless—
A tiny flame of lovingness—
     To any palm it gave at once
     A dimpled hand, in quick response,
Nor what "a stranger" meant might guess.

That to distrust is often well,
It heard with smile ineffable.
     Then, on a morn, Love came to say:
     "Thou child of mine, come, come away!
In Paradise to dwell!"
"Love and the Child" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (April 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

THEY TOLD ME, a poem

THEY told me: "Pan is dead—Nature is dead:
There is no God." I read
The words of Socrates, and then I read
Of Jesus; and I said:—
"''Divinity'' 's not dead!"

Good can nor poisoned be
Nor slain upon a tree:
The soul of good, escaping, still is free,
And in its ministry
Lives God eternally.
"They Told Me" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, a poem

"Eripuit cœlo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis."
FRANKLIN! our Franklin! America's loved son!—
     Loved in his day, and now, as few indeed:
Franklin! whose mighty genius allies won,
     To aid her in great need!

Franklin! with noble charm that fear allays,
     Tact, judgment, insight, humor naught could dim!—
"Antiquity," said Mirabeau, "would raise
     Altars to honor him!"

How should one country claim him, or one hour?
     Bound to no narrow circuit, and no time,
He is the World's—part of her lasting dower,
     One with her hope sublime.

His kindred are the equable and kind
     Whose constant thought is to uplift and bless;
The witty, and the wise, the large of mind,
     Who ignorance redress:

His kindred are the bold who, undismayed,
     Believe that good is ever within reach;
All who move onward—howsoe'er delayed—
     Who learn, that they may teach;

Who overcoming pain and weariness,
     In life's long battle bear a noble part;
All who, like him,—greatest of gifts!—possess
     The genius of the heart!

How should we praise whose deeds belittle praise,
     Whose monument perpetual is our land
Saved by his wisdom, in disastrous days,
     From tyranny's strong hand?—

How praise whose Titan-thought, beyond Earth's ken
     Aspiring, tamed the lightnings in revolt,
Subduing to the will of mortal men
     The awful thunderbolt?

Our debt looms larger than our love can pay:
     We know not with what homage him to grace
Whose name outlasts the monument's decay,—
     A glory to our race!
"Benjamin Franklin" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Reader (March 1906), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

*"Eripuit coelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis": A line in Latin that Marquis Turgot wrote under a portrait of Franklin.  An English translation by James Elphinston (pre-1817): "He snatcht the bolt from Heaven's avenging hand, / Disarm'd and drove the tyrant from the land.

Monday, April 16, 2018

THROUGH THE RUSHES, a poem

THROUGH the rushes by the river
     Runs a drowsy tremor sweet,
And the waters stir and shiver
     In the darkness at their feet;
From the sombre east up-stealing,
Gradual, with slow revealing,
Comes the dawn, and with a sigh
          Night goes by.

Here and there, to mildest wooing,
     Folded buds are open-blown;
And the drops their leaves bedewing,
     Like to seed-pearls thickly sown,
Sinking, with the blessing olden,
Deep into each calyx golden,
A supreme behest obey,
          Then melt away.

And while robes of splendor trailing,
     Fitly deck the glowing morn,
And a fragrance, fresh exhaling,
     Greets her loveliness new-born,
Midst divine melodic voicings,
Midst delicious mute rejoicings,
Strong as when the worlds began,
          Awakens Pan!
"Through the Rushes" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (March 1892), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Lycidas is dead, and hath not left his peer!"

Matthew Arnold
(1822-1888)

On this day...in 1888
Matthew Arnold dies

Six years after Matthew Arnold passed into "quiet realms Elysian," Florence Earle Coates dedicated her pen in tribute to her friend and mentor, Matthew Arnold—British poet and cultural critic.  Coates and Arnold first met in New York in 1883 at the home of Andrew Carnegie, and soon formed a lasting friendship.  Arnold's last letter to Mrs. Coates is dated February 24, 1888, in which he speaks of his remembrance of his last visit to Philadelphia, and of her tulip-trees and maples.

Matthew Arnold
by Florence Earle Coates
The Century Magazine, April 1894: 931-7.

IT is told of one of our poets that, when in England, he was asked who took Matthew Arnold's place in America, and he answered, "Matthew Arnold." The reply would still be just, and, excepting as he fills it, the place of Matthew Arnold must long continue vacant. Men of genius are not replaced, and if, dying, they leave their work half done, the loss is irreparable. But Arnold's message was delivered, whether in verse or prose, with an amplitude and distinctness to which few messages may lay claim, and is "full of foretastes of the morrow." [read more...]

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Poems on the "Titanic"

Wikimedia Commons
RMS Titanic

THE BAND OF THE TITANIC
"These are the immortal,—the fearless"—Upanishads

UP, lads! they say we've struck a berg, though there's no danger yet,—
     Our noble liner was not built to wreck!—
But women may have felt a shock they're needing to forget,
     And when there's trouble, men should be on deck.

Come!—now's the time! They're wanting us to brighten them a bit;
     Play up, my lads—as lively as you can!
Give them a merry English air! they want no counterfeit
     Like that down-hearted tune you just began!...

I think the Captain's worried, lads: maybe the thing's gone wrong;
     Well, we will show them all is right with us!
Of Drake and the Armadas now we'll play them such a song
     Shall make them of the hero emulous.

When boats are being lowered, lads, your place and mine are here,—
     Oh, we were never needed more than now!
When others go, it is for us those left behind to cheer,
     And I am glad, my lads, that we know how!

If it is Death that's calling us, we'll make a brave response;
     Play up, play up!—ye may not play again;
The prize that Nelson won at last, the chance that comes but once,
     Is ours, my lads!—the chance to die like men!
"The Band of the Titanic" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

THE "TITANIC"—AFTERMATH

O NATURE! overmastered by thy power,
Man is a hero still
And knighthood is in flower!
All save his tameless will
Thou can'st subdue by thine appalling might;
But failest utterly to quench his spirit's light.

Yea, though he seem, in conflict with thy strength,
A pygmy of the dust,
Heroic man, at length
Greater than thou, through trust,
Sovereign through something thou can'st not enslave,
Finds once again, in death, the life he scorned to save!
"The Titanic—Aftermath" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

On 18 May 1912, the New York Times reports that Mr. and Mrs. Coates are among those aboard the S. S. Minnewaska en route to London.  This voyage would take place one month after the sinking of the Titanic.  Sometime between then and July 1912, Mrs. Coates would write "The Band of the Titanic." She would also pen "The Titanic—Aftermath" to be published in The Unconquered Air and Other Poems released in November of the same year.  The Coates' were likely headed to painter John McLure Hamilton's home in Murestead, Grove End Road, London, N. W., England, for it was there, during the summer of 1912, that Mr. Hamilton painted their portraits.

Edward H. Coates (1912)
by John McLure Hamilton

The Philadelphia Inquirer, on 10 November 1912, describes the portrait of Mrs. Coates (not shown) as possessing "to a marked degree the charm and vivacity of the sitter, and while it is not an unqualified success in the drawing of the head, the perspective of which is open to criticism, it resembles the curate's egg in the excellence of its parts.  The hands are sympathetic and really rather wonderful in their character."