Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BY THE CONEMAUGH, a poem

Johnstown Flood
May 31, 1889
FOREBODING sudden of untoward change,
     A tight'ning clasp on everything held dear,
A moan of waters wild and strange,
     A whelming horror near;
And midst the thund’rous din a voice of doom,—
"Make way for me, O Life, for Death make room!
"I come like the whirlwind rude,
     'Gainst all thou hast cherished warring;
I come like the flaming flood
     From a crater's mouth outpouring;
I come like the avalanche gliding free—
And the Power that sent thee forth, sends me!
"Where thou hast builded with strength secure
     My hand shall spread disaster;
Where thou hast barr'd me, with forethought sure,
     Shall ruin flow the faster;
I come to gather where thou hast sowed,—
But I claim of thee nothing thou hast not owed!
"O Life, from the fire-swept mould
     Arise new forms of beauty;
Out of the waters cold
     Diviner thoughts of duty;
The sunlight gleams where hath swept the tide,
And flowers blossom as flames subside!
"On my mission of mercy forth I go
     Where the Lord of Being sends me;
His will is the only will I know,
     And my strength is the strength He lends me;
Thy loved ones I hide 'neath my waters dim,—
But I cannot take them away from Him!"

"By the Conemaugh" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The American (22 June 1889)—as rendered above—and in Poems (1898). The fourth stanza is omitted from the 1898 and subsequent versions.

Monday, May 30, 2016

ODE TO SILENCE, a poem

O THOU, sublime, who on the throne
Of eyeless Night sat, awful and alone,
     Before the birth of Cronos—brooding deep
     Upon the voiceless waters which asleep
Held all things circled in their gelid zone:
O Silence! how approach thy shrine
     Nor falter in the listening void to raise
     A mortal voice in praise,
Nor wrong with words such eloquence as thine?

Amid the fragrant forest hush,
The nightingale or solitary-thrush
May, on thy quiet breaking, give no wound;
     For they such beauty bring as all redeems,
     Nor fear to interrupt thy dreams
Or trouble thy Nirvana with a sound!

And though more fitting worship seem the breath
     Of violets in the sequestered wood,
The zephyr that low whispereth
     To the heart of Solitude,
The first unfolding of the bashful rose
That noiseless by the wayside buds and blows:

More fitting worship the far drift of clouds
     O'er azure floating with a swan-like motion,
The Siren-lays faint heard amid the shrouds,
     The voiceless swell of the unfathomed ocean,
The silver Dian pours on the calm stream
Where pale the lotus-blossoms lie adream,—

Yet, mother of all high imaginings,
     In whom is neither barrenness nor dearth,
Wise guardian of the sacred springs
     Whose fresh primordial waters heal the earth,—
O soul of muted fire,
Of whom is born the passionate desire
     That gives to beauty birth,—

All music that hath been, howe'er divine,
All possibilities of sound are thine!
     The syrinx-reed, the flute Apollo owns,
     Symphonic chords, and lyric overtones,
First draw their inspiration at thy shrine.
     There come heart-broken mortal things;
     There once again they find their wings;
There garner dreams benign,—
O nurse of genius! unto whom belong
Beethoven's harmonies and Homer's deathless song!
"Ode to Silence" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

REVEILLE, a poem

WHAT frolic zephyr through the young leaves plays,
     Scattering fragrance delicate and sweet?
     What impulse new moves Robin to repeat
     To pale Anemone his roundelays?
What winning wonder fills the world with praise
     In this mysterious time? Lo, all things greet
     A loved one, new redeemed from death's defeat—
     A youth whose languid head fair nymphs upraise!

For him the crocus dons his bravery,—
     And violets for him their censers swing;
     For him the shy arbutus, blushfully,
Peeps through the mosses that about her cling;
     Adonis wakes! Awake, earth's minstrelsy!
     In swelling diapason hymn the Spring!
"Reveille" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

On this day in 1900

Daughter Alice marries John Ellingwood Trask at 4:30pm in St. Luke's Church in Germantown.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

WATER LILIES, a poem

I GATHERED them—the lilies pure and pale,
     The golden-hearted lilies, virgin fair,
     And in a vase of crystal, placed them where
Their perfumes might unceasingly exhale.
High in my lonely tent above the swale,
     Above the shimmering mere and blossoms there,
     I solaced with their sweetness my despair,
And fed with dews their beauteous petals frail.

But when the aspens felt the evening breeze,
     And shadows 'gan across the lake to creep,
When hermit-thrushes to the Oreades
     Sang vesper orisons, from cloisters deep,—
My lilies, lulled by native sympathies,
     Upfolded their white leaves and fell asleep.
"Water Lilies" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, May 27, 2016

THE "UNFINISHED" SYMPHONY, a poem

To Carl Pohlig

The inspired Leader of the Philadelphia Orchestra, on listening to the great Schubert.

O MUSIC of divine imagining!
     Does he not hear you in his dreams to-night?
Can you no wonder to his spirit bring—
     And no delight?

His love created you; his hopes, his fears,
     Are poignant in these tones, surmounting death—
These melodies that dim the eyes with tears,
     And snatch the breath! . . .

And can he longer sleep, nor note this strain
     Whose magic enters now, with lovelier art
That like a benediction thrills the brain
     And fills the heart?

Ah, not to one shall all earth's joys belong!
     So have the gods ordained, whom we obey,
Lest mortal men should deem themselves as strong,
     As blest as they.

On Schubert, out of love, the ecstasy
     That wrote this godlike music they conferred:
To us they gave to hear the symphony
     He never heard.

"The 'Unfinished' Symphony" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (May 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

THE MOURNER, a poem

"'TIS over—all over!" the mourner said.
"My love, in the grave of my love, lies dead:
Barren of bloom as yon wintry tree,
Lifeless and chill, is the heart of me!
"I shall smile no more: a tale that is told
Is the rapture of being.  Now would I were old,
Who wearying years would no longer see
Stretching away unendingly!
"What value has Time?  The last to-morrow
For me will hold but the one, one sorrow
Which, lone, I still shall endure, forlorn
As the bird that, above me, its mate doth mourn."
·            ·            ·            ·            ·            ·
Full wearily wasted the months; and still
Guarding his grief with a constant will,
It chanced that the mourner, one halcyon day,
Wandering sadly the self-same way,
Beheld, half doubting, the wintry tree
A bower of blossom—a thing to see!—
And heard with emotion the sad bird sing:—
"O beauty! O love! O delight!—It is Spring!"
"The Mourner" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (May 1914).

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

THE IDEAL, a poem

"Not the treasures is it that have awakened in me so-unspeakable a desire, but the Blue Flower is what I long to behold."—Novalis.
SOMETHING I may not win attracts me ever,—
     Something elusive, yet supremely fair,
Thrills me with gladness, but contents me never,
     Fills me with sadness, yet forbids despair.

It blossoms just beyond the paths I follow,
     It shines beyond the farthest stars I see,
It echoes faint from ocean caverns hollow,
     And from the land of dreams it beckons me.

It calls, and all my best, with joyful feeling,
     Essays to reach it as I make reply;
I feel its sweetness o'er my spirit stealing,
     Yet know ere I attain it I must die!
"The Ideal" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (May 1891), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

30th Anniversary of the P.M.T.A.

From the August 1921 issue of The Etude

On 24 May 1921, Mrs. Coates attended the thirtieth anniversary of the formation of the Philadelphia Music Teacher's Association. Making the first address, Coates read her poem "Dream the Great Dream." The anniversary banquet was held in Philadelphia at the ballroom of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Her address is as follows:

"Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I can but feel it an especial privilege to be here this evening with all these many honored representatives of the universal art, the art which requires no translator—best beloved by men—the art which most closely unites men of alien lands and interests. In thinking of this art to which all the early years of my life were devoted, an art which I have always greatly loved, many thoughts crowd upon the mind. But with so many distinguished speakers present, I feel that I can say nothing so eloquent as the silence which will give us an opportunity to listen to them; so with this word and one more, I shall take my place again.
DREAM THE GREAT DREAM
Dream the Great Dream, though you should dream—you, only,
     And friendless follow in the lofty quest.
Though the dream lead you to a desert lonely,
     Or drive you, like the tempest, without rest,
Yet, toiling upward to the highest altar,
     There lay before the gods your gift supreme,—
A human heart whose courage did not falter
     Though distant as Arcturus shone the Gleam.
The Gleam?—Ah, question not if others see it,
     Who nor the yearning nor the passion share;
Grieve not if children of the earth decree it—
     The earth, itself,—their goddess, only fair!
The soul has need of prophet and redeemer:
     Her outstretched wings against her prisoning bars,
She waits for truth; and truth is with the dreamer,—
     Persistent as the myriad light of stars!"

"Dream the Great Dream" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Pathfinder (June 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

THOUGH THOU HAST CLIMBED, a poem

THOUGH thou hast climbed, by patient effort slow,
     O'er barriers that thy course denied,
And from proud summits gazest down below—
               Self-satisfied;

Though thou hast felt the clouds beneath thy feet,
     And to past triumphs fond returning,
Wakest no more, sublimer heights to greet
               With upward yearning,—

Better for thee hadst thou been taught to bow,
     Through lengthening years of blest probation,
Looking to something loftier than thou,
               In adoration:

Better for thee had thine unconquered will,
     So scornful of restraining bars—
Been held earth's captive thrall, thy strivings still
               Unto the Stars!
"Though thou hast climbed" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, May 23, 2016

AN IDLER, a poem

SHE cannot wind the distaff,
     She can nor bake nor brew;
Her hands are indeed too dainty
     Such labors to pursue.

She cares not to follow the harvest,
     She neither can sew nor glean,
But waits for the weary reapers
     With cheerful calm serene.

Commanding all to serve her,
     From service she is free;
But, ah, my babe so helpless
     Is health and wealth to me!
"An Idler" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Weekly (23 May 1891), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

THE FROGS, a poem

A CONCERT IN THE MARSH

THE perfect eloquence of silence; then,
     Amid the softened afterglow,
From each bay-bordered island fen
     On either hand, distinct but low—
     Was it the twang of strings?...
     O'erhead there is a whirr of homing wings,
And silence falls again.

But now—ah, timely,—the choragus! Hark!
     Leader of choric minstrels grim,
Grave his solemnity: and mark
     What eerie voices follow him
     As strophe and antistrophe
     Swell to the roar of a far-sounding sea,
Out of the marshy dark!

Can these, indeed, be voices, that so greet
     The twilight still? I seem to hear
Oboe and cymbal in a rhythmic beat
     With bass-drum and bassoon; their drear
     And droll crescendo louder growing,
     Then falling back, like waters ebbing, flowing,—
Back to the silence sweet!
"The Frogs" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

MAN, THAT WILL NOT BE BEGUILED, a poem

MAN, that will not be beguiled
Like a fond and happy child
     From his toil or futile strife,
Feels within his bosom burning
All the deep, impassioned yearning
     Woven in the woof of life.

And though far, with weary feet,
He may wander, Man shall meet
     No content until he come—
Soon or late, his fate compelling—
To Love's domed and star-lit dwelling,
     For he has no other home.
"Man, that will not be beguiled" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (21 May 1904) and Mine and Thine (1904) as "Unrest", and in Poems (1916) Volume I.

OLD ST. DAVID'S, a poem

St. David's Episcopal Church, Radnor, PA ca. 1907

"What an image of peace and rest."—Longfellow

IN Radnor Valley, from the world apart,
     The little Church stands peaceful as of old,
     Guarding her memories yet half untold,
Deep in the silent places of her heart.

Life comes, and passes by her, as it wills;
     But musing on loved things evanishèd,
     She keeps the generations of the dead,—
Herself unchanged amid her beauteous hills:

Unchanged, though full of change her days have been,
     Since builded here, ere Washington was born,
     She seemed the home of exiled hearts forlorn—
The open portal to hope's fair demesne.

Close as the ivy that adorns her walls,
     So grateful thoughts have twined themselves and clung
     About this lowly sanctuary, sprung
From that necessity which ever calls

The soul of man to seek for something higher—
     Anhungered for a more celestial bread
     Than that wherewith his earthly life is fed—
And faith was kindled here, and patriot fire!

Yea; from this sacred pile, in days gone by,
     Brave men, to duty nobly dedicate,
     Went forth to strive against despotic fate—
Content for liberty to live—or die.

Some came not back; but some returned, victorious,—
     Needing nor badge nor ribbon on the breast,—
     To find here by the little Church their rest:
Heroes and martyrs lowly—yet how glorious! . . .

Healed of all hurt, emparadised afar
     Though they abide, yet to our reverent sight,
     About their graves there lingers still a light
Which is not as the light of moon or star;

And very peaceful after stormy days,
     And sturdy as the antique oaks remain,
     Which sentinelled the burial of Wayne,—
Illustrious beyond the need of praise,—

Old Radnor Church bestows her benison,
     Calling to us who from the past yet borrow,
     To love the right and, living for the morrow,
Fulfil the hopes of heroes that are gone.

So, through whate'er of change the future brings,
     Shall she our memories and faiths defend,—
     A temple of the highest to the end,
Immortal through the love of deathless things!
Written by request of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America and read at Old St. David's, May 21, 1904.

"Old St. David's" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, May 20, 2016

THE CHRYSANTHEMUM, a poem

A ROSE-TREE, all ablush with opening flowers,
     Just nodded to the heliotrope and pink,
     Greeted the lilies by the fountain's brink
     And curtseyed toward the jasmine's star-wreathed bowers.
She then perceived a plant which, in the hours
     Since May-time blossoms blew and bobolink
     Sang blithely, constant grew, yet seemed to drink
     No beauty from spring sun or summer showers.
Scornful, she tossed her head, but soothingly
     Dame Nature to the plant dishonored said: "Time conquereth
     The proud.  Yon rose her petaled pomps shall see
Torn rudely by the Frost-King's icy breath,
     When life luxuriant shall throb in thee,
     And blossom in the very midst of death!"
"The Chrysanthemem" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898).

Thursday, May 19, 2016

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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

HYLAS, a poem

     UNTO the woodland spring he came
     For water welling fresh and sweet;
     An eager purpose winged his feet
     And set his heart aflame.
     But musing on Alcmene's son—
     Reviewing, emulous, each prize
     By the godlike hero won,
     A-sudden, with surprise,
     He heard soft voices call upon his name:

     "Hylas, Hylas, stay and listen!
Though but a moment, bright dreamer, delay!
          Pleasure greets thee,
          Youth entreats thee,—
From their enchantments, ah, turn not away!
     Where the eddies dimpling glisten,
     To the love-lorn naiads listen!

     "Let not carping care destroy
     Life's jocund prime with counsels cold!—
     From happy youth the gods withhold
     The sordid gifts that they employ
          To plague the old.
     Let not fruitless toil destroy
     Days fresh as blossoms newly sprung!
     Ere sages spoke, ere poets sung,
     Youth was the gala-time of joy,—
          And thou art young!

     "Glory?—ah, 't is labor double!
     Wealth?—alas! 't is costly trouble!
     Foolish Hylas! Wouldst thou follow
     Glistering shows and phantoms hollow,
     Vague intents and dreams ideal?
     Here are pleasures sweet as real:
          Still delights
          Of summer nights,
     Rest—which e'en ambition misses—
          Soft repose
          On beds of rose
     In murmurous grots, and waking blisses.
     Hither comes no word of duty;
     Life is love, and love is beauty.
     Hither comes no note of strife;
     Life is love, and love is life.
     Raptures bubbling to the brink,
     Would not a wise man stoop and drink?

     "Though Heracles sit in his tent
     And boast to warlike Telamon
     Of monsters tamed and labors done;
     Though he recount in lofty strain
     How dread Nemea's plague was slain,
     And loudly vaunt, grown eloquent,
     The rattling heaven-descended spell,
     And Cerberus upborne from Hell,—
     Yet, even as he tells the story,
     And boasts a world-renownèd glory,
     Telamon applauding—then,
     Ay, even then, let him recall
     Shy Megara's face—he'd give it all,
     All, Hylas, to be young again!"

     The wondering boy beheld the gleam
     Of tresses mirrored in the spring:
     Naught else; yet soft as in a dream,
     Those voices sweetly ravishing
     Fell on his ear.
     He bent more near,
     Trembling, amazed,
     And wistful gazed—
     Grown eager more to hear—
     Far down below the cool reflection
     And wavy sheen of auburn hair.
     But, Eros blest!—what marvel rare,
     What more than mortal beauty there,
     What coy, what wooing-sweet perfection
     Entrancèd held him, bound as in a snare?

     No need to urge him now to stay! . . .
     Alas! he could not turn away,
     But on the Naiad's nearing charms
     Gazed amorous:—on locks of brown,
     On melting eyes, and rubied lips,
     Slim throats and dewy finger-tips.
     He stooped; they caught him in their arms,
     And held him fast, and drew him down.

          Down, down, down, down,
     Through the liquid deeps of the soundless well:
          Down, down, down, down,—
     How many fathom, ah! who can tell?
     Away from the day and the starlit hours,
     Away from the shadows, the birds, and the flowers;
     Away from the fell and the spicy dell,
     From the fountain's smile and the mountain's frown;
          Down, down, down, down!
     He tried to ascend, but the lithe arms enwound him;
     He sought to escape, but the wily weeds bound him.
     By pleasure's softening touches thrill'd—
     The dainty marvels at his side—
     He missed not tasks left unfulfill'd,
     Nor heard despisèd honor chide;
     And sinking slowly to the watery goal,
     His visage shrank to match his ebbing soul.
     ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·
     Late in the purple twilight of the day
     Alcides came with heavy tread that way,
     Crushing the fragile reeds and shrinking ferns,
     Searching now here, now there—by doubtful turns—
     And calling loudly on the boy,
               His dear annoy.
     Long, long he stayed, still hoping to rejoice,
     While babbling Echo, with her far-off voice,
     Railed at his care. Then, sad and slow, he passed—
     Reluctant to resign the quest at last,
     Nor dreamed, beholding a poor frog emerge
     From that enchanted fountain's plashy verge,
     That Hylas, once so ready to aspire,
     There harshly croaked, contented in the mire!
"Hylas" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

FAIRER THAN VIOLETS ARE, a poem

FAIRER than violets are
     That blossom in the virgin Spring,
More sweet than the song of birds
     When first of love they sing,
A gift of pure and perfect worth,
She came to this our darkened earth
     A smile of God to bring:

She came that we might lay
     Our griefs, submissive, 'neath the sod;
She came that light might beam
     From every path she trod;
She came that memory might confer
Blessing and hope, for, knowing her,
     We know the love of God.
"Fairer Than Violets Are" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

Monday, May 16, 2016

CONSCIENCE, a poem

THE friend I loved betrayed my trust
And bowed my spirit to the dust.
I keep the hurt he gave, yet know
He was forgiven long ago.

From him I did not merit ill,
But I would bear injustice still,
Content, could years of guiltless woe
Undo the wrong I did my foe.
"Conscience" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (May 1894), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

THE SONG THAT IS FORGOT, a poem

TIME, like to sand from out the glass, unceasing flows away;
Then wherefore deem to-morrow more worth than yesterday?
The fairest rose the future knows Time darkling will entomb
With the rose that breathed in Persia, long since, its rare perfume.

If sands of time, effacing, flow, then what—ah, what of fame?
Nothing is lost that blesses the hour to which it came;
Nay, questioning heart, which gave it most the world itself knows not—
The song that is remembered, the song that is forgot.
"The Song that is forgot" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (May 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

PHILISTIA, a poem

SHE waits for man, and leads him artfully—
     In seeming freedom that beguiles his will—
     Unto the great wheels grinding in her mill;
And with a voice of suasive melody,
Entreats him: "Lo! all gifts I proffer thee—
     All joys that adolescent hopes fulfill,
     All riches that the old may covet still—
So thou wilt bow thee down and worship me!"

But list'ning her, the spirit that would live
     Must hear, from far, a nobler message sent:
          Distrustful most where most she seeks to please,
          Unsoftened by her luxury and ease,
     Must hope through higher things to find content,—
Toiling for triumphs which she cannot give!
"Philistia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (May 1900) and Mine and Thine (1904).

Friday, May 13, 2016

HONOR, a poem

DIVINE abstraction, shadowy image, dream
     More vital than substantial shapes made strong
     By all the tireless energies of wrong,—
Who should deny thy being would blaspheme
The power that made thy loveliness supreme,
     Lending thee accents of auroral song
     To comfort those who unto thee belong,
Though they go down to dark Cocytus' stream.

Patient as Time art thou, eternal one!
     Yet who may change thy judgments—or destroy?
The conqueror whom wily Egypt won
Found with life's honeyed draught a bitter blent;
     And Hector, fallen by the walls of Troy,
Looked up, and saw thy face, and was content.
"Honor" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Smart Set (May 1908), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

MASEFIELD, a poem

On re-reading Gallipoli and the Sonnets

I thought on England in her tragic hour
     Of sacrifice supreme for human right;
     Beheld her bleeding, broken in the fight
With a massed tyranny's stupendous power;
And musing on far graves where lie her flower
     Of manhood, memory so dimmed my sight
     That I forgot the dawn that crowned her night—
The victory that was her valor's dower.

Then, even as I grieved, I saw once more
     How genius can atone and re-create:
How, by its own high gift, it can restore
     The Land that gives it birth to sovereign State,
Rekindling glories that it knew before,
     And deepening its life to life as great!
"Masefield" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The North American Review (May 1922).

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

THE CHILD AND THE HEART BEREFT, a poem

MY garden, long time desolate,
     Were still of pleasure reft and bare
But for one single, lonely bloom
     That would insist on flowering there.

A fragile thing, in that chill place
     It grew where other joys were not,
Waxing a lovelier hope each day,—
     Albeit half tended, half forgot,—

Until with wild, resistless charm
     That sorrow's very self doth cheat,
It maketh of my desert drear
     A sunlit garden, fresh and sweet.
"The Child and the Heart Bereft" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

AMOR CREATOR, a poem

LOVE is enough: were all we fondly cherish
     To pass as visions melt at dawn of day,
Were bud and blossom, fruit and leaf, to perish,
     Love could rebuild them in his perfect way;
For he who makes the tides to ebb and flow,
Each secret of creation well doth know.

His warmth illumes the glow-worm's fickle spark,
     And beams in Aldebaran's steadfast fire:
With him there is no winter and no dark;
     The font, the burning font, of pure desire,
All forms of beauty unto him belong,—
The rose, the avalanche, the wild bird's song.

On Latmos' height pale Dian dreams about him,
     His voice low echoes in the ocean shell,
The bee could fill no honey-cup without him,
     The violet no fragrant secret tell:
Remote yet near, changeful yet still the same,
Love is creation's breath and vital flame!
"Amor Creator" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (May 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, May 9, 2016

LULLABY, a poem

DAY is stealing down the West,
     Tender, drowsy sounds are heard;
     Closer now each downy bird
Creeps 'neath mother-wings to rest.
In the fading sky afar,
     Kindled by some angel hand,
Twinkling comes a tiny star,—
     Baby's guide to Sleepy-Land.

Cooler, darker grows the air,
     Eerie shadows haunt the room;
In the garden, through the gloom,
     'Wildering bats and owlets fare;
But the lambs and birdies seem
     Happy now at home to keep,
And a darling little dream
     Smiles at baby in his sleep.
"Lullaby" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (May 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

MOTHER

Florence Earle Coates' mother descended from a family long members of the Society of Friends.


Ellen Frances Van Leer Earle (1830-1892)
Original photo courtesy of Florence Earle Morrisey

MOTHER

AT twilight here I sit alone,
     Yet not alone; for thoughts of thee,—
Pale images of pleasure flown,—
     Like homing birds, once more return to me.

Again the shining chestnut braids
     Are soft enwreathed about thy brow,
And light—a light that never fades—
     Beams from thine eyes upon me even now,

As, all undimmed by death and night,
     Remembrance out of distance brings
Thy youthful loveliness, alight
     With ardent hope and high imaginings.

Ah, mortal dreams, how fair, how fleet!
     Thy yearnings scant fulfilment found;
Dark Lethe long hath laved thy feet
     And on thy slumber breaks no troubling sound;

Yet distance parts thee not from me,
     For beauty—or of twilight or of morn—
Binds me, still closer binds, to thee,
     Whose heart sang to my heart ere I was born.
"Mother" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (August 1908), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


MOTHER-LOVE

THINK not of love as of a debt—
     Due or in May or in December!
Nay, rather, for a time, forget.
     Life always helps us to remember!

A child whom harmless toys beguile
     To loiter for a little while,
Put heart into your play, and then,
     When you are tired—come home again!

Fair, yet how fragile, pleasure's rose!—
     How vain the toil to make it stronger!
It blooms—it withers,—but love knows
     A sweeter blossom that lives longer!
"Mother-Love" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Cosmopolitan (December 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


THE ALL-MOTHER

IN the arid and desolate places of life
     She opens fresh fountains of feeling;
She comforts the spirit o'erwearied with strife;
     For the hurt of the heart she has healing.

She looks on our sorrows with calm that is kind,
     (What recks she of failure or illness?)
And gives, with a smile, to the care-burdened mind
     The relief of her beauty and stillness.

She sings mid the tempest, she wings the storm's flight,
     (There's nothing can life from Life sever!)
To guide the lost wanderer safe through the night,
     She keeps a lamp burning forever.
"The All-Mother" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1914) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


Original photo courtesy of Florence Earle Morrisey
Keywords: Mother's Day

Saturday, May 7, 2016

IN THE OFFING, a poem

THE Ship of the Spring in the offing at last!
     Oh, rude blew the hindering gales,
But perfumes entrancing, the danger o'erpast,
     Are wafted afar, from her sails!

The bearer of treasure more fragrant than myrrh—
     More precious than jewels of Inde,
The stars in their courses keep watch over her,
     The gods for her temper the wind.

She comes as a maid whom life's vision elates,
     Out-spreading her draperies white;
She comes as a bride whom a lover awaits
     With proud and impatient delight.

A queen, as she glides to the goal of her dreams
     With movement majestic and slow,
So still is her beauty, half-conscious she seems,—
     But the heart in her breast is aglow;

For she hears the far murmur of myriad things
     That shall at her coming have birth.
O sails in the offing! ye are as the wings
     Of angels that bring her to Earth!
"In the Offing" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Minaret (May 1917).

Friday, May 6, 2016

BROOK SONG: TO THE SPRING, a poem

O BEAUTY! vision of forgotten gladness!
     Fulfillment of a dream that ne'er betrays!
O miracle of hope, and balm of sadness!
     Creative ecstasy and fount of praise!

     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·

I lay upon the ground and gave no token,
     I hid my face mid sodden leaves and sere,
My languid pulses chill, my spirit broken,—
     I knew not, O divine one! you were near;

For snows and frosts of winter, new-departed,
     Still held my will in thrall and weighed me down;
And I forgot—forlorn and heavy-hearted—
     Your promise, goddess of the violet crown!

But soft as music in remembrance sighing,
     You fanned me with your wooing breath, and I
Who shed no tears when lone I seemed and dying
     Wept at your touch, and knew I should not die.

Now by my banks are tender blossoms blowing:
     In fragrant loveliness they smile on me,—
But I must hasten to the river, knowing
     The river will lead onward to the sea.

High over me the budding branches quiver
     With songs that swell in happy harmony;
But sweeter is the murmur of the river,—
     The river that leads onward to the sea!
"Brook Song: To the Spring" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (6 May 1899), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

SHE WILL NOT HEAR, a poem

SHE will not hear you if you sing,
Bluebird and whitethroat of the Spring!
Why did you stay away so long,
She wearying for your song?

She will not notice if you pass,
Sweet airs that woo the meadow grass!
Why could you not have spread, more fleet,
Soft carpet for her feet?

She will not see the crocus rise,
Nor smile into the violet's eyes;
Pale dogwood bloom from Winter snow
My darling will not know.

You come too late! too late, too late,
O longed-for Spring! She tried to wait,
Wistful your breathing joys to share.
Come now,—she will not care!
"She will not hear" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (5 May 1915) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

TO POVERTY, a poem

PALE  priestess of a fane discredited,
     Whose votaries to-day are few or none;
     Goddess austere, whose touch the vulgar shun,
As they would shrink from a Procrustes bed,
Hieing to temples where the feast is spread,
     And life laughs loudly, and the smooth wines run;
     Wise mother!—least desired 'neath the sun,
At thy chill breasts the noblest have been fed.

Great are thy counsels for the brave and strong;
     Yet do we fear thy brooding mystery,
The griefs, the hardships, which about thee throng,
     The scanty garners where thy harvests be;
But seeing what unto the rich belong,
     We know our debt, O Poverty, to thee!
"To Poverty" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (May 1902), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

EVERY HEART, a poem

WHEN wintry wells are water-filled,
And killing Death itself is killed,
Then wingèd things begin to build;
And maids and men with happy birds do sing,
For every heart's a lover in the spring!

When brooklets ripple into song,
And strivings faint of life grow strong,
Then all things 'gin to dream and long;
And maids and men with wistful birds do sing,
For every heart's a poet in the spring!
"Every Heart" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, May 2, 2016

RHAPSODY, a poem

AS the mother-bird to the waiting nest
     As the regnant moon to the sea,
As joy to the heart that hath first been blest—
     So is my love to me!

Sweet as the song of the lark that soars
     From the net of the fowler free,
Sweet as the morning that song adores—
     So is my love to me!

As the rose that blossoms in matchless grace
     Where the canker may not be,
As the well that springs in a desert place—
     So is my love to me!
"Rhapsody" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

"The Tragic Muse" (1912) by Violet Oakley

Violet Oakley was awarded the Medal of Honor in the painting category at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915 for this portrait of Mrs. Coates as "The Tragic Muse."

Mrs. Edward H. Coates as "The Tragic Muse" (1912)
Image courtesy of and copyright © by pafa.org




Violet Oakley (American 1874-1961) 
Tragic Muse (Mrs. Edward H. Coates, 1850-1927) 
Oil on canvas, 29 15/16 x 24 15/16 in. (76.0 x 63.3 cm.) 
Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA 
Gift of Mrs. Edward H. Coates (The Edward H. Coates Memorial Collection), 1923.9.4

Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Pour Prendre Conge" and UNBIDDEN, a poem

Calling card of Florence Earle Coates

On 1 May 1899, Mrs. Coates inscribes a copy of Poems (1898) to Mrs. G. Oram Ring (Elizabeth Clendenning Ring), to include two lines from her poem "India." Also within the volume is a calling card, likely left in parting from a gathering at the Ring's home. Mrs. Coates states that "Unbidden [posted below] is far too long to write in your book, but I shall hope to send it to you some day. Lovingly, F.E.C." The poem would later be published in Coates' 1904 book of verse, Mine and Thine, spanning seven pages. At the time, the Coates' lived at 5321 Baynton (formerly Hancock) Street in Germantown, PA. Around 1908, they moved into the city residing at 2024 Spruce Street.

Image courtesy of Florence Earle Morrisey
Elizabeth Clendenning Ring would write a biographical piece about Mrs. Coates entitled "Florence Earle Coates: Some Phases of Her Life and Poetry." It was published in the December 1917 issue of Book News Monthly.

UNBIDDEN

AS shakes the breast of giant Kaf
     When Allah's thunders near resound,
So nations quail before my wrath,
And shudder at its sound.

     The broad Euphrates bears my name
To Oman's waves triumphantly;
The lordly Indus sings my fame
To the wondering Indian sea.

     For me Khorasan tempers steel,
The Turkoman rears matchless steeds;
Azerbijan grows me her wine,
And luscious fruit for summer needs;
My peacock throne burns like a gem,
And stars blaze in my diadem.

     The mighty vie to honor me:
Kings at my table humbly sit,
And tributary satraps fret
When banished over-long from it.

     What then have I to do with thoughts
That blanch the cheek and chill the blood?
Some wretched slave may quake and start,
Who hast'ning through Ghilan's lone wood,
Hears ravening jackals distant howl,—
But I?  Nay, who doth not revere
The brazen doors my guards defend?
Who dares, unsummoned, enter here?

     Shall baseless terrors mock my peace,
And chide desired Sleep away?
Forbidding her to close mine eyes,
Tormenting me when I would pray?
The years are long; yet time hath sped,
And Earth forgets what once she knew,
For hidden far beneath her view,
The grasses wave above my dread.

     The guests attend me. Wake, my will!
Put off this garb of sullen gloom!
The dead may neither wound nor blight;
And vengeance slumbers in the tomb.
Be thou but firm, and all's secure:
Match well thy purpose to the hour,
Nor babble what is voiceless still,—
Not Eblis shall abase thy power!

     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·

     Heard you a knocking then, my lords?
No?—and the wind, you think, sounds so?
To me 't was as a stroke of doom,
Reverberate from some long ago.

     Well, since 't was nothing, speed the cheer!
Nor sit like phantoms dull and mute,
For something which ye did not hear.

     Ye thought me weary?  So: and then?
Am I not mortal like the rest?
May I not falter in my mirth,
Nor palsy every guest? . . .

     That knocking!—Ah! you note it now.
It vexed me men should disallow
A sound more dread than frenzy's shriek,—
And prate of a wind-blown bough!

     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·

     Thine errand, sirrah!  Who's without
That may not be denied?
A stranger? And thou darest bring
His hests unbidden before thy king?

     A stranger? Though his need be stout,
And stubborn as his pride,
Is 't here that he should seek our face?
Command him to the appointed place,
And those who should provide!

     Ha! answerest thou? Not be denied?—
Grows life so worthless then?—
Go drive him hence, thou tiresome knave!
. . . Friends, to our feast again!
     This imbecile hath broke the cheer;
But day is distant yet,
And ere her joyless flags appear,
We'll pay mad pleasure's debt.

     Drink to all revels—foes to thought!
Drink, drink to poppy-trances deep!
And since from some sleep holds aloof,
To oblivion drink!—the dreamless sleep.

     Again that sound affronts the air!
Ill-omened wretch, proclaim thy care—
My soul thy pallor hates!
What hounds thee back?  Whence, whence this din?
The stranger?  He hath passed the gates—
And waiteth there—within?

     And waiteth there? . . . Admit him then:
Who hunts the panther to his den
Flies not the panther's rage.
. . . Fool! fool! Thou deem’st it wise to beard
Our fury? . . . Gods! the face I feared!

     At height of bloom, so cometh blight.
Avaunt! avaunt, thou withering sight!
Eternal pains begin:
I swoon to Hell's abysmal night,—
Ah, horror!—Back, my Sin!
"Unbidden" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).