Saturday, October 21, 2017

THE HOSPITAL, a poem

I

IN THE MATERNITY WARD
IS this the place? So still!—as with the hush
     That follows storm.
Each on her narrow bed, they quiet lie—
They who, so young, have been so near to die—
     Seeming of life but effigy and form.

How fair these girlish faces with closed eyes!
     Passion and strife
Seem far from them. Are these beyond their reach?
Nay, see!—high-cradled at the foot of each,
     A tender, new-born miracle of life!

On slippered feet the nurses to and fro
     Move noiselessly.
A feeble cry!—a sigh half breathed in sleep!
But who is this that vigil here doth keep—
     What presence of august benignity?

O strangely moving vision! I behold
     The Mighty Mother!—
She who, wandering friendless and forlorn,
Sought far and near the child herself had borne,
     Finding nor help nor comfort in another.

Over the weakness here so proven strength,
     She, heavenly,
Bends down; and, lo! the room becomes a shrine
And hallowed altar for a love divine,
     Pure as her love for lost Persephone!
II

IN THE SURGICAL WARD
"He that loveth his life shall lose it"
     Last night a shape of fear
     Came in the silence drear—
          Unlooked-for and unsought—
With stealthy, ghost-like motion drawing near.

     I could not see its face
     In the unlighted place;
          No sound of it I caught;
But, shuddering, I felt its creeping pace.

     A thing too dread to bear,
     I knew that it was there.
          And, my warm blood grown cold,
An icy breathing horror stirred my hair.

     With pain-shut eyes I lay,
     Wishing yet dreading day
          That with strange pangs untold
Should come, my frame to rack in a new way,

     And powerless to free
     Myself, despairingly,
          "From the body of this death,"
I moaned, "Who shall deliver me?"

     Then, all my pulses stirred,
     Awed and amazed, I heard—
          Uttered with calming breath
Distinct and clear, apart from me—a word,

     In far Judæa taught,
     That instant freedom brought,—
          Winging my soul's escape
Through the blest miracle of heavenly thought.

     And in the dreaming dawn,
     Waiting, all fear withdrawn,
          I knew the coward Shape
From out my life forevermore was gone.
"The Hospital" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in part as "In the Maternity Ward" in The Forum (October 1913), and subsequently in both parts in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, October 20, 2017

MY COUNTRY, a poem

BELOVÈD thou hast triumphed everywhere!
     Thou hast outgrown, men say, that selfless Right
     Which bade thee for the weak expend thy might;
And as a giant strong, dost claim thy share
Of earth's rich conquest, and will naught forbear.
     I listen, and behold, with grievèd sight,
     Upon thy beauteous brow a baleful light,
And something sinister, new-written there.

O my belovèd! art thou changed, indeed?
     Remembering thy birth and peerless dower,
     Canst thou thine altars to Compassion find?
Ah, woe if thou deface them! set to feed
     The unappeasèd lust of wealth and power
     That leagues with the oppressors of mankind!
"My Country" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A TOMB IN TUSCANY, a poem

Presumably a poem about the monument of Archpriest Bartolomeo Aragazzi, secretary of Pope Martin V. "Twelve years before his death ... he commissioned Donatello and Michelozzo to make his monument for the parish church of Montepulciano (his native town) at an expense of twenty-four thousand scudi. Such a use of his money corroborates the general opinion that he was as eminent for his vanity as for his poetry and learning." (Tuscan Sculptors Volume I by Charles C. Perkins, 1864)

Tomb of Bartolomeo Aragazzi
Wikimedia Commons
IN Montepulciano fair,—
Long famous for that vintage rare,
Prized by the giver of the vine
       Above all wine,—
There dwelt a man whose years had taught him
To seek, beyond what wealth had brought him,
Something to give his transient name
       A lasting fame.

"For lordly palaces," he said,
"Shall crumble; ay, and bastions dread,
And temples grave and gardens gay
       Become as they;
Each vaunted image of my power
Shall perish like a wayside flower,
And like the hawk my hand hath fed
       Lie waste and dead.

"Wherefore, ere yet my days be spent,
I will uprear a monument
That 'gainst the envious floods of Time
       Shall stand sublime;
My treasures vast shall serve and cherish
An art too heavenly to perish:
A beauty, born of passion pure,
       That shall endure!"

So spake he. . . .  Now he lies asleep;
But near him forms angelic keep
Unwearied watch, and from decay
       Guard him alway:
Rare sculptured forms that blend his story
With Donatello's deathless glory,
And make mankind his debtors be
       Eternally.

For lordly castles, as he said,
Have crumbled; aye, and bastions dread,
And temples grave and gardens gay
       Are now as they:
Each vaunted image of his power
Has perished like a wayside flower,
But living in the art he fed,
       He is not dead!
"A Tomb in Tuscany" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

VAGRANT, a poem

THE love that has no memories and no hope,
     Is like the weed that blossoms for an hour;
     That putting forth its one imperfect flower,
Straightway doth languish.  It can neither cope
     With the strong tempest, nor with the mild power
     Of mellow sunlight, nor with the soft shower.

It has no root in nature, and it dies,
     Leaving no fragrance and no fruit behind;
     And none lament it, nor return to find
Its bed when, beaten low, it bruisèd lies:
     Unfriended, and forsaken of its kind,
     It blows about, at mercy of the wind.
"Vagrant" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898).

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

LOVE, DOST THOU SMILE? a poem

LOVE, dost thou smile, believing thou shalt cheat
The triform Fates, because thou art so sweet?
Thy beauty, which delights and makes afraid,
Shall surely as the rose of autumn fade,
And pain and grief shall find thee, and slow scorn;
     And thou shalt know neglect, and friendship hollow;
And at the last, pale hope, thy light of morn,
     Shall bring thee to a goal where none will follow.

Love, dost thou weep—in all the sorrowing earth,
Thou the one only thing of perfect worth?
Midnight and morn alike to thee belong;
Poor, thou art rich; defenceless, thou art strong;
Upon thy altar burns perpetual fire
     That mounts and flames aloft to heaven's high portal;
Thou quickenest, from evil, pure desire,—
     Triumphant in defeat, in death immortal!
"Love, Dost Thou Smile?" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (October 1905), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, October 16, 2017

OF LOVE, a poem

OF Love the gods require no task,
Content to grant whate'er may ask
     The boy from Venus sprung,—
For howsoever grave his mask,
     They know the lad is young:

Aye, young, indeed! Though, spite of warning,
Often at dusk, all prudence scorning,
     He daring sail unfurls,—
Yet, fragrant still, the breath of morning
     Lingers amid his curls.

What count takes he of days or years?—
E'en pain itself but more endears
     The strange, immortal boy,
Who whilst his eyes o'er-brim with tears,
     Yet keeps the heart of joy!
"Of Love" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (October 1906) and Lyrics of Life (1909).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

SO YOU LOVE ME, a poem

SO you love me, have no care;
Mine will be the strength to dare
Perils that without your love
Greater than my strength might prove.
Never any knight who had
Felt your touch an accolade,
But had grown more brave, more true,
Sweetheart! sweetheart!—
     Loved by you.

In your chalice, my one rose,
All earth's fragrance you enclose;
Through your light, my one, one star,
Heaven draws me from afar.
Easy were it to lay down
All things save your love,—my crown,
And, in dying, life renew,
Sweetheart! sweetheart!—
     Loved by you.
"So You Love Me" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (October 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

AN AMERICAN AT LINCOLN, a poem

THE vast cathedral-crown of the high hill,
     The long, low-vaulted nave, the transepts where
     The light is glory shed through windows rare
In rainbow tintings: glory deep and still,
     Gift of a past forever present there!

Beyond the lantern, the carved Gothic Choir,
     And, as interpreting the hallowed place
     Athrob with harmonies, a boyish face—
English, yet with the look of awed desire
     Which speaks America,—the younger race.

In the half-parted lips without a smile,
     In the whole rapt, impassioned gaze,
     I read the travail of the distant days,
The wistful hunger of the Long Exile—
     The yearning that survives through all delays

I read thy soul, my Country! thou dear Land
     Across the deep and all-dividing sea!
     I read thy soul and theirs who founded thee
With sacrifices few could understand—
     Renouncing and enduring silently.

And I perceived that thou hast still retained
     Their strength to toil, their courage to resist:
     That seeking ardently whate'er they missed,
Thou hast remained—in spite of all, remained—
     That which they made thee—an idealist!

And once again I felt how blest it is
     To hunger and to thirst: anew I saw
     That by eternal high-appointed law,
Sublimity and beauty most are his
     In whom they move the deepest thrill of awe!
"An American at Lincoln" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Book News Monthly (November? 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, October 13, 2017

UNITED, a poem

OUR single lives are circled round
     By an embracing sea;
Are joined to all that has been, bound
     To all that is to be:
The past and future meet and cross,
And in life's ocean is no loss.

The music of the summer dawn,
     The silence of the midnight sky,
The stars, in azure deeps withdrawn,
     Reveal a single mystery:
And blent with these, the whisperings
     Of spirit find each shy retreat,
And link the soul with viewless things,
     In union close and sweet.

Failure itself may count as gain
     In aspiration; paved with fire
May be the path that leads from pain;
     And unfulfilled desire
May kindle that pure flame above
Whose earthly name is love!
"United" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).

Thursday, October 12, 2017

"A Camp in the Adirondacks"


A Camp in the Adirondacks

The Summer Home of Mrs. Florence Earle Coates,
the Philadelphia Poet

PLACES in which literary work that meets with the popular favor is produced, are naturally places to be regarded with curiosity and interest by the many readers to whom the authors of appreciative works have, in a sense at least, become familiar. In looking about us in the literary world we find that almost invariably the homes of authors abound in interesting features. Location, arrangement, decoration—all contribute to a better understanding of the personality which is in them reflected... (read more)

"A Camp in the Adirondacks." Published in Book News Monthly (October 1905) Vol. 24 No. 278 pp. 69-72.

BUFFALO, a poem

McKinley assassination
Wikimedia Commons
On 6 September 1901, President William McKinley was shot and fatally wounded by an anarchist in Buffalo, New York.

SEPTEMBER 6, 1901
 A TRANSIENT city, marvelously fair,—
     Humane, harmonious, yet nobly free,—
     She built for pure delight and memory.
At her command, by lake and garden rare,
Pylon and tower majestic rose in air,
     And sculptured forms of grace and symmetry.
     Then came a thought of God, and, reverently,—
"Let there be Light!" she said; and Light was there.

O miracle of splendor! Who could know
     That Crime, insensate, egoist and blind,
          Destructive, causeless, caring but to smite,
     Would in its dull Cimmerian gropings find
A sudden way to fill those courts with woe,
     And swallow up that radiance in night?

"Buffalo" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Independent (10 October 1901), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


McKINLEY
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 (October 1901).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

IN THE TOWN A WILD BIRD SINGING, a poem

"Hear me, Theresa, Theresa, Theresa!"
HARK! Do I dream? Nay, even now I heard
     The whitethroat's music, tremulous yet clear:
The very plaint, O lonely bird,
That often midst the greening woods hath stirred
     My heart; but never here!

This is the City! High above the street,
     Before my window singing in the dawn,
By what imagination dost thou cheat
Thy hope to utter melody so sweet,
     Far from thy groves withdrawn?

Thy tones transport me, wistful, to the North,
     Seeming to lay a touch upon my brow
     Cool as the balsam-laden airs that now
Through pine-woods blow: they woo my spirit forth—
     Forth of the town—forth of myself. But thou?

Dost thou an exile wander from thy home
     Or art thou hast'ning thither?
Through what beguilement dost thou friendless roam?
     And goest thou—ah, whither?

Day quickly fades, Night may refuse her star,
     Clouds may arise, and elemental strife,—
     Ah, hapless bird! what Wanderlust of life
Betrayed thy wings so far?

Full as my soul of tremulous desires,
     Thy voice I hear in supplication rise.
     "Theresa!" dost thou call? Unto the skies
The plaint, adoring, holily aspires:—
"Theresa!" Is it she keeps watch o'er thee?—
Homeless—but free?

Wise minstrel! Thou dost well to call on her;
No saint was ever lovelier.
Her heart had room for such wide tenderness
     As his who "Little Sister" called the birds,
     And pity, deeper than all words,
Taught her, like him, to bless.

Silent? Where art thou? Lo, the City wakes!
Toil's round begins, and calm the world forsakes.
Thou, too, art gone!—nor evermore shalt come
     Without my window here at dawn to sing.
     Adieu, strange guest! Theresa guide thy wing
Safe to the sweet wild woods that are thy home!
"In the Town a Wild Bird Singing" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (October 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"I LONGED FOR LOVE", a poem

I LONGED for love, and eager to discover
     Its hiding-place, I wandered far and wide;
And as forlorn I sought the lone world over,
     Unrecognized, love journeyed at my side.

I craved for peace, and priceless years expended
     In unrewarded search from shore to shore;
But home returned, the weary seeking ended,
     Peace welcomed me where dwelt my peace of yore!
"I Longed for Love" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (10 October 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, October 9, 2017

THE ORCHESTRAL LEADER, a poem

ALL eyes upon him centred, motionless,
     Yet tensely watchful, vividly aware,
     He stands an instant waiting.  In the air
His mystic wand, uplifted, seems to bless
The Silence, while it calls to readiness
     Forces that overwhelming Silence there,
     Shall in its stead give Sound so sweet and rare
As must its every parting pang redress.

Magician and enchanter, he doth hold
In his fine hand tones, accents, manifold,
     Interpreting the gods to mortal men:
His are the nerves that vitalize the rest;
The central heart of all beats in his breast;
     Through him the very dead revive and speak again.
"The Orchestral Leader" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

Sunday, October 8, 2017

MEDIÆVAL, a poem

SHE said: "My babe is dead:
     Unchristened did he die.
I wake in the long, lone night
     And hear his plaintive cry.

"I wonder does God hear,
     And will not let him in—
My little one who died
     All innocent of sin?

"The wicked, who repent,
     Win heaven, so men say;
And was my bonny child
     Less dear to Him than they?

"There's not a soul in bliss,
     Rejoicing in God's Son,
That's purer or more sweet
     Than was my little one!

"Lowly, at Mary's shrine
     Before the dawn of day
I kneel, for him to plead
     Who was too small to pray

"Ah, mother blessed! bring
     My babe to know the light!
Or, pitying, win for me
     With him to roam the night!"
"Mediæval" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II and as "Medieval" in The Bellman (13 September 1913).

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"EACH AND ALL", a poem

I SAW a soul contended for
     By Evil and by Good;
And watching with solicitude—
     As if my yearning could
Some succor bring—I trembled
     Whiles the tempter was withstood.

Yet, soul—my soul, what meant the strife
     To thee?—what power had
Another's wrong to make thee feel
     Thyself so wronged and sad?
And when at last Good overcame,—
     O why wast thou so glad?
"Each and All" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909).

Friday, October 6, 2017

THE CHRIST OF THE ANDES, a poem

FAR, far the mountain-peak from me
Where lone he stands, with look caressing;
     Yet from the valley, wistfully
     I lift my dreaming eyes, and see
His hand stretched forth in blessing.

     Never bird sings nor blossom blows
Upon that summit chill and breathless
     Where throned he waits amid the snows;
     But from his presence wide outflows
Love that is warm and deathless!

     O Symbol of the great release
From war and strife!—unfailing fountain
     To which we turn for joy's increase,
     Fain would we climb to heights of Peace—
Thy peace upon the mountain!
"The Christ of the Andes" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

DÄI NIPPON, a poem

APART from all,
     "Child of the World's old age,"
Heedful of naught beyond the billowy wall
     That closely girt her island hermitage,
She pondered still with half-averted look,
The early lessons of the great World-book,
     Nor cared to turn the page;

For a strange dread
     Possessed her. To invoke
Aid of her gods she tried,—scarce comforted
     That countless barrier-waves about her broke;
But when with bold command, in Yeddo Bay
A squadron anchored—oh, prodigious day!—
     The Orient awoke!

Though one long blind,
     At first in fruitless quest
Must grope her course, yet, with enlarging mind,
     She quickly clearer saw; and from her breast
Sent forth brave sons—of her new hunger taught—
     Who, one by one returning, to her brought
The Wisdom of the West.

Then earth beheld,
     With awe and wonderment,
Goliath by this stripling nation felled,
     Which—rising by no tedious ascent—
Swift as the upward flight of wind-swept flame,
Leapt from obscurity to dazzling fame,—
     Star of the Orient!

And yet she won
     Sublimer victories,
Who, high enlightened all excess to shun,
     Did not exact remorseless penalties,
Nor force a brave and fallen foe to drain
Humiliation's brimming cup of pain
     Down to the poisoned lees.

In lieu of things
     Ephemeral—less worth,
She full revealed the sweep of her strong wings,
     And gained the suffrage of the grateful earth;
Choosing, as war should from her realms depart,
To give herself to the enduring Art
     That was her own at birth.

Ah, great Japan,—
     Who, staying griefs appalling,
Approved thyself magnanimous to man,—
     The World, that long had felt thy charm enthralling,
Has laid full many laurels on thy brow;
But with a new, diviner accent now
     She hears the East a-calling! 
"Däi Nippon" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Independent (5 October 1905), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IMMORTAL, a poem

LIFE is like a beauteous flower,
     Closing to the world at even,—
Closing for a dreamless hour,
     To unfold, with dawn, on heaven.

Life is like a bird that nests
     Close to earth, no shelter scorning,
Yet, upmounting from her breast,
     Fills the skies with song at morning.
"Immortal" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (October 1894), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

MEMORIA, a poem

Autograph manuscript poem signed
"Memoria" by Florence Earle Coates
IF only in my dreams I may behold you,
     Still hath the day a goal;
If only in my dreams I may enfold you,
     Still hath the night a soul.
Leaden the hours may press upon my spirit,
     Nor one dear pledge redeem,—
I will not chide, so they at last inherit
     And crown me with the rapture of that dream.
Ten thousand blossoms earth's gay gardens cherish;
     One pale, pale rose is mine.
Of frost or blight the rest may quickly perish,—
     Not so that rose divine.
Deathless it blooms in quiet realms Elysian;
     And when toil wins me rest,
Forgetful of all else, in blissful vision
     I breathe my rose, and clasp it to my breast!
"Memoria" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Atlantic Monthly (October 1890), and subsequently in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, October 2, 2017

LIFE, a poem

BEFORE we knew thee thou wert with us; aye,
     In that far time forgotten and obscure
     When, doubtful of ourselves, of naught secure,
     We feebly uttered first our human cry.
We had not murmured hadst thou passed us by,
     And now, with all our vaunted knowledge sure,
     We know not from what source of bounty pure
     Thou camest, our dull clay to glorify.

Yet—for thou didst awake us when but dust,
     Careless of thee—one tender hope redeems
     Each loss by the dark river: more and more
We feel that we who long for thee may trust
     To wake again, as children do from dreams,
     And find thee waiting on the farther shore.
"Life" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (October 1893), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

OCTOBER, a poem

SWEET are the woodland notes
That gush melodious at morn from palpitating throats,
In anthems fresh as dew! Ay, they are sweet!
            But from that dim retreat
Where Evening muses through the pensive hours,
            There sometimes floats along
            A more appealing song.
So, love, thy voice breathes a diviner music in the chill
     Of autumn, when the glen is still
     And Flora's gold all tarnished on the hill,
Than in the time when merry May calls forth her bashful flowers.
"October" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (October 1891), Poems (1898), and Poems (1916) Volume I.

On this day in 1873

Alice N. Trask in 1921
Daughter Alice is born. Alice Earle Nicholson (1873-1955), was "totally deaf for most of her life" (beginning ca. 1910 with three young children). Alice would later become a teacher of lip-reading in San Francisco (circa 1915-1922), and in 1922 founded the Trask School of Lip-Reading in Philadelphia, where she worked and taught until just before her death in 1955.

For a listing of some of Alice' writings in the Volta Review, please visit her author page at Wikisource.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A LOVE-SONG, a poem

THIS is the love-song we today are singing—
     The song of her who, blessing, most is blest:
Giver of dreams that set the soul far winging,
     And bring it home to rest.

This is the song of her, our fount of being,
     The pilot of our hope where'er we go:
Of her—the brave, the patient, the foreseeing—
     To whom our all we owe.

The wronged, oppressed,—what poor, unfriended comer
     Has not, with her, found shelter safe from storm?—
A smile of welcoming as sweet as summer,
     A heart as deep and warm?

Can we have voice today for others' praises,
     When evil and disaster threaten her?
Ah, no! a passion that man's soul upraises,
     New-born in us, doth stir

At thought of her, belov'd, who shows us living
     Is not the mere continuance of breath,
Giving her favored ones a joy of giving,
     Ineffable in death!
"A Love-Song" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (1 December 1917).
Winged Victory in the Court of the Allies,
Philadelphia
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! 
From "Masefield" (1922) by Florence Earle Coates.


OUR LAND, a poem

THE gift of an idealist,
She came of vision, and the dream
Of one who saw beyond vast waters gleam
The light of a new world without a name:
     A gift of Life she came—.
She, the renascence from Earth's ancient woe,
With Raphael born and Michel Angelo.

Noiseless, the patient years went by,
And only red-men cared to roam
Her glorious streams, and call her mountains home.
Then came to her, like pilgrims of the Grail
     Whose courage could not fail,
Others, sad exiles, longing to be free—
Seekers of God and human liberty!

A blessèd, blessèd Land! She gave
Ideals, to mankind unknown,
And toiling, taught a wondering world to own
The dignity of toil, despised before:
     She opened a great Door;
Enlarged the human mind, and made men see
That he who shares his freedom is most free.

Oh, strong and beautiful and brave,—
The Titan-Mother of the West,—
Gathering in her arms and to her breast
The hurt, unfriended, weary, and forlorn,
     Outcast, and alien-born!
How should the unfriended poor beyond the seas
Not yearn to her—the new Hesperides?. . .

Full garners were her toil's reward;
But, laboring, alway she dreams.
Mistake her not! Mid clouds her eagle screams,
Emblem of liberty that nothing bars,
     And on her brow are stars—
Stars whose pure radiance is not all of earth,
Enkindled there where Justice had its birth.

Belovèd Land! Apart, she smiled!
But, oh, more glorious to-day,
Life's Larger Summons eager to obey,
Her strength outpoured to succor and befriend
     A World, wide without end,
She waits—how yearningly!—the hour to come
When laurelled Peace shall lead her heroes home!
"Our Land" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (April 1919).

"Unveiling the Statue of Liberty" (1886)
by Edward Moran

Friday, September 29, 2017

IN MEMORY OF AN AMERICAN SOLDIER, a poem

FALLEN IN FRANCE IN THE GLORIOUS YEAR 1918
HE went singing down to death;
     And the high Gods, who heard him,
Gave something of their breath
     To the melodies that stirred him;
Lending some accents to his dying song
That only to abiding things belong.

His boyish heart had laughed
     For joy of life's completeness—
Life had so brimmed the draught
     It held for him with sweetness;
But when, unlooked for, came the suppliant cry
From tortured Lands, he put the full cup by.

Happy whose soul has wings
     And has the strength to spread them!
Happy whose heart still brings
     Its dreams where truth first led them!
Though he give all, his fellow men to save,
He has a tryst with Life, beyond the grave!

Blithely he took the path
     Appointed him by Duty,
Whose face, viewed nearer, hath
     Such deeps undreamed of beauty,—
Love, hope, ambition—he put all aside,
And for the things that do not perish, died.
               *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Soul, was it tragedy to fall like this?
Oh,  lovely,  lovely,  lovely,  courage  is!
     And death itself may be most sweet,
Though the lips thirst, and empty be the cup,
If won in climbing—climbing up—and up,
     To heights where vision and fulfilment meet:
If won at last, by deeds that glorify
Our lowly dust, where 'neath an alien sky,
Their service unforgot,
They sleep who, loving greatly, faltered not,—
     The happy brave, who never knew defeat!
"In Memory of an American Soldier" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The North American Review (June 1919).




Thursday, September 28, 2017

THEIR VICTORY WON, a poem

WAN-VISAGED Azrael, in a darkened room,
'Mid stifled sobs and pleadings full of fear,
     I first was made to know thy presence drear;
And I supposed thee dweller of a tomb
Where quickly fade all fairest things that bloom:
     All loves, ambitions, dreams, that men hold dear.
     But now, O Death, beholding thee more near,
How changed thy look! how glorified thy gloom!

In the wide Open, 'neath a summer sky,
Bending above thy chosen, where they lie
     Upon the hard-won fields of Victory,
This have they taught me—these so young, so brave,
Who smiling gave their all, the world to save—
     Life is not lovelier than death may be!
"Their Victory Won" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (December 1918).


December 1918 issue of Harper's
In which appears, "Their Victory Won"

On this day in 1872

Florence marries William Nicholson, Jr., son of William Nicholson, Sr. and Susan G. Miller.
William was a member of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Stock Board from 1868 until his early death in 1877.  He had "charge of the board's clearing house in its infancy." ["Death of William Nicholson, Jr." Philadelphia Inquirer 11 Sept. 1877: 2]

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

THE INFANTRY THAT WOULD NOT YIELD, a poem

AH, yes; the French surprise us constantly;
A something in their spirit is so fine!...
I was in Paris when the famous Line
Went through after Verdun, and so could see
How a whole people, putting by its cares,
Came crowding to the well-loved thoroughfares
To view the men—not all—not all, alas!—
Who, in a fateful hour of fear and woe,
Stood as a wall defensive 'gainst the foe,
And said:—They shall not pass!

How surely these had saved her Paris knew—
Heroes who fronting Death turned not aside!
Her heart beat faster as they nearer drew,
And swelled with unimagined love and pride.
Artillery and cavalry went by,—
The plaudits of the people reached the sky!
But for the infantry— At sight of these,
A poignant  silence  fell  upon  the  crowd:
In reverence the people's heads were bowed,
And they were on their knees.

Ah, yes; the French surprise us constantly!
"The Infantry that Would Not Yield" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (14 December 1918).

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

BELGIUM, a poem

Belgium (Mother and Child) (1914) by Charles Webster Hawthorne
as displayed at the World War I and American Art exhibition
at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2016-17)
     I HAD a dream of Greatness; and I saw—
Not one enthroned, before whose golden crown
And jeweled scepter many bowed them down;

     Not one full-armored who, more fearful awe
Inspiring, with war's pestilential breath
Sowed havoc as he moved, despair and death;

     Nay, in my lofty dream, such greatness paled
Before the image of one nobly fair,
Despite torn raiment and disheveled hair,

     The hope within whose eyes had never failed.
Victim of unrelenting Tyranny
That fain would hold her captive, she is free—

     Stronger, I wis, than e'en her tyrants be—
Because of something that hath never died:
Her glorious, tameless soul, grief-crucified!
"Belgium" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (21 September 1918).

Monday, September 25, 2017

SERBIA, a poem

WHEN the heroic deeds that mark our time
     Shall, in far days to come, recorded be,
     Men, much forgetting, shall remember thee,
Thou central martyr of the Monster-Crime,
Who kept thy soul clear of the ooze and slime—
     The quicksands of deceit and perjury—
     A living thing, unconquered still and free,
Through superhuman sacrifice sublime.

O Serbia! amid thy ruins great,
Love is immortal;  there's an end to hate,
     Always there will be dawn, though dark the night.
Look up, thou tragic Glory! Even now,
The thorny round that binds thy bleeding brow
     Is as a crown irradiating light!
"Serbia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in A Treasury of War Poetry (1917).

Sunday, September 24, 2017

CAPTAIN GUYNEMER, a poem

Captain Georges Guynemer
(1894-1917)
WHAT high adventure, in what world afar,
Follows to-day,
Mid ampler air,
Heroic Guynemer?
What star,
Of all the myriad planets of our night,
Is by his glowing presence made more bright
Who chose the Dangerous way,
Scorning, while brave men died, ignobly safe to stay?

Into the unknown Vast,
Where few could follow him, he passed,—
On to the gate—the shadowy gate—
Of the Forbidden,
Seeking the knowledge jealous Fate
Had still so carefully from mortals hidden.
With vision falcon-keen,
His eyes beheld what others had not seen,
And his soul, with as clear a gaze,
Pierced through each clouded maze
Straight to the burning heart of things, and knew
The lying from the true.

A dweller in Immensity,
Of naught afraid,
He saw the havoc Tyranny had made,—
Saw the relentless tide of War's advance,
And high of heart and free,
Vowed his young life to Liberty—
And France!

O Compiègne! be proud of him—thy son,—
The greatest of the eagle brood,—
Who with intrepid soul the foe withstood,
And rests, his victories won!
Mourn not uncomforted, but rather say:—
His wings were broken, but he led the way
Where myriad stronger wings shall follow;
For Wrong shall not hold lasting sway,
To break the World's heart, nor betray
With cruel pledges hollow!

To us the battle draweth near.
We dedicate ourselves again,
Remembering, O Compiègne!
Thy Charioteer—
Thy peerless one, who died to make men free,
And in Man's grateful heart shall live immortally!

"Captain Guynemer" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in A Treasury of War Poetry (1917).

SEDAN, a poem

(The battle of Sedan, ending Sept. 2, 1870, in an overwhelming victory for the Prussians and the capture of the Emperor Napoleon III, was the decisive battle of the Franco-Prussian War.)
HOW terrible the victory
     That undermines the soul!
How better, better far to fail—
     To falter from the goal,
And with a brave acceptance meet
The triumph of a high defeat!

France!—generous Land beloved of all!
     More glorious made through pain,
Sedan beheld thy loss,—not fall,
     And taught how men may gain
Conquests that base desires impart,
Corrupt the will, and rob the heart!
"Sedan" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi), 2 September 1917.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

THE COMRADE, a poem

(Among the soldiers of France there is a widespread and touching belief that at Nancy, Soissons, Ypres and in the Argonne a Form in White has passed unharmed through shot and shell, comforting the wounded and the dying.)
WHO is this in raiment white
     Walks across the field,
Midst the terrors of the fight
     Bears nor sword nor shield,
Stays the dying to defend,
Where can come no other friend.

Who is this of whom they tell,
     Beautiful and grave,
As from Heaven, to this Hell
     Come the hurt to save?—
Bearing them with tenderness,
Where can follow no distress?

Who is this that lifts them up
     As they earthward sink,
Bids them, thirsting, from his cup
     Euthanasia drink,
Opens to their closing eyes
Healing visions of the skies?  * * *

Is it the supreme Desire,
     Answering their need?—
Is it Faith that doth aspire,
     Lifting them, indeed,
Up, beyond all human strife,
To its own immortal life?

Is it Hope, the deathless one,
     To their broken hearts
Whispering of joys begun,
     E'en as life departs;
Hope, the gift of memories
Garnered at the mother's knees?

Is it, Friend and Healer, Thou—
     Vision pure and pale—
Whom men, sorrowing, look on now,
     As they saw the Grail?—
Is it Thou their yearnings greet,
Unimaginably sweet?

On the blood-stained fields of France
     What the dying view
Who can tell? All, all, perchance!
     But this much is true:
There wherever pain has trod
Comes the pitying love of God!
"The Comrade" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Washington Herald (Washington, DC), 14 June 1918.

FOR FRANCE, a poem

SHE had been stricken, sorely, ere this came;
     And now they wrote that he, her boy, was dead—
     Her only one! Through blinding tears she read,
Trying to see what followed his dear name.
     He had died "gloriously," the letter said,
"Guarding the Tricolor from touch of shame
Where raged the battle furious and wild."
     Catching her breath, she stayed despair’s advance.
She was a mother; but, besides—a child
                      Of France!

And after, though remembrance of past years
     Dulled not to her fond vision nor grew dim;
     Though every slightest incident of him
Was treasured in her breast, she shed no tears.
     Her cup was full now, even to the brim,
And for herself she knew nor hopes nor fears.
So, toiling patiently, with noble pride
     And lifted head she met each pitying glance,
She was the mother of a son who died—
                     For France!
"For France" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Patriotic Pieces from the Great War (1918).

Friday, September 22, 2017

A SOLDIER, a poem

DEAR God, I raised my boy to be a soldier;
     I tried to make him strong of will and true;
I told him many a tale of deeds heroic—
     The noblest and the sweetest tales I knew.

In thought, he shared the charge at Balaclava,
     With the Swiss Guard, o'ermastered coward Death,
With Gordon all renounced, with Scott and Peary
     Breathed in his ardent youth heroic breath.

A little lad, he wept for wounded Sidney,
     For Bayard, sans reproche, who knew no fears,
Yet, hurt himself, if one but said,—"My Soldier!"—
     Straightaway he smiled and swallowed down his tears.

I taught him that the brave are full of mercy;
     That gentleness and love to strength belong;
That honour is the only High adventure,
     And goodness the one everlasting song!

And so I raised my boy to be a Soldier:
     A patriot soldier, brave, devoted, free!
And now, and now,—with grateful trust, O Father!
     I give him to my Country and to Thee!
"A Soldier" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (20 July 1918).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

AS THEY LEAVE US, a poem

After the cheers had ceased. Photo by Frank W. Buhler.
BID farewell with pride,
     Show no trace of sorrow;
Smile into their eyes,
      Though your courage borrow;
There will be another day,
     And a time
          To pay!

Gallant is their look,
     But their hearts are tender.
Cry aloud your faith!
     Loyal tribute render!
For they go—the young, the brave—
     Liberty
          To save!

Tell them not of fear;
     Whisper not of sadness;
Overbrim to-day
     With heroic gladness;
Let your love, remembered, shine
     As a light
          Benign!

Simple is their trust,
     But 'tis deep as ocean;
Lofty is their hope,
     Selfless their devotion;
And they go—the young, the brave—
     Liberty
          To save!

Hark!  The bugles call!
     Wave your banners!—cheer them!
Happy, let them dream
     All that's valiant near them!
They will know, when far from you,
     That the dream
          Was true!
"As they Leave Us" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Patriotic Pieces from the Great War (1918).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

LIVE THY LIFE, a poem

LIVE thy life gallantly and undismayed:
Whatever harms may hide within the shade,
Be thou of fear, my spirit! more afraid.

In earthly pathways evil springeth rife;
But dread not thou, too much, or pain or strife
That plunge thee to the greater depths of life!

What though the storm-cloud holds the bolt that sears?
The eagle of the crag, that nothing fears,
Still, still is young after a hundred years!
"Live Thy Life" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (January 1914), Poems (1916) Volume I and Pro Patria (1917).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

THE UNION OF THE FLAGS, a poem

Mayor Smith and Marshal Joffre. Photo by Frank W. Buhler.
The French High Commission visits Philadelphia on 9 May 1917.
May 9, 1917
WE have hung out the flags that we love best—
     The British, the French and our own;
Adoring we see them together,
     That never together were flown!
And we feel in the bond is a blessing
     For every grief to atone.

O flag of my own Land, give welcome!
     Be proud to embrace, fold with fold,
These emblems of service heroic
     Whose measure can never be told:
These banners that speak to the future
     Of honor that shall not grow old!

Across them is ''Sacrifice'' written;
     They voice peoples generous, brave,
Who, suffering all men can suffer
     This side of eternity, gave
Their best with unflinching devotion,
     The wronged and the helpless to save.

They poured out their hearts' blood for freedom;
     They stood in the terrible way,
And bore the full brunt of the onslaught
     That darkened the sun at noonday.
We gaze with dimmed eyes on their Colors,
     Our souls strong for duty as they!

We will stand with high hearts by our Allies,
     With fear of no evil but shame;
We will face coward Death and outface him,
     In Liberty's eloquent name;
For we're of the brood of the Lion
     That Tyranny never could tame!
"The Union of the Flags" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

Monday, September 18, 2017

AMERICA SPEAKS, a poem

From Pro Patria (1917)

AMERICA SPEAKS
"For what avail or plough, or sail,
Or land, or life, if freedom fail?"
WE have been sleeping—dreaming.  Now,
     Thank God! we are awake!
Awake, and ready with a will
     The nobler part to take!
No more shall a pretended Peace
     Our souls from duty sever;
We dedicate our lives to God
     And Liberty—forever!

We, who have looked with anguished eyes
     On things no eye should see,
Beholding all that may be wrought
     By ruthless Tyranny,
Join hands with you, devoted Lands,
     A liberated Nation
That wills to share your sacrifice,
     That knows your exaltation!

A lofty voice has spoken words
     That bring the world relief;
Our Land has joined the league of Right,
     Led onward by her Chief—
Her Chief who large has writ his name
     With Lincoln's in the story
Of that dear land which still may call
     The flag she loves, "Old Glory!"
"America Speaks" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

UNDER THE FLAG, a poem

February 5, 1917
UNDER our own flag, still we will sail her—
     Gallantly sail her, our own Ship of State;
Faiths we have lived by still shall avail her,
     Hope at her prow, wing'd, expectant, elate!

Over the deeps of a perilous ocean,
     Honor compelling, we still will sail on;
Giving, unfearing, a loyal devotion,
     Until, in life—in death, danger is gone.

Deem not that we, whom our fathers before us
     Taught to love freedom and died to make free,
Coward shall fly, while the Heavens are o'er us,
     Craft of the ether or boats under sea.

There is in valor that hearkens to duty—
     Something that dearer may be than long years;
And in man's service may be a beauty
     Higher than glory, and deeper than tears.
"Under the Flag" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

This poem was cited by the Hon. Isaac Siegel in an "Extension of Remarks" in the Appendix to the Congressional Record (Second Session of the 64th Congress of the United States, Vol. LIV) on 2 March 1917, under the heading, "Arming of American Merchant Ships."  Mr. Siegel referenced a February 1917 publishing of the poem from The New York Times, but no specific edition of the Times is given.

On this day in 1787

...delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the final draft of the United States Constitution. An advocate for the protection of liberty and good government practices, George H. Earle, Jr., brother of Florence Earle Coates, reflects:

"At this moment the most stable Government in the world is our own, and it is solely because, in its real essence, it is the most free, in the only sense in which Freedom really exists; where men can act at their own free discretion, restrained only by the necessities of Justice.  If the spirit of the Constitution is to be observed, that great instrument is always self-preserving.  It needs only to be followed to be safeguarded." (1920)

"In the first place, the meaning of the Constitution never varies. It means today exactly what it meant on the day of its adoption. To hold otherwise would destroy the judicial character of the Supreme Court, and make the continuance of our 'unalienable' rights completely uncertain. This has been forcibly stated in South Carolina vs. United States, 199 U. S., at 448: 'The Constitution is a written instrument. As such its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when adopted it means now. * * * Those things which are within its grants of power, when made, are still within them, and those things not within remain still excluded. * * * Any other rule of construction, would abrogate the judicial character of this Court, and make it the mere reflex of the popular opinion or passion of the day.'" (1921)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO THE ALLIES, a poem

IF they tell you that we hold
     Right and wrong are much the same:
     That with equal share of blame
The defender of the fold
     And the ravening wolf we name—
               Don't believe it!

If they tell you that we think,
     When the robber comes by night
     And we see 'neath murderous Might
Innocence unfriended sink,
     We should be "too proud to fight"—
               Don't believe it!

If they tell you we are cold
     When strong men, and maids as brave,
     May not life from bondage save—
We who gave unstinted gold,
     And our heart's blood, for the slave!—
               Don't believe it!

If—O gallant souls and true!—
     If they tell you we judge well
     Ways of Heaven and ways of Hell:
That the honor dear to you
     Also in our souls doth dwell—
               Oh, believe it!

If they tell you our heart's cry:
     That, whate'er the danger near,
     One, one only loss we fear;
And are ready, too, to—die
     For the things that you hold dear—
               Oh, believe it!
"The American People to the Allies" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

The "too proud to fight" reference in the poem refers to the words of President Woodrow Wilson from a speech delivered on 10 May 1915 to 4,000 newly naturalized citizens in Convention Hall, Philadelphia. Mr. Wilson stated that "there is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight ... as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right." Mrs. Coates evidently disagreed with Mr. Wilson on that point.

Friday, September 15, 2017

AMERICA, a poem

PATIENT she is—long-suffering, our Land;
     Wise with the strength of one whose soul in calm
Weighs and considers, and would understand
     Ere it gives way to anger: fearing wrong
Of her own doing more than any planned
     Against her peace by others deemed more strong.

Mother of many children alien born,
     Whom she has gathered into her kind arms,—
Safe-guarding most the weakest, most forlorn,—
     The mother's patience she has learned to know,
Which passes trifles by with smiling scorn—
     The mother's hopefulness, to anger slow.

Yet, oh, beware! nor, over-bold, presume
     Upon a gentleness enlikened with Power!
Her torch still burns, to kindle or consume,
     And 'gainst the time when she must prove her might,
Vast energy is stored in her soul's room—
     Undreamed of strength to battle for the Right!
"America" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917) and in the New York Times Magazine (25 February 1917).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

BETTER TO DIE, a poem

BETTER to die, where gallant men are dying,
     Than to live on with them that basely fly:
Better to fall, the soulless Fates defying,
Than unassailed to wander vainly, trying
     To turn one's face from an accusing sky!

Days matter not, nor years to the  undaunted;
     To live is nothing,—but to nobly live!
The poorest visions of the honor-haunted
Are better worth than pleasure-masks enchanted,
     And they win life who life for others give.

The planets in their watchful course behold them—
     To live is nothing,—but to nobly live!—
For though the Earth with mother-hands remold them,
Though Ocean in his billowy arms enfold them,
     They are as gods, who life to others give!
"Better to Die" is the first poem in Florence Earle Coates' pamphlet of poetry, Pro Patria (1917), created in support of American involvement in WWI. It was also published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


Pro Patria (1917)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

HOW LONG? a poem

     'Tis man's perdition to be safe,
     When for the truth he ought to die." 
How long must we blush for the land of our love—
     We, sons of her honor, who fain would defend her?
How long must we wait, our own manhood to prove,
     While that poor protection she has others lend her?

Oh, heroes there were in the days that are gone,
     Who recked not of danger, who asked but of duty;
Men for whose guidance perpetual shone
     The Patriot Vision, in glorified beauty!

What is our life worth, if life be not living
     Up to the best and the highest we know?
What is life's gain but the glad power of giving,
     To the full measure, the debt that we owe?

God of our fathers, now in our need, hearken!
     Perils that shame us are here at our door;
They who should guide us with tame counsels darken;
     God of our fathers, inspire us once more!
"How Long?" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger (? 1917) and The Wall Street Journal (23 March 1917).

THE BRAVE, a poem

IT is not the desert lonely,
     Nor at the mast-head o'er the wave,
Nor with the climbing fire ascending
     Imperiled life to save,
Nor on the battlefield, that only
     Are found the brave!

Ah, no! Unmarked, pain's passion-flowers,
     Through nights intolerably deep,
They bind in silence; mutely praying—
     Enduring, not to keep
Their watchers wearying through the hours—
     But let them sleep.

Through all the winter chill, ere morning,
     O'er many a frozen trail, I wis,
Fighting their course, that waiting children
     Life's nurture may not miss—
Against the blast they journey, scorning
     As bitter kiss.

From light-towers sending forth at even
     New hope, in place of old despair,
Toiling in mines, in factories toiling—
     But, ah! why seek, why care
To name them o'er? The brave, thank Heaven!
     Are everywhere!
"The Brave" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (April 1915)

'Lottie' Meade
Munitions worker, London
Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

ART AND WAR, a poem

First Day of the St. Mihiel Offensive
George Harding
in Philadelphia in the World War 1914-1919 (1922)
WAR has its field of blood—heart-breaking War—
     Wherein to rule with undisputed sway
     Throughout its own mad, self-exhausting day.
There, where it rashly sacrifices more
Than laboring Time may ever quite restore,
     Shall it amid red welter and decay
     Strive horribly; but let it not essay
To enter where Peace guards the Future's door!

War has nor right, nor privilege, nor part
     In lives high-dedicate the world to bind
Through love and hope and the great dream of Art!
     All Lands to such are Fatherland; they find
In alien realms love's grateful, welcoming heart—
     They, chosen of the Gods to bless mankind!
"Art and War" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (9 Jan 1915) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


As published in The Bellman (9 January 1915)

Monday, September 11, 2017

In remembrance 9/11


HOPE AMIDST UNSETTLED DUST
SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001
The dust never settles it seems, here of late.
Reluctant—we come to accept this: our fate!
Fearful of life too delicate to trod;
Hopeful of eternity in the arms of our God!
"Hope Amidst Unsettled Dust" ©2001 by Sonja N. Bohm.


PEACE-KEEPERS
'Tis for our freedom Christ hath set us free;
     Prince of Peace: born to die upon a tree
     Sacrificing self for all—even for me!
Brothers in arms, peace-keepers all, full cups do toss;
     And, hearing Freedom's call, take up their cross
     Knowing—in His will—suffereth they no loss.
Inviolable?—We would be loathe to forget
     Their sacrifices made, the blood they shed,—
     For evil doth abide here with us yet! 
The duty still is ours: for us to pray
     For those whom He hath chose to lead the way,
     That they might not be moved to lead astray.
In the world ye shall have trouble, Jesus spoke,
     But in Me ye may have peace and rest—and Hope! 
"Peace-keepers" ©2009 by Sonja N. Bohm.

THE GODS REMEMBER, a poem

THE Gods remember always. We forget,
But they forget not: every debt
Howe'er we palter and evade,
Maturing, must be paid.

They pity us, the Gods, but naught forgive,
Lest we, who slowly learn to live—
Children scarce wiser in our age than youth—
Should come to doubt their truth!

Loving the brave who strive and will not yield
Though hurt and fallen on the field,
They teach us not from death to fly,
Lest we, indeed, should die!

For 'tis their will the soul shall rise
Above its earthly agonies:
Triumphant rise, as from the pyre
A Phœnix, winged by fire!
"The Gods Remember" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (October 1916).

Sunday, September 10, 2017

THE KAISER, a poem

Kaiser Wilhelm II
HE stood alone, in sovereignty sublime,
     Uniquely great,—the Kaiser! They that feared,
     Yet honored him, who to the world appeared
Lofty in courage, wise, above his time,
     The Monarch of the hour!—
Using his strength destructive things to bind,
Serving the Fatherland—and, so, mankind,
     Safe-guarding Peace with Power.

He stood alone? How lone today he stands,
     The eyes of all fixed wondering on him!
     His throne ensanguined, his bright ægis dim,
The murderous sword clutched in his lawless hands!
     What spectacle more sad
Than Might by its own folly wounded so?
Are the Gods jealous now, as long ago,
     That thus they make ambitious mortals mad?
"The Kaiser" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Fifes and Drums (1917).

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Poems on Reims Cathedral


RHEIMS
AT THE RUINED CATHEDRAL
COVER your face, Humanity, and weep,
     Considering your sorrow and your shame
Where things are writ to keep the eyes from sleep,—
Where sacrilege and horror records keep
     To blemish your fair name!

Hate here betrayed itself, too blind to see,
     Striking with venom at its own heart's core—
Hate, that destroys with dull barbarity
What Time, though long it toil and patiently,
     May not again—ah, not again restore!

The generations yet unborn shall feel
     This wrong to Beauty, and lament her loss:
Here royal kings, unhappy ghosts, shall steal
Through ruins where no carillon shall peal,
     Nor altar gleam, nor Christ bend from the cross.

And evermore, haunting this woeful shade,
     Clothed in white armor a loved wraith shall come;
And here, where she a King and Nation made,
Shall talk again with angels, unafraid,
     Although her sweet, accusing lips be dumb.
"Rheims" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.


THE SMILE OF REIMS
"The smile," they called her,—"La Sourire"; and fair—
   A sculptured angel on the northern door
   Of the Cathedral's west façade—she wore
Through the long centuries of toil and care
That smile, mysteriously wrought and rare,
   As if she saw brave visions evermore—
   Kings, and an armored Maid who lilies bore,
And all the glories that had once been there.
How like to thee, her undefeated Land!
   Wounded by bursting shells, a little space
      Broken she lay beneath her ancient portal;
But lifted from the earth with trembling hand,
   Victorious, still glowed upon her face
      Thy smile, heroic France, love-given and immortal!
"The Smile of Reims" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (2 June 1917).

On this day in 1877

Husband William Nicholson dies at age 32; the funeral being held at their residence at 3114 N. 19th St. in Philadelphia on Sept. 12th at 3pm. ["Nicholson (obituary)." Philadelphia Inquirer 10 Sept. 1877: p. 5, col. 1] "Mr. Nicholson had been a member of the Stock Board since 1868 ... He had charge of the board's clearing house in its infancy." ["Death of William Nicholson, Jr." Philadelphia Inquirer 11 Sept. 1877]

Friday, September 8, 2017

A RUSSIAN'S PRAYER FOR HIS HORSE, BEFORE GOING INTO BATTLE, a poem

                    A PARAPHRASE
ALSO for these that with us bear
     The heat and burden of the day,
These humble creatures of Thy care,
     O Merciful, we pray.

Their guileless lives they offer, Lord,
     To aid their country in distress.
Grant to their virtue the reward
     Of Thy great tenderness.

Have pity also, Lord, on these—
     On these, so docile, faithful, meek!
We supplicate upon our knees
     For them that cannot speak.
By Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Friends' Intelligencer (25 December 1915) and in Poems (1916) Volume II.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

REQUIEM FOR A YOUNG SOLDIER, a poem

PEACE to-night, heroic spirit!
     Pain is overpast.
All the strife with life is ended;
     You may rest at last.

The devotion that, amazing,
     Welled from out the deep
Of your being, no more needed,
     Quiet you may sleep:

Sleep, who, giving all for others,
     Battled till the victory nigh,
You, too, toil and heart-break over,
     Had the right to die! . . .

We may guard the grave that holds you,
     As a shrine of Truth
Lighted by the pure devotion
     Of your radiant youth;

We, you died for, may forget you!
     You will have no care,
Who, content, to-night are sleeping—
     Painless, dreamless, there!
"Requiem for a Young Soldier" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (November 1915) and in Poems (1916) Volume II.


British soldier paying his respects at the grave of a colleague
near Cape Helles where the Gallipoli landings took place
(19 November 1915)
Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

AN APPEAL, a poem

HARKEN, heroic England! Know how near
     To thy life-citadel the foe has drawn!
Abjure complacent counsels; learn to fear;
For Might that wars 'gainst all thou holdest dear,
     Unstayed, is marching on!

Thou, patient ever, be deceived no more:
     Part with delusive dreams that make less strong!
Behold how bold (a ruthless conqueror),
By night and day comes nearer to thy door
     Intolerable Wrong!

Call upon all thy strength—not later, now!—
     Now while the world waits breathless for thy deed,
That it eternally may disavow
The faith that "Might makes Right," nor bow
     To Savagery's brute creed!

Brave in defence of honor and the word
     Which, given freely, binds and maketh free.
Arm, that the weak and helpless may be heard!—
Yea, that the hearts of men may still be stirred
     To Christ's humanity!

From fields of horror, blood-soaked, eloquent,
     From shrines of beauty, waste and desecrate,
From unoffending lips and innocent,
The cry of anguish and of hope is rent:—
     "England! be not too late!"
"An Appeal" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

IN WAR-TIME, poems

Florence Earle Coates and her husband Edward Hornor Coates were among other Americans delayed in England by the outbreak of war, and on 1 September 1914, they sailed from the port of Southampton, England on the Lapland back to New York City, arriving on 9 September 1914.

IN WAR-TIME
GAZING SEAWARD
BREAKERS that beat against the shore
     With pulsing throb and angry roar
And multitudinous meanings evermore,—
Ye are to me as souls untaught of pain,
     That bent upon a fruitless quest
Still dash themselves 'gainst barrier laws in vain;
     But, oh, beyond your tumult and unrest,
Is Ocean like the Everlasting Will,—
So vast, so deep, so still!
Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.


The Lapland

IN WAR-TIME
AN AMERICAN HOMEWARD BOUND
FURTHER and further we leave the scene
     Of war—and of England's care;
I try to keep my mind serene,—
     But my heart stays there;

For a distant song of pain and wrong
     My spirit doth deep confuse,
And I sit all day on the deck, and long—
     And long for news!

I seem to see them in battle-line—
     Heroes with hearts of gold,
But of their victory a sign
     The Fates withhold;

And the hours too tardy-footed pass,
     The voiceless hush grows dense
Mid the imaginings, alas!
     That feed suspense.

Oh, might I lie on the wind, or fly
     In the wilful sea-bird's track,
Would I hurry on, with a homesick cry,—
     Or hasten back?
Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.