Friday, February 17, 2017

THE LAND OF PROMISE, a poem

ALTHOUGH the faiths to which we fearful clung
     Fall from us, or no more have might to save;
     Although the past, recalling gifts it gave,
     O'er lost delights a doleful knell have rung;
Although the present, forth from ashes sprung,
     Postpone from day to day what most we crave,
     And, promising, beguile us to the grave,—
Yet, toward the Future, we are always young!

It smiles upon us in last lingering hours,
     If with less radiance, with a light as fair,
          As tender, pure, as in our childish years:
It is the fairy realm of fadeless flowers;
     Of songs and ever-springing fountains, where
          No heart-aches come, no vain regrets, no tears!
"The Land of Promise" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Cosmopolitan (February 1895), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Mrs. Coates may have sent this poem to Walt Whitman in 1888 (albeit under a slightly different title), for in With Walt Whitman in Camden (1888) we read of Whitman's response: "Mrs. Coates has sent him a poem, type-written: The Promised Land. 'The letter that came with it was very hospitable, forth-giving: I liked it: indeed, the letter was a better poem than the poem: a real poem in fact.'" [p. 396]

Other excerpts from the same book mentioning the Coates' are as follows:
I am told [Mrs. Coates] bears me in mind and is of a disposition to look with something of favor on my work—which I might say, quoting one of William's playful quips, 'shows her good sense.' They tell me Mrs. Coates is quite a woman among women—is beautiful, shines with great brightness, and, by those who know her well, is admired and cherished...[93] I don't know Mr. Coates but I know the wife—a beautiful, true woman, I have always believed her. We have had several talks together—or maybe only one talk: I am not clear about that now—but I shall always remember what she said—the effect of her talk, which was mainly about Matthew Arnold, who was her guest in Germantown. Arnold is a man for whom I never seem to be able to get up any stir—with whom I never have had and never could have a thorough-going affinity. But Mrs. Coates gave me the other side of him—the social side, the personal side, the intellectual side—the side of deportment, behavior—the side which I ought perhaps most to hear about and did willingly and gladly hear of from her. For every man has that better thing to be said of him—is entitled to all it may mean, signify, explain...[112] Yes, tell the Coates people—Mrs., Mr. Coates—to come over: I will see them...[156] I saw [Mr. and Mrs. Coates]—was glad to see them: both of them are so good, cordial, sincere—she particularly. It does my old eyes good to look at such a woman...[215]

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