Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Lyrics of Life (1909)

IN THE BAG*: Lyrics of Life (1909) by Florence Earle Coates
I have come across two first edition covers of Lyrics of Life (1909), both published in December 1909:

 1910 reprint dust jacket:

*"Vintage" leather shoulder bag (ZB8960)  is from the Fossil Seville collection (2003).. Three compartments/sections. Similar in style to the Fossil Blackburn.


FULL slow to part with her best gifts is Fate;
The choicest fruitage comes not with the spring,
But still for summer's mellowing touch must wait,—
For storms and tears, which season'd excellence bring;
And Love doth fix his joyfullest estate
In hearts that have been hushed 'neath Sorrow's brooding wing.

Youth sues to Fame: coldly she answers, "Toil!"
He sighs for Nature's treasures: with reserve
Responds the goddess, "Woo them from the soil."
Then fervently he cries, "Thee will I serve,—
Thee only, blissful Love!" With proud recoil
The heavenly boy replies, "To serve me well, deserve!"
"Probation" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (August 1885), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


WHERE Harold sleeps the night is blest.
In the Great Mother's easeful breast
     He lies the brave and sweet among
     Who, loved by the wise gods, die young—
The goal achieved without the quest.

Though winds of Autumn from the West
May rudely rock the unsheltered nest,
     Yet shall all joys of Spring be sung
               Where Harold sleeps;

And we, our human griefs confessed,
We, too, by a dear hope caressed—
     Death's hope illimitable, sprung
     From nothing that to earth hath clung—
Shall, waiting a new dawn, find rest
               Where Harold sleeps!
"Where Harold Sleeps" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (September 1914) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Back to School Poems

Poems by Florence Earle Coates about learning, growth, transformation, hope and dreams.

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... 

AWAKE my soul!
     Thou shalt not creep and crawl—
     An earth-bound creature, pitiful and small,
Whose weak ambition knows no higher goal!
O wistful soul,

When morning sings,
     Forgetful of the night,
     Bathe all thy restless being in the light;
Till 'neath the mesh that close about thee clings
Thou feel thy wings!

Then find life's door,—
     Trusting the instinct true
     That points to Heaven and the aerial blue,
A wingèd thing impelled forevermore
To soar and soar!
"Transition" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (February 1902), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

"O AGED man, pray, if you know,
     Now answer me the truth!—
Which of the gifts that gods bestow
     Is the greatest gift of youth?

"O aged man, I have far to fare
     By the divers paths of Earth,
Which of the gifts I with me bear
     Is the gift of the greatest worth?

"Is it the might of the good right arm,
     Whereby I shall make my way
Where dangers threaten and evils harm,
     Holding them still at bay?

"Is it the strength wherewith I shall climb
     Where few before have trod—
To the mountain-tops, the peaks sublime
     That glow in the smile of the god?

"Is it the never-failing will,
     Invincible in might,
Which armed against oppression still
     Shall vanquish for the right?
"Or is it the heart, thou aged man!—
     The heart, impassioned, strong,
Which shall be blest, as naught else can,
     In perfect love ere long?"

The old man smiled: a listening breeze
     Grew whist on the sun-lit slope;
The old man sighed: "Ah, none of these!
     Youth's greatest gift is its hope."
"An Optimist" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

BE Thou my guide, and I will walk in darkness
     As one who treads the beamy heights of day,
Feeling a gladness amid desert sadness,
     And breathing vernal fragrance all the way.

Be Thou my wealth, and, reft of all besides Thee,
     I will forget the strife for meaner things,
Blest in the sweetness of thy rare completeness,
     And opulent beyond the dream of kings.

Be Thou my strength, O lowly One and saintly!
     And, though unvisioned ills about me throng,
Though danger woo me and deceit pursue me,
     Yet in the thought of Thee I will be strong!
"Be Thou My Guide" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (December 1892), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

LIFE has its limitations manifold:
     All life; not only that which throbs in thee,
     And strains its fetters, eager to be free.
The faultless eye may not thy vision hold—
Maiden, whose brow with thought is aureoled—
     And they who hear may lack the ministry,
     The august influence, of Silence, she
Who brooded o'er the void in ages old.

Prisoner of the dark inaudible,
     Light, which the night itself could not eclipse,
          Thou shinest forth Man's being to reveal.
     We learn with awe from thine apocalypse,
That nothing can the human spirit quell,
          And know him lord of all things, who can feel!
"To Helen Keller" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (September 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

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.

THANK God, a man can grow!
     He is not bound
With earthward gaze to creep along the ground:
Though his beginnings be but poor and low,
Thank God, a man can grow!
The fire upon his altars may burn dim,
     The torch he lighted may in darkness fail,
     And nothing to rekindle it avail,—
Yet high beyond his dull horizon's rim,
Arcturus and the Pleiads beckon him.
"Per Aspera" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (December 1906, as "Onward"), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

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.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

SOCRATES, a poem

HE raised the hemlock to his lips,
     He drained the fatal draught,
Calmly conversing with his friends,
     As he a wine had quaffed;
And, ah! what wine so rich to bless?
     The torch of day grown dim,
Death's cup has less of bitterness
     For all, because of him!
"Socrates" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Reader (September 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

On Joan of Arc

"A Light of Ancient France"'' by George William Joy (1895)
"She laid her head upon the straw..."

SHE laid her head upon the straw,
     She who had crowned a king of France,
And angel shapes, whom no man saw,
     For her deliverance,
Knelt at her feet—less pure, less sweet—
     A blessing in each glance.

She laid her head upon the straw,
     She who gave France her liberty,
And angel shapes, whom no man saw—
     Ah me! how could men see?—
Watched till the day, then bore away
     Something the flames set free.
Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (January 1902), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


HER spirit is to France a living spring
     From which to draw deep draughts of life. To-day,—
     As when a peasant girl she led the way
Victorious to Rheims and crowned the King,—
High and heroic thoughts about her cling,
     And sacrificial faiths as pure as they,
     Moving the land she loved, with gentle sway,
To be, for love of her, a better thing!

Was she unhappy? No: her radiant youth
     Burned, like a meteor, on to swift eclipse;
     But where it passed, there lingers still a light.
She waited, wistful, for the word of truth
     That breathed in blessing from immortal lips
     When earthly comfort failed, and all around was night.
Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


BLESSÈD: so have they named her. With just pride,
Deliberate care, and cautious circumstance,
The Holy Council have beatified
The Maid of Orleans, martyred child of France,
Who, at Domrémy's village altar kneeling,—
          Ignored by friend and foe,
Through all her young unsullied spirit feeling
The tears of a despairing people flow,—
Implored relief; and following the word
          Which none save she had heard,
Delivered France, and crowned her—long ago.
Rejoice, Domrémy, 'midst thy bowery green!
She was thine own, whom all, at last, would claim—
The greatest miracle that Earth hath seen
Since out of Nazareth a Saviour came.
Lowly as thou (though sheathed in armor bright),
          Her soul was as the snow—
Yea, as the lilies of her banner, white.
The Church hath blessed her; but man's heart, less slow,
Remembering her service and the price
          Of her dear sacrifice,
Gave her the name of blessèd—long ago.
Published in The Century Magazine (August 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Ms. of poem published in the August 1904 issue of The Century Magazine

Friday, August 26, 2016


THEY live so long, the Gods!
They know
What æons passed before a rose could blow;
What ages numberless, without a name,
Went out in darkness ere the saurian came,
A crawling dulness from the slime of Earth;
What further centuries with movement slow
Were borne along on Time's unebbing flow
Before the weakling man-child came to birth:
All this, and more, they know.

Our dates—how brief!
We cry:—
"Bless us to-day! to-morrow we shall die!"
Divided ever between hope and fear,
Warring with evil which we deem grows strong,
Our knowledge bounded by one little sphere,
We cannot share, for hope of good not nigh,
The peace of the unfathomable sky;
But the Gods patient be; they live so long,
And know that naught can die.
"They Live So Long" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (26 August 1916) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

DEARTH, a poem

AS one who faring o'er a desert plain
     Sees fountains clear in the mirage arise,
  And, parchèd, longs the nectar sweet to gain
     Which still before him flies—
  So, wistfully, half doubting, half-believing,
  Scornful of hope—yet hopeful, self-deceiving,
     I thirst for love, which wastes before my eyes.
"Dearth" by Florence Earle Coates. Above as published in Poems (1916) Volume I; also published in Lyrics of Life (1909). An additional first stanza is present in The Smart Set version (August 1908):
AS one who thirsting waits, while mocking him
     The waves o'erleap his shattered vessel's brink;
And, drifting on, life's cup but once to brim,
     Fain to sheer depths would sink—
So everywhere beholding love neglected,
Carelessly set aside, despised, rejected,
     I faint for a pure draught not mine to drink.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

DEATH, a poem

I AM the key that parts the gates of Fame;
I am the cloak that covers cowering Shame;
I am the final goal of every race;
I am the storm-tossed spirit's resting-place:

The messenger of sure and swift relief,
Welcomed with wailings and reproachful grief;
The friend of those that have no friend but me,
I break all chains, and set all captives free.

I am the cloud that, when Earth's day is done,
An instant veils an unextinguished sun;
I am the brooding hush that follows strife,
The waking from a dream that Man calls—Life!
"Death" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (August 1888), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


TWO angels stood at Eden's gate
     And neither uttered word:
In the eyes of one, indignant hate
     Flamed like the flame of his sword.
The other's brand burned also red
     With the fire that, avenging, sears,
And he waved the warning thing of dread;
     But his eyes were soft with tears.

They twain had watched the Fall's disgrace,
     But only one had seen
The mortal pain in the woman's face,
     Where never pain had been:
Had marked the clasp of the woman's hand
     On his who, Eden gone,
Seemed, through her trembling touch, new-manned,
     As he drew her gently on.

Two angels turned from Eden's gate,
     For Man had wandered far:
The one passed quickly, joy elate,
     From star to beckoning star;
But the other angel sighed, as lone
     The heavenly way he trod,
And came at last to the awful throne,
     And fell at the feet of God.

Then spake God's voice:—"What earth-born grief
     Dims radiance such as thine?"
The angel sighed:—"I beg relief
     For woes that are not mine!—
I plead for them that exiled live.
     If grace be of Thy plan,
Have mercy!—ah, have mercy! Give
     Some comfort, Lord, to Man!"

The fearful angel waited: came
     Long silence, then the Voice:—
"Love cannot take from wrong its blame:
     Man's woes are of Man's choice;
Yet do thou bear—thy pity's price—
     To them that outcast grope
This last, best gift of Paradise—
     This key whose name is Hope!"
"The Cherubim" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The North American Review (August 1913) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, August 22, 2016


ALL ugliness wears on its brow the brand
     Of Time and Dissolution. From of old,
Its doubtful journey through a shifting sand,
     The life in its ophidian breast is cold.
But beauty's path is one forever bright'ning
     In glory to each far horizon's rim.
Warm in the rose and golden in the lightning,
     Love's altar flame, the upward way to Him,—
Beauty, transcending all that bans and bars,
Moves as the light moves on, eternal as the stars!

Too well acquaint with passions that benumb,
     Earth is with them no more in kind accord.
'T is only by ascending we may come
     Where waits for her the new, the unexplored.
She longs—ah, how she longs!—to break asunder
     Her ancient chains, to lave in morning dew,
To stand a little space mid realms of wonder,
     To feel her nearness to the good and true:
She longs for beauty—vernal through the years—
To touch the dried-up spring and fount of happy tears!
"Beauty's Path" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (22 August 1908), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

PARIS, a poem

WHEN to thee, Trojan—firebrand of the night,
     Whom Hecuba, in fear, to Priam bore—
     The choice was given which should calm restore
To vexed Olympos, thou didst spurn the right
Of regal sovereignty, and the grave might
     Of godlike wisdom,—so renouncing more
     Than e'er was offered to a man before,—
In poor exchange for sensual delight.
Thy fame is an undying infamy;
     And the great city that hath fairest bloomed
Thine adolescent graces,—strangely she,
     As if a name resembling thine foredoomed,
Maintains the standards that appealed to thee,
     And by thy very vices is consumed.
"Paris" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).