Sunday, April 16, 2017

Poems of Easter

Easter, 2016
Grave of Florence Earle Coates
Church of the Redeemer
Bryn Mawr, PA

THEY TOLD ME

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.

REJECTED

THE World denies her prophets with rash breath,
     Makes rich her slaves, her flatterers adorns;
To Wisdom's lips she presses drowsy death,
     And on the brow Divine a crown of thorns.
Yet blessèd, though neglected and despised—
     Who for the World himself hath sacrificed,
Who hears unmoved her witless mockery,
     While to his spirit, slighted and misprised,
Whisper the voices of Eternity!
"Rejected" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (April 1887), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


THE LARK

THERE is a legend somewhere told
Of how the skylark came of old
        To the dying Saviour's cross,
And circling round that form of pain
Poured forth a wild, lamenting strain,
        As if for human loss.

Pierced by those accents of despair,
Upon the tiny mourner there
        Turning his fading eyes,
The Saviour said, "Dost thou so mourn,
And is thy fragile breast so torn,
        That man, thy brother, dies?

"O'er all the world uplifted high,
We are alone here, thou and I;
        And near to heaven and thee
I bless thy pity-guided wings!
I bless thy voice—the last that sings
        Love's requiem for me!

"Sorrow no more shall fill thy song;
These frail and fluttering wings grown strong,
        Thou shalt no longer fly
Earth's captive—nay, but boldly dare
The azure vault, and upward bear
        Thy transports to the sky!"

Soon passed the Saviour; but the lark,
Close hovering near Him in the dark,
        Could not his grief abate;
And nigh the watchers at the tomb,
Still mourned through days of grief and gloom,
        With note disconsolate.

But when to those sad mourners came,
In rose and amethyst and flame,
        The Dawn Miraculous,
Song in which sorrow had no part
Burst from the lark's triumphant heart—
        Sweet and tumultuous!

An instant, as with rapture blind,
He faltered; then, his Lord to find,
        Straight to the ether flew,—
Rising where falls no human tear,
Singing where still his song we hear
        Piercing the upper blue!
"The Lark" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

EASTER

I KNOW the Summer fell asleep
     Long weary months ago;
Heaped high above her grave I saw
     The heavy winter snow;
Say, sparrow, then, what word you bring;
     Is it her requiem you sing?

The meadowlark is mute, the wren
     Forgets his late abode,
No throstle answering fluteth near,
     Yet never prelude flowed
From ivied bosk or verdant slope
     More brimming with delight and hope!

I, listening, seem to see the blooms
     That were whilom so dear,
And voices loved and silent long
     I, listening, seem to hear;
And longings in my breast confer,
     And sweet, prophetic pulses stir.

"Thou lonely one," they seem to say,
     "Lost Summer shall return;
Wreathed in her shadowy tresses shall
     The roses blissful burn;
Wan lilies at her feet shall lie,
     And wind-flowers on her bosom sigh.

"Here, from this rough and lowly bed,
     The little celandine
Shall lift her sunny glances to
     The balmy eglantine;
And flags shall flaunt by yonder lake,
     And fair Narcissus there awake."

I know the Summer fell asleep
     Long weary months ago;
But ah! all is not lost, poor heart,
     That's laid beneath the snow;
There wait, grown cold to care and strife,
     Things costliest, dying into life.

All changes, but Life ceases not
     With the suspended breath;
There is no bourne to Being, and
     No permanence in Death;
Time flows to an eternal sea,
     Space widens to Infinity!
"Easter" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

AT EASTER

HE saw the myriad blooming plants
     That mark the hallowed morn;
He thought upon a lowly mound
     In a far land, forlorn,

Where yearning love would never come
     To place or flower or leaf,
Where lonely love would never bring
     Its heartache for relief.

When, lo! athwart his musings, came
     Again that strange appeal
Which he had listened to before,—
     Without the power to feel;

And putting by a vain regret,—
     His fallen foe to save,—
"Ah, love!" he sighed, "lost love!—I lay
     This blossom on thy grave!"
"At Easter" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).

ÉASTRE

          I WHO am ever young,
          Am she whom Earth hath sung
From the far ages when from death awaking
She felt the dawn of life within her breaking—
A strange and inexperienced delight—
That warned the desert places of her night,
          And, after bondage long,
             Left her divinely free
             To worship with an ecstasy,
          Voiceless, that yet was song!

          I am that she, Astarte named,
By proud Phœnicia and Assyria claimed,
Adored by Babylon and Naucratis.
          From the moon, my throne of bliss,
          On famed Hieropolis
Where stood my temple sanctified and hoary,
I poured such floods of silver glory
That mortals—blest my ''palest'' beams to see—
Fell prone upon the earth and worshiped me!

I am Aurora—goddess of the dawn!
To heaven in my orient car updrawn,
          While wingèd joys fly after,
I part with roseate hand the curtained dark.
          Mid bird-songs and celestial laughter,
I perfume all the æther with my breath,
And putting by the envious clouds of Death,
          With my insistent yearning
Rekindle the sun's fire and set it burning.

          Persephone am I—the Spring!
Whom all things celebrate and sing.
          When glad from Hades' sombre home
          Back to the dear, dear earth I come,
The gods themselves, my way befriending,
          Look down on me with shining eyes benign,
And grant that, to my mother's arms ascending,
          Of miracles the loveliest shall be mine.

          Howe'er men speak my name
          I ever am the same,—
In herb and tree and vine and blossoming flower,
Regenerating, consecrating power.
          Youth am I and delight.
Astarte or Aurora, still the priest
Of mysteries beneficently bright.
The vivifying glory of the East,
The Spring, in vesture of transparent dyes
'Broidered with blossoms and with butterflies,
The door that leads from gloomy vasts of Death,—
I resurrection am!—new life! new breath!
"Éastre" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


Signed and inscribed Easter greeting
from Florence Earle Coates
found within the pages of
a volume of The Unconquered Air (1912)

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