Sunday, August 20, 2017

SONG: "Friendship from its moorings strays"

FRIENDSHIP from its moorings strays,
     Love binds fast together;
Friendship is for balmy days,
     Love for stormy weather.
For itself the one contends,
     Fancied wrongs regretting—
Love the thing it loves defends,
     All besides forgetting.
Friendship is the morning lark
     Toward the sunrise winging,
Love the nightingale, at dark
     Most divinely singing!
"Song" was published in The Living Age (20 August 1898), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

IN A TENEMENT, a poem

I THINK our alley 's darker now
     Since once I went away—
I can't exactly tell you how—
     In a strange place to play
With other children like myself,
     A whole long summer's day!

It was n't really there, I 'm sure—
     That place so strange to me,
For nobody was cold or poor:
     It just was green, and free,
And up above there seemed of blue
     A million miles to be.

The fairies live there!—little Ruth
     The lame girl told me so:
Yes; and I know it for a truth
     That there the fairies go,
And cover over all the trees
     With flowers white as snow.

The flowers made in Fairyland
     Have breath—oh, breath that 's sweet!
For once I held them in my hand—
     Far off from this dull street!—
And looked down in their hearts and saw
     The tracks of fairy feet.

I dream at night of that strange place,
     And in my dream, quite near,
They dance about before my face,—
     The fairies kind and dear;
And, oh, I want to go to them!
     You see, they can't come here.
"In a Tenement" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Weekly (9 September 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, August 18, 2017

MOTHERLESS, a poem

HE was so small, so very small,
     That since she ceased to care,
'T was easy just to pass him by,
     Forgetting he was there;
But though too slight a thing he seemed
     Of interest to be,—
One heart had loved him with a love
     As boundless as the sea.

He was so poor, so very poor,
     That now, since she had died,
He seemed a tiny threadbare coat
     With nothing much inside;
But, ah! a treasure he concealed,
     And asked of none relief:
His shabby little bosom hid
     A mighty, grown-up grief.
"Motherless" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (September 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

INFLUENCE, a poem

MY friend leaned o'er the flowery brink
Of evil, bending down to drink;
But though he stooped, resolved to take
     The harmful draught despite my fears,
He yielded for my pleading's sake,
     Feeling my love and tears.

Again he stoops; again I long
To save a fellow-man from wrong.
He was my friend! Fain, in this hour,
     Would I defend him as before:
I strive—but I have lost the power,
     Who love him now no more.
"Influence" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (August 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

LEAVE-TAKING, a poem

THOUGH hence I go—though with the fading day
            I seem to fade away,
Like to a primrose which beguiling Spring,
Too early fanning with perfumèd wing,
            Tempts, only to betray:

Though soon I sleep,—yet sorrow not, nor fear
            That you shall lose me, dear!
For not one cherished memory—
One single yearning of your heart for me,
            Shall fail to bring me near!

How strange could death divide who, living, share
            All happiness and care!
Still as you gaze, bereft of your desire,
On the dull embers of your lonely fire,
            You shall behold me there,

And though through hiemal glooms you sometimes learn
            To doubt, nor hope discern,—
Yet when the timid firstling buds awake,
And birds come back and sing, your heart to break,—
            Always, I shall return!
"Leave-Taking" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (August 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A ROUND, a poem

THE end of life is living,
     And 't is through love we live—
Through taking and through giving.
     Then freely take—and give!

When into life we blunder,
     Love waits to soothe our woe;
And 't is love's hand doth sunder
     Our bonds when hence we go.

Nor life nor love is mortal:
     Love holds of life the key,
And life is the veiled portal
     To love's infinity!
"A Round" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (15 August 1914) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A SEEKER IN THE NIGHT, a poem

I LIFT my eyes, but I cannot see;
I stretch my arms and I cry to Thee,—
And still the darkness covers me.

Where art Thou? In the chill obscure
I wander lonely, and endure
A yearning only Thou canst cure!

Once—once, indeed, in every face
I seemed thy lineaments to trace
And looked in all to find thy grace:

I thought the thrush—sweet worshiper!—
From the minaret of the balsam-fir
Hymned forth thy praise, my soul to stir;

I thought the early roses came
To lisp in fragrant breaths thy name,
And teach my heart to do the same;

I thought the stars thy candles, Lord!—
I thought the skylark as he soared
Rose to thy throne and Thee adored!

But now a labyrinth I wind,
And needing more thy hand to find,
Grope, darkling, Lord!—for I am blind!

Ah, bridge for me the awful vast,
That I may find Thee at the last!—
Then draw me close, and hold me fast!
"A Seeker in the Night" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (September 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


McKINLEY, a poem

PEACE!—mourn no more the martyr's fate!
Death came—though by the hand of hate,
His faithful life to vindicate,
     His name to set apart.
No more assailed, misunderstood,
He sleeps where love his grave hath strewed,
Safe sentinelled by gratitude,—
     The memory of the heart.
"McKinley" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Era (Oct 1901).

Keywords: William McKinley

Sunday, August 13, 2017

THE LITTLE LASS, a poem

AS Douglas to his castle came,
Emotion nerved his shatter'd frame,
And soft he pondered,—"Presently
My little lass will welcome me!

"As longs the miser for his gold,
As fever longs, with thirst untold,
So yearns my heart her face to see
Who yonder waits to welcome me!"

But as he turned his steed about,
A mournful peal of bells rung out;
Whereat he cried,—"Nay, merrily!
Ring forth my bairn to welcome me!"

He entered at the castle gate;
(None marked him come, for it grew late,)
He stood within his hall at last;
(None noted him, for tears fell fast.)

Quoth Douglas: "Friends, if me ye mourn,
With drooping heads and looks forlorn,
Now for your sorrows comfort ye,—
And fetch my lass to welcome me!

"'T is true that I from out the wars
Bring back a wound and many scars,—
But life is mine, and I am free,
And my brave lass hath ransom'd me!"

Up spoke an ancient servitor:
"We mourn indeed the wrongs of war:
We bless thy loved return,— but she
No more shall rise to welcome thee!"

Sudden as falls the giant oak
When smitten by the lightning stroke,
So swoonèd Douglas to the ground,
And bled afresh his healing wound.

They strove to stay life's ebbing tide,
They chafed his hands, they swathed his side,
But Donald wailed,—"Ah, woe is me!—
Thy little lass hath welcomed thee!"
"The Little Lass" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A REALM OF WONDER, a poem

FAR off there is a realm of wonder,—
          Know you its name?
No region the wide heavens under
          Could be the same!
Dark orange groves it hath, and alleys
     With sunlit verdure covered over
High-mounting hills, great river valleys
     Enriched by crops of maize and clover:
A Land apart, from all asunder,—
          Know you its name?

Walls hath it—two. One—of the mind,—
To the outside world forever blind,
Itself within itself hath still confined;
     Wherefore its brooding and exclusive spirit
Craves but for progress in experience sown,
Noiseless as Nature's own;
     And with that reverence it doth inherit,
Hearkens obediently its sages,
Mysteriously wise from distant ages,
     And with unconscious, tireless sacrifice
     Creates a paradise.

A paradise you say,
Stretching away—and endlessly away!—
     A garden—lovelily abloom
With rice and silk and tea,
Cotton and yam and wheat, all fair to see,
     And breathing forth an exquisite perfume
Of mingled mulberry and orange blows,
Azalea and rose:
     A garden, yet a tomb
Where myriads, sleeping, are remembered still
     By myriads more, who glad their precepts keep,
     And honor them in sleep.

What centuries of industries speak here!
What irrigating waters, silver-clear,
Skirting the uplands, rise, tier above tier!
     What thronged canals, through the Delta plain extending
Hundreds of miles!
     What junks, what bankside villages unending,
What cottages with brown and green roof-tiles!
What fanes! what wildwood temples without cease!
What unperturbed tranquillity! what peace!

Far off there is a realm of wonder,—
          Know you its name?
No region the wide heavens under
          Could be the same!—
     So calm, productive, full of beauty;
Unto contentment so inviting!
     A Land, through service and through duty,
The past and future so uniting
     That Death itself them may not sunder!—
          Know you its name?

Back of the centuries its birth-hour lonely
          Men vainly seek:
Of its beginnings legend only
          And myth may speak:
Ere Greece of beauty dreamed, or Rome of power,
In some mysterious, unrecorded hour,
Darkling from hushed obscurity it sprung
When the Nile gods and the Vedas yet were young.
"A Realm of Wonder"* by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

*See La Cité Chinoise of Eugène Simon. [Actual footnote]

Friday, August 11, 2017

THE LOST GIOCONDA, a poem

THE world is poorer, Italy's fair child,
          Lacking the face
That for so long its heart beguiled;
          Nor hopeth to replace
With all its riches multiplied,
Thee, eloquent, alone, art-glorified!

But somewhere, Mona Lisa! quietly,
          With folded hands,
And in thine eye's soft mockery
          The look that understands,
Thou wearest, lost to us the while,
Thine own inscrutable, unaging smile!
"The Lost Gioconda" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).


Vacant spot where the Mona Lisa was displayed in the Salle Carré, Louvre Museum.
The Century Magazine (February 1914)
LibriVox.org has posted a new project, Mine and Thine by Florence Earle Coates. Link here to check out its progress or contribute your voice! Past Librivox.org projects have included recordings of Coates' "Near and Far" and "October."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

ON FINDING BUDDHA'S DUST, a poem

"One hundred million people will experience a thrill of religious enthusiasm at the recent discovery of a relic-casket near Peshawar, India, containing some of the bones of Gautama Buddha."
O ASHES of Gautama, once the shrine
     And outer temple of celestial mind!—
     Home of a spirit, pure and heavenly kind,
That moved by human sympathy benign,
Out-poured itself, like sacrificial wine,
     To bring a light of hope unto the blind,—
     O ashes of Gautama! earth shall find
Naught midst her buried treasure more divine!

Though, centuries gone by, an Emperor sealed
     In crystal and in bronze this royal dust,
     Time may uncover it through waste and rust;
     But while man's heart to aught shall homage give,
Gautama's love, through sacrifice revealed,
     Eternal as that heart itself shall live!
"On Finding Buddha's Dust" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

OMAR, a poem

AN epicure in Pleasure's mart,
     Pursuing mirth, but never glad,
With melancholy songs his heart
     He soothed, and made a thousand sad.
"Omar" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

THE IRISH SHAMROCK IN SOUTH AFRICA, a poem

O LITTLE plant, so meek and slight,
     Tinct with the emerald of the sea
Which like a mother, day and night,
          Croons melodies to thee;
Emblem of Erin's hope and pride!
Though crushed and trampled under foot,
          Thou still art found
          The meadows round,
Up-springing from thine own sweet root!

Of sorrow thou hast been the sign
     Through weary, unforgiving years;
The dews upon thy tender vine
     Have seemed thy country's tears;
Now, now, forevermore, thou art
     Symbol of all that's brave and true—
          Blest as a smile
          Of thy sunlit isle,
In the Old World honored, and the New!

     For they lie asleep in a land of strangers,—
Far from the home their fame endears—
     The Inniskillings, the Connaught Rangers,
               The Dublin Fusiliers;
     And the little plant they loved so well—
          Better than fairest flower that blows—
               Is set apart
               In Britannia's heart
     With the Scottish thistle and the rose:

     Is set apart, and never again
          Shall human eyes the shamrock see
     Without a thought of the heroes slain
               Whose splendid loyalty,
     Stronger than ancient hate or wrong,
     Sublimed them 'midst the battle's hell—
               A tidal wave
               From the souls of the brave,
     That made them deathless as they fell!
"The Irish Shamrock in South Africa" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, August 7, 2017

THE CHOSEN, a poem

DEATH pitying stood before one bent and old,
     And said:—"Forbear your griefs, and go with me:
The tale of your misfortunes—all is told,
     And I am come at last to set you free."

But, lo! the man fell trembling to his knees,
     Affrighted, and entreating in sad plight:—
"Though poverty and pain deny me ease,
     Yet spare me!—but a day—a single night!"

Then Death, disdaining misery so base,
     Turned, silently, and sought whom life held dear.
He found you, my belovèd! in the place
     You glorified, and touched you with his spear;

And as one startled wakes from a fair dream
     He fain would dream again, if that might be,
You looked on Death clothed in his might supreme,
     And gave yourself to him,—forgetting me.

All beauteous in the blossom-time of youth,
     Ere yet a cloud your radiance could dim,—
You knew him for God's messenger, in truth,
     And like an angel, went away with him.
"The Chosen" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

EROS, a poem

I, WHO am Love, come clothed in mystery,
As rose my beauteous mother from the Sea,
     Veiling my luminous wings from mortal sight—
     Whether at noon or in the star-strewn night—
That I may pass unrecognized and free.

Ignoring them that idly seek for me,
Unto mine own, from all eternity
     I come with heart aflame and torch alight—
               I who am Love!

What bring I them? Ah, draughts that sweeter be
Than welling waters of Callirrhoe!
     What give I them? Life!—even in Death's despite;
     And upward still I lead them to the height
Of an immortal passion's purity!—
               I who am Love.
"Eros" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN, a poem


LIFE laid upon his forehead a caress
     And, smiling, gave him for his birthright dower,
     Humor and judgment, passion, purpose, power,
And gifts of vision, pure and limitless:
Then—for she ever tempers man's success,
     Nursing the canker in Earth's fairest flower,—
     She added pain; and taught him, hour by hour,
To know that only blessèd which doth bless!

So, following the Gleam from early youth,
     He lent a strengthening hand, and gave his heart,
     And aided feet, less sure than his, to climb:
He sacrificed not others to his art,
     But worshiped beauty with unselfish truth,
     And lives, the well-belovèd of his time!
"Edmund Clarence Stedman" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (September 1902), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, August 4, 2017

HEIMWEH, a poem

THE birds returning seem so glad
     As from the South they come,
They teach my heart, forlorn and sad,
     How distant is my home:
O'er land and sea wild roaming free,
     They little understand—
Glad nomads—that there is for me
     One home—one only Land!

And yonder dancing rivulet
     That merrily on doth go,
Humming a tune I 'd fain forget,
     Adds something to my woe:
Ah, had it but a thought for me
     'T would either now be dumb,
Or it would croon a melody
     Less dear to me at home!

Fond memories of days of yore!—
     My heart so hungereth,
The smell of upland clover or
     The dew-wet violet's breath
Might quickly fill it with delight;
     But exiled here I roam,
And dread, beyond all else, to-night,
     The scents that speak of home!
"Heimweh" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (September 1911) and The Unconquered Air (1912).

Thursday, August 3, 2017

CENDRILLON, a poem

        I  AM a dream,
        A fairy gleam
     Of rose and amethyst;
A creature of the moonlight and the mist,
Woven of stars that, meeting, silent kissed.
     Think of me as a dream!
I am a note of melody that woke
Within your breast, and to your longing spoke:
          A lonely strain
          Of ecstasy and pain;
     A hope that, glimpsed, must fade;
     A form, illusion made,
That, vanishing, shall come no more again!
     Regret me not that I
     Must like to music die!
        The virgin rose,
In blossoming, hastes to its fragrant close,
And whatsoe'er this magic hour I seem,
I am enchantment, only, and a dream,—
     Love always is a dream!

"Cendrillon" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (August 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

WHO WALKS THE WORLD WITH SOUL AWAKE, a poem

WHO walks the world with soul awake
     Finds beauty everywhere;
Though labor be his portion,
     Though sorrow be his share,
He looks beyond obscuring clouds,
     Sure that the light is there!

And if, the ills of mortal life
     Grown heavier to bear,
Doubt come with its perplexities
     And whisper of despair,
He turns with love to suffering men—
     And, lo! God, too, is there.
"Who Walks the World with Soul Awake" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (2 August 1913) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"ASK WHAT YOU WILL", a poem

Mrs. Coates with her niece, Florence Earle Johnson
Photo courtesy of Florence Earle Morrisey

ASK what you will, I must obey your hest!
Thus much, my lady-bird, seems manifest
     To you and me, who well each other know.
     What you, small tyrant, beg, I must bestow.
Come; falter not, but proffer your request!
Is it the flower I wear here on my breast?
My favorite nag? The book I love the best?
     Some dainty gown? Some brooch or necklace? No?
          Ask what you will!
See how the sun, down-sinking to his rest,
Gilds with his glory all the roseate west!
     I linger on, in life's chill afterglow.
     Nay; smile, beloved!—like your mother—so!
Stay but a moment! Now—my own! my blest!
          Ask what you will!

"Ask What You Will" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (August 1902), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, July 31, 2017

FIRST AND LAST, a poem

A writer once stated that "from a modern viewpoint [Florence Earle Coates'] attitudes seem naïve and optimistic, her prosody quaint," a reason for which she "is now regarded with far less enthusiasm."* Yet her lines convey timeless and vital themes (as all poetry should), and to enter "this world of pain" and somehow emerge hopeful and optimistic is not to be naïve, but trusting and wise.
HOPE smiles a welcome, if no other smiles,
     Upon our entrance to this world of pain;
     And on each purpose of our youth again,
     With an inspiring sympathy, she smiles.
She leads us forth to battle, and beguiles
     Our anguish when the long fight proves in vain;
     Till, pierced by countless wounds, amongst the slain
     We leave her, while the victor foe reviles.
But even as we touch at ruin's verge,
     And hear the voices of despair that urge
     The fatal plunge to chaos, Hope alone,—
How healèd and how ransomed none may guess,—
     Rising again in pallid loveliness,
     Resumes her sway, a thousand times o'erthrown.
"First and Last" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Cosmopolitan (July 1894) and Poems (1898).

*Thomas Eakins and the Swimming Picture (Bolger and Cash, 1996)

Sunday, July 30, 2017

BEFORE THE DAWN, a poem

I LOOKED on beauteous forms, as I lay dreaming,
     But on no form as beautiful as thine,
Who here, amid the moonbeams white and holy,
     Standest in silence by this bed of mine.

I looked on faces fair, as I lay sleeping,
     But on no face that seemed as nobly sweet
As that which in the pallid light above me
     My wondering, half-awakened sense doth greet.

Who and what art thou? Have I kept thee waiting?
     My sleep was as a river deep and calm;
Bring'st thou perchance some word of import for me?
     Hast thou, for broken hearts, like mine, some balm?

Who and what art thou? In my tranquil vision
     I gazed through rifted clouds on azure skies,—
I seemed to gaze beyond them,—but naught moved me
     Like the deep pity in thy brooding eyes.

Why art thou here to-night? I have been lonely—
     Have waited, prayed, for such an one as thou,
To still with presence kind my pulse's throbbing,
     To lay a cooling touch upon my brow.

Tell me thy name! Then, pain and fear forgotten,
     I straightway will arise and follow thee,
Who, so I think, art hither come to guide me
     To larger hope and opportunity.

Tell me thy name! I long, I need, to hear it!
     Thy name!—I may not plead, for failing breath,—
With look compassionate, the august stranger 
     Made answer very softly: "I am Death." 
"Before the Dawn" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Putnam's Monthly & The Reader (September 1908), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

THE RETURN, a poem

WHO knocks at the door so late, so late—
     Who knocks so late at the door?
Is it one who comes as a stranger comes,
     Or one who has knocked before?
Is it one who stays with intent to bless,
     Or one who stands to implore?

My days have been as the years, she said,
     And my heart, my heart is sore; 
Love looked in my face for a moment's space 
     One happy spring of yore— 
Looked in my face with a wistful grace; 
     And left me to grieve evermore! 

Through all the days the door stood wide,
     For hope had breathed a vow
That love should ne'er be kept outside.
     The years were long and hope hath died;
The door at last is barred and fast—
     Why comes this knocking now?

Yet woe the waiting heart, she said,
     And the heart it waiteth for! 
And woe the truth and wasted youth 
     That nothing shall restore! 
The faith that's fled, the hope that's dead, 
     The dreams that come no more. 

Who knocks at the gate—so late, so late?
     Thou foolish heart, be still!
What is 't to thee if love or hate
     Knocks in the midnight chill?
Art thou, poor heart, compassionate?
     Is love so hard to kill?

Ah me! the night is cold, she said;
     Would I might all forget; 
But memory lives when hope is dead, 
     And pity heals regret; 
As light still lingers overhead 
     When sun and moon are set. 
"The Return" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904), Poems (1916) Volume I and as "Who Knocks?" in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (September 1902).

Original footnote to poem:
"[George] Romney, the painter, married at nineteen and had two children in 1762.  He visited them only once, in 1767.  When old, nearly mad, and quite utterly desolate, he found his way back to his wife in 1799, and she, after the neglect of nearly forty years, received him with forgiveness and kindness, affectionately nursing him till his death; an act, as has been said, which, even from an artistic point of view, is worth all his pictures."

Friday, July 28, 2017

LOVE NEVER IS TOO LATE, a poem

LOVE never is too late; it sums,
     Within itself, all that is lasting gain,
And, or at morn or midnight, comes
     With blessings in its train.

We tarry, slow to give, alas!
     But though delayed, love never is too late—
Love that has power beyond the grave to pass
     And enter Heaven's gate!
"Love never is Too Late" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (September 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

ISRAFEL, a poem

Autograph verse, signed copy (in part) ca. 1909.

A DREAMER midst the stars doth dwell,
Known to the gods as Israfel.
        His heart-strings are a lute;
And when, the magic notes outpouring,
He parts his lips, the gods, adoring,
        Listen in transport mute,
Subdued and softened by the spell
Of the dreamer, Israfel!

And mortals, as they toil apart,
Listen with awe, and call him—Art,
        And fain his gift to gain,
Essay to imitate the fashion
Of his rare song, and breathe its passion,—
        But, ah, they strive in vain;
For his song is more than art,
Whose lute-strings are his heart!

And others, unto whom he wings
The sweetest melodies he sings,
        In worship, name him—Love;
Yet longing the pure strain to capture,
When at the very height of rapture,
        A sadness oft approve,
And fancy, strangely, that he wrings
The music from their own heart-strings!
"Israfel" by Florence Earle Coates. Above as published in Poems (1916) Volume I. Also published as "Israphel" in The Cosmopolitan (September 1894) and Poems (1898).

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

SONG: "IF LOVE WERE BUT A LITTLE THING", a poem

IF love were but a little thing,
     Strange love, which, more than all, is great—
One might not such devotion bring,
     Early to serve and late.

If love were but a passing breath—
     Wild love—which, as God knows, is sweet—
One might not make of life and death
     A pillow for love's feet.
"Song" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (September 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

EARTH'S BLOSSOMS, a poem

EARTH has her blossoms, and the sea his shells
     Wrought with as fine a workmanship, and fair
     As they had been some god's peculiar care;
And in the heart of each a spirit dwells
Whose voice, in flowers,—for they to earth belong—
     Is but a perfume, evanescent, sweet,
     While in the sea-born shell, as seemeth meet,
It is an echo faint of an unending song!
"Earth's Blossoms" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I, and as "Earth Has Her Blossoms" in Harper's Monthly Magazine (September 1909).

Monday, July 24, 2017

HOMEWARD, a poem

WHEN I come to my Father's house he will hear me:
               I shall not need
               With words implore
Compassion at my Father's door:
With yearning mute my heart will plead,
     And my Father's heart will hear me.

One thought all the weary day hath caressed me:
               Though cloud-o'ercast
               Is the way I go,
Though steep is the hill I must climb, yet, oh,
When evening falls and the light is past,
     At my Father's house I will rest me.

For thither,—whatsoe'er betide me;
               Howe'er I stray,
               Beset by fears,
Wearied by effort, or blinded by tears,—
Ah, surely I shall find my way,
     Though none there be to guide me!
"Homeward" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (September 1890), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

NATURA BENIGNA, a poem

Peach Blossoms—Villiers-le-Bel (1887-89)
by Childe Hassam
PD image from The Met
I WEAVE the beginning, I fashion the end;
Life is my fellow, and Death is my friend;
     Time cannot stay me,
     Nor evil betray me,—
They that would harm me, unknowing, defend.

I ravel asunder, I knit every flaw;
Blossoms I scatter, with tempests I awe;
     Birthplace of duty,
     And shrine of all beauty,—
Firmly I govern, and love is my law!
"Natura Benigna" by Florence Earle Coates. As published in Poems (1916) Volume I. Also published as "Nature" in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (September 1899) and Mine and Thine (1904).

Saturday, July 22, 2017

BREATHLESS WE STRIVE, a poem

Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, Grasmere, England
Wikimedia
BREATHLESS we strive, contending for success,
     According to the standards of our day.
     What is success? Is it to find a way
Wealth out of all proportion to possess?
Is it to care for simple pleasures less
     (While grasping at a more extended sway),
     And sacrificing to our gods of clay,
Submerge the soul, at last, in worldliness?

By Grasmere stands a cottage small and poor:
     The Dove was once its emblem, and the sign
That marked it as a wayside inn obscure;
But, frugal, dwelt high consecration here,
     And gratitude still guards it as a shrine,
Hallowed by that success which time but makes more dear!
"Breathless We Strive" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (September 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, July 21, 2017

TO THE RETURNING BRAVE, a poem

COME home! The Land that sent you forth
From East and West, from South and North,
Looks wistfully beyond her gates,
Extends her arms and waits—and waits!

At duty's call she stilled her woe;
She smiled through tears and bade you go
To face the death you would not shun.
Brave hearts, return! Your task is done.

Not as you journeyed come you back!
A glory is about your track
Of deeds that vanquished tyranny
And set a tortured people free:

Deeds, sprung of manhood's finest grace,
That envious Time shall not efface;
Deeds that proclaim a Nation's worth,
And crown the Land that gave them birth.

America but waits to greet
And bless you, kneeling at her feet,
Your standards fair in honor furled,
The proudest mother in the world!

Come home! The Land that sent you forth
From East and West, from South and North,
Looks wistfully beyond her gates,
Extends her arms and waits!
"To the Returning Brave" by Florence Earle Coates. Above as published in Poems (1916) Volume I. Published as "Welcome" in The Outlook (3 September 1898) and in Mine and Thine (1904). Also published as "Welcome to Dewey" in Life and Heroic Deeds of Admiral Dewey, Including Battles in the Philippines, & etc. (1899).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

UNREST, a poem

WE trekked our way to the desert,
     My soul and I, alone:
We passed beyond the world of men,
     And all men call their own,
And came where never yet were laws
     On parchment writ or stone.

Mid vast and barren stretches
     Where Age speaks not to Age,
Where ne'er doth spring a living thing
     Save the everlasting sage,
I felt as the savage coyote, free—
     With a freedom naught could cage.

No milestones mark the desert:
     Though seasons come and go,
Where the arid sands unmeasured lie
     None through the hour-glass flow;
The desert has no memory—
     Nor can of promise know.

Unfettered mid the silence,
     Escaped from rule and law,
The desert, like a sea-floor vast,
     Exultantly I saw;
Yet distant heights that pierced the blue,
     Still troubled me with awe;

And when, turned from the mountains,
     I passed beyond the brush
Where a sea-floor without weed or shell
     Burns breathless in the hush,
There came mirage my sense to mock
     With grasses sweet and lush.

Thirst, not as that for water,—
     A thirst ne'er felt before,—
Parched gradual in the soul of me
     Till I could bear no more;
Earth seemed to cry: "Now whither fly
     From the dearth you struggled for?"
     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·
Reluctant, slow returning
     The common lot to share,
With a new and strange emotion—
     Half longing, half despair,
I said: "For man is no escape:
     Here bides the Law, as there!"
"Unrest" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Athenæum (11 September 1915) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

TO BRITANNIA, a poem

Wikimedia
On seeing a picture of the cairn and cross under which lie Captain Scott and his men
BRITANNIA, they who perished here have crowned thee—
     Have proved the dauntless temper of thy soul;
Great memories of the past, through them have found thee
     Intrepid as of old, untouched and whole.

Triumphant Mother! Make an end to sighing
     For these, thrice happy!—with sonorous breath
Let bugles sing their requiem who are lying
     In all the full magnificence of death!

They knew not failure: dream and aspiration
     They knew, indeed, and love, and noble joy;
And at the last faith brought them the elation
     That Destiny is powerless to destroy.

The utmost summit of desire attaining,
     What further is there left deserving strife?
Ah, there is still the peerless hope remaining,—
     In death to prove one's worthiness of life!

Sublime thy grief, Britannia! sons have crowned thee—
     With hard-won laurels have enwreathed thy name:
Have shown the world the bulwark set around thee,
     Adding new consecration to thy fame.

Nor have they blessed thee, only: Fate defying,
     Others in lands remote shall fear contemn,
And find it easier, themselves denying,
     To die like heroes, too,—remembering them.

They do not lie in lonely graves forsaken,
     Who for high ends can so supremely dare;
From human hearts they can no more be taken,
     And Immortality is with them there.
"To Britannia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume I and as "In Remembrance: The Antarctic Heroes of 1912" in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1913).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DEMETER, a poem

THOU, thou hast seen the child I seek!
The vale is thine and the cloudy peak,
     Divine Apollo
     Whose eye doth follow
Each secret course! Ah, speak!

I have sued to the other gods in vain:
Thou wilt not disregard my pain;
     But by thy power
     Win back my flower
To gladden earth again!

Fair as the poppy mid the wheat,—
Her breath as the breath of the wild grape, sweet
     In the twilight tender,—
     She loved thy splendor
Of perfect day to greet.

And it is thou—of gods most dear!—
Thou, sun-god! who hast led me here:
     Whose smile caressing,
     My wrong redressing,
Tells me the Maid is near!

Blessèd, O blessèd, be thy light!
She comes from the shadows—blissful sight!—
     To the breast that bore her
     To the yearning for her,
That fills me, day and night!
"Demeter" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, July 17, 2017

ON THE DEATH OF LADY CURZON, a poem

Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston
Portrait study by Franz von Lenbach, c. 1902
Wikimedia Commona
JULY 17, 1906
INTO the light where beauty doth not pale,
Into the glory that can never fail,
     Beyond our yearning care, she passed from view.
Two nations loved and claimed her,—English flower,—
One gave her birth, one gave a regal dower,
But both—ah, both forgot how Heaven must love her too!
"On the Death of Lady Curzon" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Death date in poem is likely incorrect. Most sources cite Wednesday, 18 July 1906.

JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER, a poem

James McNeill Whistler (self portrait)
(1834-1903)
GREATEST of modern painters, he is dead!—
     Whistler, in whom death seemed to have no part:
     He of the nimble wit and jocund heart,
Who sipped youth's nectar at the fountain-head,
And felt its wine through all his veins run red:
     Who worshiped the ideal—not the mart,
     And blessed the world with an imperial Art,
Whereby who longs for beauty may be fed!

When things men deem momentous are forgot,
Laurels will bloom for him that wither not;
     And Death's inverted torch shall fail to smother
The light of genius, tender and sublime,
Which with austere restraint, and for all time,
     Painted the gentle portrait of the "Mother"!
"James McNeill Whistler" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (November 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Whistler's Mother (1871), or Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1

Sunday, July 16, 2017

THE WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, a poem


"When the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows."
WOULD you feel the witching spell
     Of the whitethroat, listen!
There are secrets he can tell
Of the marsh, and of the dell
     Where the dewdrops glisten.

Poet of the brooding pine
     And the feathery larches,
Dawn-lit summits seem to shine,
Lucent in each throbbing line,
     Under azure arches.

All his soul a floating song,—
     Sweet, too sweet for sadness,—
At his bidding, hither throng
Memories that make us long
     With a plaintive gladness.

Ah, were all the woodland bare,
     Should those notes but quiver,
Straight I'd see it budding fair!—
And the lilies would be there,
     Floating on the river!
"The White-throated Sparrow" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

THE MORNING GLORY, a poem

WAS it worth while to paint so fair
     Thy every leaf—to vein with faultless art
Each petal, taking the boon light and air
     Of summer so to heart?

To bring thy beauty unto perfect flower,
     Then, like a passing fragrance or a smile,
Vanish away, beyond recovery's power—
     Was it, frail bloom, worth while?

Thy silence answers: "Life was mine!
     And I, who pass without regret or grief,
Have cared the more to make my moment fine,
     Because it was so brief.

"In its first radiance I have seen
     The sun!—why tarry then till comes the night?
I go my way, content that I have been
     Part of the morning light!"
"The Morning Glory" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (April 1910), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, July 14, 2017

CIVILIZATION, a poem

OLD as the race of man,
     Young as the child new-born,
From glooms Plutonian
     I mount to paths of morn;
And as I move o'er vale and hill,
     Before me flees the night,
For on into the darkness still
     I bear my light.

The desert stayed me long
     Its fancied worth to tell;
The savage, subtle and strong,
     Opposed me, and he fell:
But the savage learned from conflict past
     To battle and succeed,
And the foolish desert came at last
     To bloom indeed.

I halt not for the maimed,
     I wait not for the blind;
My foot is never lamed,
     Whoe'er may lag behind:
I hasten on, like the wind of God,
     To the conquest He ordains:
Parting the human from the clod,
     Undoing chains.

The thing that hindereth
     My progress as I pass,
Is withered in my breath
     Like parchèd summer grass.
I hasten on, like the wind of God,
     That must unfettered blow,
Wooing the blossom from the sod
     Where'er I go.

I taught the Hindoo throng
     To worship: I awoke
The Pyrrhic phalanx strong,
     To break the Persian yoke:
I set great Pharaoh's captives free,
     The Tarquin's pride down-hurled,
And in a child of Galilee,
     O'ercame the world!
"Civilization" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

NOTHING THAT CAN DIE, a poem

NOTHING that we deem can die
     Has any thought of death:
The mortal thing, without a sigh—
Without reproachful plaint or cry—
     Yields scarcely conscious breath;
The coming sleep to it the same
As that from which it all-unknowing came.

But spirit cannot so resign
     A hope that o'er the depths of sorrow
Like to a star remains: a sign
That strengthens, by its beam divine,
     To-day with promise of To-morrow!
Nay; longing, vital, and foreseeing,
Itself becomes a pledge of deathless being.
"Nothing that can die" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (July 1914) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

TO ONE IN HOSPITAL PENT, a poem

LITTLE sister, everywhere
There is sorrow: here—where men
Greet the day-beam often when
They the lagging moments measure
By the suffering they bear—
          Just as there!

Earth-born children all are due
At one goal, and none is free:
Nay; not I, who seem to be
Privileged at large to wander
Where no walls obstruct the blue,
          More than you!

But where tears have wet the sod,
Beautiful may flowers spring,
And in cages birds may sing;
For there's love, too, little sister,
Everywhere that grief hath trod;
          And there's God!
"To One in Hospital Pent" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (July 1916) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

HELEN KELLER WITH A ROSE, and other poems


Published in the July 1905 issue of The Century Magazine, "Helen Keller with a Rose" was written after Mrs. Coates viewed the above image published in the January 1905 issue of the same magazine.

OTHERS may see thee; I behold thee not;
     Yet most I think thee, beauteous blossom, mine:
     For I, who walk in shade, like Proserpine—
Things once too briefly looked on, long forgot—
     Seem by some tender miracle divine,
When breathing thee, apart,
To hold the rapturous summer warm within my heart.
We understand each other, thou and I!
     Thy velvet petals laid against my cheek,
     Thou feelest all the voiceless things I speak,
And to my yearning makest mute reply:
     Yet a more special good of thee I seek,
For God who made—oh, kind!—
Beauty for one and all, gave fragrance for the blind!
"Helen Keller with a Rose" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (July 1905) and Lyrics of Life (1909).

TO HELEN KELLER

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.

AGAINST THE GATE OF LIFE

TO HELEN KELLER

AS mute against the gate of life you sit,
     Longing to open it,
Full oft you must behold, in thought, a maid
With banner white, whose lilies do not fade,
     And armor glory lit.

Across the years, darkling, you still must see,
     In the hush of memory,
Her whom no wrong of Fate could make afraid—
Of all the maidens of the world, The Maid!
     In her brave purity.

For she, like you, was singly set apart,
     O high and lonely heart!—
And hearkened Voices, silent save to her,
And looked on visions she might not transfer
     By any loving art,—

Knew the dread chill of isolation, when
     Life darkened to her ken;
Yet could not know, as round her closed the night,
How radiant and far would shine her light,—
     A miracle to men!
"Against the Gate of Life" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (December 1910) and The Unconquered Air (1912).

Monday, July 10, 2017

ROMANCE, a poem

HOW fair you are, wondrous maiden,
As from the aisle I behold you
In the old English cathedral,
Standing so rapt and apart!

Glintings of gold from the stained glass
Brighten the coils of your dark hair
Waving away from a forehead
Pure with the freshness of youth,

And your face flower-like lifted,
With the blue eyes full of worship,
Fairer you seem than the angels
Carved near the altar, in stone.

What though I know not your name, dear,—
Though I to-day first behold you—
You who must pass as a vision
Nobly enthralling and glad?

Does he who, lone in the forest,
Finds there an exquisite blossom,
Joy in it less that its beauty
Blooms not to fade on his breast?

Nay: nor does one who at nightfall
Harkens the voice of the mavis
Feel less delight that the singer
Blesses him, high out of reach.

So, though you pass—and for ever,
Yet I, afar, shall remember
That the world holds such a maiden,
And, you remembering, love!
"Romance" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Athenaeum (July 1916) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

POETRY, a poem

CONTEMPLATIVE and fair, with look divine,
     Her wistful vision fixed on the unseen,—
     The future hers, as the long past has been,—
She waits apart. Who disregard her shrine,
Who pour to her libations of red wine,
     Who heal their griefs at her loved Hippocrene,
     She noteth not—enwrapt in thought serene,
And pondering grave meanings, line by line.

She has envisaged the veiled heart of things—
     Has passed through Purgatory, and her way,
          Darkling, unravelled through the deeps of Hell;
          And thence arising where the blessèd dwell,
Has touched the stars with her aspiring wings,
     And knows that she is deathless as are they!
"Poetry" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Critic (July 1905), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

CRUEL LOVE—ANACREONTIC, a poem

I LOOKED from out my window once
     And saw Love standing there;
No cloak had he to cover him,
     His dimpled feet were bare,
And fast and chill the snowflakes fell
     On his ambrosial hair.

He lifted up to mine a face
     Filled with celestial light;
Fond, fond with pity grew my heart
     To see his hapless plight,
And down I sped to offer him
     Warm shelter for the night:—

"Come in, come in, thou tender child,
     A wanderer from thine own!
Hath all the world abandoned thee,
     That thou art thus alone?
Come in, come in! that straightway I
     For others may atone!"

I took his icy hand in mine,—
     Why swifter throbbed each vein?
Was it the impulse of my blood
     To ease his frozen pain?—
Yet still his lips refused to smile,
     Still fell his tears like rain.

Bashful he seemed, as half inclined
     To shiver there apart:
I led him closer to the fire,
     I drew him to my heart:
Ah, cruel Love! my trustful breast
     He wounded with a dart!

Ah, cruel Love! He smiled at last—
     A wondrous smile to see!
And passing from my sheltering door,
     With step alert and free,
He took my warmth, my joy with him,—
     His tears he left to me!
"Cruel Love—Anacreontic" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (July 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, July 7, 2017

MIGHT I RETURN, a poem

MIGHT I return to that May-day of gladness
     When life is young, and all its promise fair;
Might I efface each memory of sadness,
     And put away the weary load of care,—
To pluck the rose that in Time's Eden blows,
     I would not go, were I to miss you there!

Might I ascend unto those realms of rapture
     Whose amaranthine joys fade not again,
Might I the secrets of Elysium capture,
     And find fruition for my longings vain,—
I would forego these dear delights, to know
     That you were with me, and to share your pain.
"Might I Return" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1896), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

ADIEU, a poem

ADIEU! I know that I no more
     Shall behold you,
Your future lies beyond her door
     Who consoled you;

The world has promised to redeem
     Each new sorrow,
It beckons, and you lightly dream
     Of a morrow.

I weep not, nor shall futile sighs
     Hold you longer,
The pity in your loveless eyes
     Makes me stronger,

For terrible, past loss of mine,
     Hath arisen
The dread to know what was your shrine—
     But your prison.

I listen while your lips protest,
     Heavy hearted,
For by your wishes unexpressed—
     We are parted:

I listen, and hope's fickle glow
     Fades away.
Why mock my grief? If you can go—
     Wherefore stay?

In all the past we still were true,
     You and I, love;
Few words suffice to bid adieu,
     Few to die, love;

The loneliest stand face to face,
     Disunited,
And thoughts of love that strain through space
     Are requited!
"Adieu" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

AN ADIEU, a poem

SORROW, quit me for a while!
     Wintry days are over;
Hope again, with April smile,
     Violet sows and clover.

Pleasure follows in her path,
     Love itself flies after,
And the brook a music hath
     Sweet as childhood's laughter.

Not a bird upon the bough
     Can repress its rapture,
Not a bud that blossoms now
     But doth beauty capture. . . .

Sorrow, thou art Winter's mate,
     Spring cannot regret thee;
Yet, ah, yet—my friend of late—
     I shall not forget thee!
"An Adieu" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (July 1913) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Trivia: "An Adieu" was read by actress Jenny Agutter in A Schubert Song Cycle performance featuring baritone Roderick Williams and pianist Susie Allan.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

AMERICA, a poem

THY children are inspired by thee:
Blest by thy gift of liberty,
They go to make the wretched free,
          Mother-land!

They were indeed not sons of thine
Could they withhold that gift divine.
Of liberty thou art the shrine,
          Mother-land!

Thy children glory in thy name;
They write it, as with words of flame,
In deeds that put thy foes to shame,
          Mother-land!

In deeds of daring unforecast,
In deeds of valor unsurpassed,
In deeds that make thee known at last,
          Mother-land!

Thy strength it was that made them strong;
Thy justice taught them hate of wrong;
They are of thee, to thee belong,
          Mother-land!

Their lungs are filled with thy sweet breath;
Thy voice they hear, and what it saith;
They love thee, and they fear not death,
          Mother-land!
"America" by Florence Earle Coates (before the war for the liberation of Cuba). Published in The Outlook (9 July 1898), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, July 3, 2017

AFFINITY, a poem

ALL are not strangers whom we so misname:
Man's free-born spirit, which no rule can tame,
     Careless of time, o'er vasty distance led,
Still finds its own where alien altars flame,
     Still greets its own, amongst the deathless dead!
"Affinity" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Putnam's Monthly (July 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909), and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

LIFE, a poem

THOU art more ancient than the oldest skies,
But youth forever glances from thine eyes;
     Time wars against thee, and consumes thy fires,
Yet, wingèd, thou from ashes dost arise!
"Life" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (July 1889), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

On this day in 1860

According to an 1860 Census, Florence had just turned 10 years old, and lived with her father ("Atty at law"), mother, and was the eldest of her siblings: Alice, Mary, George H. Jr., and "Fanny" (Frances). The family had a "servant" named Maggie Wallace, from Ireland, who was 19 years old at the time. The Earle's estate was valued at $5,000 (Philadelphia Ward 15).

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Birth and PRIVILEGE, a poem

Florence Earle Coates was born on this day in 1850 to Philadelphia lawyer George Hussey Earle, Sr. and Frances Van Leer Earle. The eldest of five children, to include Mary Earle, Alice Earle, George H. Earle, Jr., and Frances Van Leer Earle.

PRIVILEGE

BLEST is the right to share
     The grief of hearts forlorn,—
With other men to bear
     What must by men be borne;
          For night bestows dawn's orient rose
     And glories of the morn;
And as its shadow-wing
     Lends to the sunlight worth,
So out of suffering
     Arise the joys of earth—
          The good and ill, united still
     And offspring of one birth.
Great is the gift of life
     To him who lives indeed,
A partner in the strife,
     The toil, the pain, that speed—
          Like hidden rills veined through the hills—
     Life's ocean-deeps to feed!
"Privilege" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Independent (30 December 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, June 30, 2017

GIVE ME NOT LOVE, a poem

GIVE me not love that would enthrall
     A spirit panting to be free;
But give me love which more than all
     Would find it sweet to soar with me!
The bird that close to earth doth cling,
May, darkling, be content to sing,
But full the sunlight shines afar—
And there be heights where eagles are.

Give me not love which hour by hour,
     Like to the rose, doth pale its hue;
But love still constant as the flower
     That opens to each morn anew;
Not love which, shadowed by the tomb,
A little space doth languid bloom,
But love that draws its deeper breath
From altitudes that know not death.
"Give Me Not Love" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (June 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

THE YOUNG WIFE, a poem

Edwardian Woman on the Beach (1900)
by Thomas Pollock Anshutz
Wikimedia

SHE leaned above the river's sedgy brink—
The little wife—half-minded there to drink
Forgetfulness of all the grief and pride
That overwhelmed her spirit like a tide.

She had so blindly trusted!  Yet doubt grew—
Whence it had sprung, alas! she hardly knew,—
A hydra-headed monster that devoured
Her happiness ere fully it had flowered.

He who had been her truth!—could he betray?
"Ah, let me die," she cried, "or quickly stay,
Thou who bestowed, unasked, this gift of breath,
Imaginings more terrible than death!"

Lone and forespent, she leaned her heavily
Against a willow; when she seemed to see—
Doubting if that indeed she saw or dreamed,
So full of mystery the vision seemed—

A form unknown, ineffable in grace,
With look compassionate bent on her face.
"Thy tears have moved the Heart Omnipotent,
Wherefore I come, to thee in pity sent,—"

So, as she thought, the wondrous vision spake,—
"To serve thee, if I may, e'en though I make
Confession, grievous unto me, who know
My folly was forgiven long ago. . . .

"A youth was I who fondly pleasure sought,
Careless to ask how dearly it was bought;
Who passed my days in idleness, nor guessed
How close the coils of evil round me pressed,

"Till, like some swimmer boastful of his strength
Who dares too far, I faced the truth at length—
Perceived the awful distance I had come,
And, battling back, despaired of reaching home.

"Then I had perished in my utter need,
Had no one trusted me beyond my meed;
But—I reached port at last, my fate withstood,
Because one woman still believed me good."

Softly the vision faded, and was gone.
The young wife by the river stood alone;
Musing, she lingered there a little while,
And to her pensive lips there came a smile.
"The Young Wife" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909).

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

THE YOUNG WIFE SPEAKS, a poem

HAPPINESS is everywhere!—
On the earth and in the air,
With the bloom and with the bee,
With the bird that wingeth free!
Happiness is everywhere!—
And it binds my heart to thee.

"Everywhere are pain and woe"?
Ay, belovéd, that I know:
None from grief is wholly free,—
It doth even visit me!
Yet to grief I something owe,
For it closer binds to thee!

Laughter have we shared and tears,—
Knowest thou which more endears?
Tell me truly! I would be
Wise indeed to choose, nor flee
Aught in all the gift of years
That would bind my heart to thee!
"The Young Wife Speaks" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BETROTHAL, a poem

BOTH your hands? . . . What mean they, dear?
I, unworthy,—dare I claim you?
Then, against the world, I hold you:
Mine—forever mine!

Men have waked from dreams of joy:
Teach me to believe this rapture!
Lift your eyes! O my beloved,
Let me read your heart!

Is it true? . . . Ah, me! those eyes!
How divinely kind!—how tender!
Doubt itself could not distrust them,
Or resist their light!

Dear, without you, I have been
Poorer than the humblest beggar
Who against your door at nightfall
Kneeling, asked for bread:

I have gazed upon your face
And have felt such fear oppress me
That I trembled. From this moment,
Nothing fear I more!

For whatever perils come,
Nothing henceforth can divide us;
Neither follies nor ambitions—
Neither joys nor tears:

Never can you go so far
That my love shall fail to find you;
Seeking ever to deserve you,
Upward striving still;

And though seas should lie between,
I shall feel that you are near me:
In the twilight and night-season
I shall hear your voice.
"Betrothal" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, June 26, 2017

ON RE-READING "THE SICK KING IN BOKHARA", a poem

AS one grows weary dragging at the chain
Of circumstance which, unrelentingly,
Binds him to futile, joyless drudgery,
Far from the skyey paths youth thought to gain;
Though mocked by hope and teased by self-disdain,
Forgets his griefs in wingéd sympathy
When one more blest and worthier to be free
Triumphant rises from earth's sordid plain;
So, to this fragrant oriental story—
Bright, in the midst of old-world wretchedness,
With love's benignant and eternal glory—
We turn who fevered and athirst have dwelt
In desert places and with tears confess
How deeply he who wrote has thought for man—and felt.
Germantown, Penn., June, 1886.
"On Re-reading 'The Sick King in Bokhara'" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Literary World (26 June 1886).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

THE POETRY OF EARTH, a poem

"The poetry of earth is never dead."—Keats.

THERE is always room for beauty: memory
     A myriad lovely blossoms may enclose,
But, whatsoe'er hath been, there still must be
     Room for another rose.

Though skylark, throstle, whitethroat, whip-poor-will,
     And nightingale earth's echoing chantries throng,
When comes another singer, there will be
     Room for another song.
"The Poetry of Earth" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

DREAM THE GREAT DREAM, a poem

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.

On Poems (1898)

"My 'Poems' were written without a purpose, other than the expression of faiths and ideals strongly realized and emotions keenly felt. They were written for the joy of writing, and for the satisfaction of an irresistible impulse. It is my belief that it is not the business of art either to teach or to preach." ~Written at Camp Elsinore, Upper St. Regis Lake, New York, June 24, 1898. From Book News, August 1898.

Friday, June 23, 2017

IN MEMORY OF CAROLINE FURNESS JAYNE, a poem

Caroline Furness Jayne, American ethnologist and author of String Figures and How To Make Them (1906), died on this day in 1909. She was the daughter of Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness, to whom Mrs. Coates dedicated her fourth volume of poetry, The Unconquered Air (1912).

Caroline Furness Jayne
drawing by Sonja N. Bohm
after portrait by Wm. Merritt Chase
COULDST thou—thou, also, die, whom life so cherished?
     Couldst thou go from us, in thy beauteous June,
Leaving a sense of joy untimely perished,
     Of music stilled too soon?

We had not dreamed, fair child, that thou before us
     Shouldst find the meadows of the asphodel—
Shouldst hear, ere we, "the high imagined chorus,"—
     But, ah, for thee, 't is well!

Not thine to creep reluctant to death's portal:
     Thy spirit from the mirk of transient things
Rose radiant to the light of the immortal,
     With eager, outstretched wings!

For the grave gods, bestowing every blessing
     Upon a child of Earth, ere grief should come,
Crowned thee, in youth, with the mild touch caressing
     That calls their loved ones home!
"In Memory of Caroline Furness Jayne" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (October 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

TIME, a poem

WHAT thought can measure Time?—
Tell its beginning, name
     The void from which it first, faint-pulsing, came?—
     Follow its onward going,—
     A restless river without tumult flowing,—
Or with sure footing climb
Unto its unlit altitudes sublime?

What thought can trace the wonders it hath seen—
Time, the creator of all that hath been,
     Giver of bounty where was dearth,
     Bringer of miracles to birth:
Time, through whose office is the seedling sown,
The fruit up-gathered, the ripe harvest mown,
     And beauty made to glorify the earth?

Before the land took shape and rose
     Black and chaotic from the old, old sea,
Before the stars their courses chose,
     Before the moon's most ancient memory,
Time to Earth's vision, veiled in night, appears
Back of the viewless cycles of the years.

The Hours, his little children, run
     Lightly upon his errands ever;
By sure and swift relays is done
     His will, disputed never;
The while these transient Hours infirm
Measure of mortal things the destined term.

Ah, me, the days! the heavy-weighted years,
     Each with its Spring and Winter, dusk and dawn!
The centuries, with all their joys, and tears,
     That came, and now—so utterly are gone!
Gone whither? Whither vanished so?
Does broad Orion, or does Hesper know?

There comes no answer. Are we dupes, indeed,—
     Offspring of Time, by Time relentless slain,
     Our purest aspirations dreamed in vain?
     Ah, no: man's soul indignant doth disdain
Ignoble vassalage to such a creed,
Well-knowing it is free,—
     Aye, free!—for present, past, and future blend,
     The segments of a circle without end,
Losing themselves in one, unbourned eternity!
"Time" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The North American Review (June 1915) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

LINES FOR A FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY, a poem

GOLDEN their days have been, for love is golden—
     Golden as sunshine warm with life, not cold;
Lighting earth's pathway with the blessing olden
     That never groweth old.

It owns no Past; a help divine in sorrow,
     A strength to overmaster each annoy,
Love holds the faithful promise of a morrow,
     Immortal in its joy!
"Lines for a Fiftieth Anniversary" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

ODE ON THE CORONATION OF KING GEORGE V, a poem

"I have vowed to God to lead a right life in all things, to rule justly and piously my realms and subjects, and to administer just judgment to all. If heretofore I have done aught beyond what was just, through headiness or negligence of youth, I am ready with God's help to amend it utterly."—King Canute's letter to his English subjects.

     WHEN Nature takes away the things we prize,
With all a mother's patient tenderness
She soothes us, and from treasure limitless
Brings forth new joys to gladden our grieved eyes.

Before the leaves fall fluttering to the ground
Affrighted at the very breath and sound
Of the wind's passion, she from blight and storm
Garners the seeds of Summer, safe and warm.

She knows, though glad and sweet the wild bird sing,
How soon the trillium of the wood shall fade,—
Nor longer with its stars illume the shade,—
She knows, and harvests for a future Spring;

And though about her winds of Autumn sigh,
And though the rose—the rose, itself, must die,
And though the lordly pine that scorns to bend
Must fall at last,—she knows there is no end.

Sure of her birthright—elemental, vast,—
Calmly she waits; but man, to whom is given
Earth in its fullness and the dream of heaven,
Still looks with fond regret unto a past

Whose colors fade not in the distant light,
But rather to his worship grow more bright,
And careless as to that the future saith,
Pays tribute to the nothingness of death.
I
     When the fourth Henry, in that chamber called
Jerusalem, lay dying, with what fear,
Knowing the Angel-of-the-Shadow near,
Must he have viewed the future and, appalled,
Beheld succeeding to his perilous throne—
To reign and rule alone—
One who to Folly turned a laughing face,
Dallied with Fortune, and out-dared Disgrace.

More grievous, as the fatal hour drew nigh,
More dreadful than the death he might not fly,
More poignant than regret or mortal pain
Or memories of woeful Richard slain,—
More tragic than all else to him the thought
That his own offspring, in but little while,
Consorting with the worthless and the vile,
Should bring his dearly purchased good to naught.

Fainting, the King saw sorrows multiply,
And out of weakness dared to prophesy
Evil of Harry Monmouth! nor might guess
How idle his distress
For one whose future Honour should secure
In human hearts and in heroic story,—
The King new found, new crowned, at Agincourt,—
Great England's darling and her future glory!
II
But how should doubt not add to care its pain
When, after Mary Tudor's baleful reign,
Forth came from prison drear
Another Queen? Yet 't was her spirit, fired
By grave ambition, nobly men inspired
To victories thrice dear,—
Giving her Age to breathe immortal breath,
Illustrious in the name Elizabeth!
III
Still with misgiving crowns are laid
Upon the brow of kings.
Yet oft have fairest plantings been repaid
With poorest harvestings,
While following vain auguries of ill
To man have come, beneficently born,
Such reigns as his whose tact and generous will
The Nations of the earth late joined to mourn.

But no misgiving clouds the Future now!
In all the ages rarely hath there been
Such light of hope upon the forehead seen
As that which haloes her auroral brow,
Whose puissance shall uplift the poor and weak,
Whose love shall teach, to such as wisdom seek,
That they are blest who give, they only free
Who in the strength of Law find liberty!
IV
     England, it is thy coronation hour!
Doubt is of high and ancient lineage,
But faith is more than plenitude of power,
And now—distrust were treason. Turn in pride,

O England, to thy happy heritage!
And as the bridegroom forth to meet the bride
Fares smiling, so, from cloudy griefs of night,
Turn thou where lovely dawns the day's new light,

And with wise trust, the fruit of loyalty,
To his great father's throne
Make doubly welcome Alexandra's son—
Thy son, O England!—worthy thine to be!

Far from thy beauteous isle, across the Sea,
A Sister-Land prays heaven for him and thee—
Prays that the coming ages still may sing
The blessings of his reign.  God save the King!
"Ode on the Coronation of King George V" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and as "Henry V" in Poems (1916) Volume II. The later instance was published omitting stanzas II through IV along with the quotation from King Canute's letter to his English subjects.