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.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

STANZA: "THE VOICES OF ALL WATERS", a poem

THE voices of all waters that make moan—
Loudly upbraiding the impassive sky,
Have not the meaning of one human groan,
Have not the pathos of one human sigh;
And neither that blithe strain whereby
The brook doth wintry doubts destroy,
Nor that pure rhapsody the woodland sings,
When Summer to its heart contentment brings,—
Breathes unto Heaven such praise as human joy!
"Stanza" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

THE SUMMER-TIME IS IN THE ROSE, a poem

THE summer-time is in the rose;
     'T is but to breathe once more
The perfume that its leaves enclose
     The summer to restore.
But how should summer bloom for him
     Who must its rose resign?
A winter, changeless in his heart,
     Repeats:—"Not mine!—not mine!"

Ah, sorrowful to give in vain—
     To love when hope is not!
To cover with a smile the pain
     That will not be forgot!
To journey to a living spring
     Of water, welling sweet,—
To long as with a desert thirst,
     Yet turn away the feet!
"The Summer-Time is in the Rose" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

IN MEMORY, a poem

Written in Memory of Eliza Sproat Turner (1826-1903) who died on this day in 1903.

HOW should we think of her as dead
Whose words to many are as daily bread?
How should we deem her gone
Whose help is not, and cannot be, withdrawn?
We do not mourn the orb as set
Whose shining beams are all about us yet!

Ah, no!  They live indeed—the dead
By whose example we are upward led;
Nor was her service vain
Who gave herself—again and yet again—
And when her spirit was most sad,
Healed her deep hurt by making others glad.

She lived to bless: her generous mind
Despaired not of the humblest of her kind
For in her heart was born
Love for the poor, unfriended, and forlorn,
Which, after love's perfected way,
Judged not itself of greater worth than they.

She lived to bless: love made her strong
To widen good, to limit hate and wrong,
To ease the path of woe;
And choosing in the Christ-like way to go,
The future held for her no fear,
Who, self-forgetting, made her heaven—here!
"In Memory" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).

Eliza Sproat Turner
(1826-1903)

Monday, June 19, 2017

BEREFT, a poem

DEATH took away from me my heart's desire,—
     Full suddenly, without a word of warning;
Froze with benumbing touch her body's fire,
     And darkened her young morning.

Death hid her then where she is safe, men say,—
     Imprisoned in a deep-digged grave and hollow,
Where grief and pain may never find a way,
     Nor any torment follow.

Safe!—and because of fear, they deem 't was best
     For her, perchance,—this thing which they call dying,
But cold she could not be against my breast
     As there where she is lying!

Sometimes I dream, with sudden, wild delight,
     That she escapes the cruel bonds that bind her,
And fond I seek through all the throbbing night,
     But never, never find her!

Sometimes—But have the dead then no regrets?—
     Ah, me! I think, though she hath so bereft me,
My loved one cannot be where she forgets
     How lonely she hath left me!
"Bereft" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Reader (June 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

FATHER, a poem

George Hussey Earle, Sr.
Original photo courtesy of Florence Earle Morrisey

HOW should I dream but you were old
     Who seemed so strangely wise?
The truth, had I the truth been told,
     Had filled me with surprise;
But now that you are gone, alas!
     Beyond Death's voiceless sea,
Still, as your birthdays come and pass,
     Younger you grow to me.
"Father" was published in The Independent (15 June 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

CRADLE SONG, a poem

THY heart and mine are one, my dear,
     At dawn and set of sun;
When skies are bright, when days are drear,
     Thy heart and mine are one!

About us move the hapless folk
     Whom paltry things estrange;
The friends that feel their bond a yoke,
     The loves that lightly change;

But thou and I, my bonny child,
     Their dangers blithely shun,
Nor can by folly be beguiled,—
     For thou and I are one!
"Cradle Song" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

BEATRICE BEFORE DEATH, a poem

On rereading Shelley's "Cenci"
THE day, from slumber waking, dawns most fair.
     O Helios!—thou that abhorrest night,
     Canst thou look down with radiance so bright
Upon a world woe-darkened?—look, nor care
What torments 'neath thy glorious beams prepare
     For mortals whom relentless furies blight?
     Some young, perchance, who never knew delight,
Some innocent, who long life's joys to share?

Forgive, O Heaven, if life I still desire!
     There is a thought can make stern Death my friend:
Let me remember what man was my sire—
I shall so long his part in me to fly,
     That with impatience I shall wait my end,
And find it sweet, before I live, to die!
"Beatrice before Death" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Minaret (June 1916) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, June 16, 2017

AN IDLE DITTY, a poem

'TIS I have been waiting to know, dear,
     The day that ye'r ship would come in,
For if I'm to love ye at all, dear,
     I'm thinking it's time to begin.

The mavis is singing hard by, dear,
     The hedges are white wi' the may,
And there's never a cloud i' the sky, dear,
     To hinder a ship on its way.

Ye've told me o' castles a many,
     And though they're but castles in Spain,
I surely were better in any
     Wi' you, than alone wi' my pain!

The mavis that's close to her mate, dear,
     For no castle would part wi' her nest,
And the ship that brings you, though it's late, dear,
     Brings me what is worth all the rest!
"An Idle Ditty" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CHILD-FANCIES, a poem

ASPHODEL

THE children played at naming, every one
     Her favorite blossom, in the mild June even;
When, at the last, the others having done,
     A little maid—her years but numbered seven—

Stood shyly forth and answered in her turn:
     "Pale violets I love,—and love full well
Red poppies, which the elves for torches burn,—
     But for my own I choose—the asphodel."

Indignant stared the children; then they cried—
     Amid their pastime ready still for strife—
"The asphodel! You only choose through pride
     A flower you never saw in all your life!"

Abashed, the culprit hung her pretty head,
     As she accusèd of a crime had been;
Then, bravely, with conviction sweet she said:—
     "But I love best the flower I have not seen!"

Ah, wistful child! Such lonely dreams as thine
     Others have cherished in their hearts, I ween,—
And, grateful for all good, with thee incline
     To love the best the flower they have not seen!

II
GATHERED WILD-FLOWERS

I've brought you some flowers, mother!
     Please look at them, mother, look!
See this one!—and here's another
     I found beside the brook!

They're very warm, for I held them tight;
     You'll want them, I know, to keep,
When they wake again and you see them right,—
     But now they're all asleep.
"Child-Fancies" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

THROUGH THE WINDOW, a poem

THROUGH the window Love looked in
     For an instant only,
And behold!—a little maid
     In the silence lonely.

At his glance, her lily cheek
     Took the tint of roses,
And her lips soft parted, like
     A bud that half uncloses.

Gentle tremors filled her breast,
     And her eyes grew tender
With a something wistful that
     His presence seemed to lend her.

Ah, 't was strange! Love there looked in
     For an instant only,
Yet the lass, so lone before,
     Seemed, methought, less lonely.
"Through the Window" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

TO THE AUTHOR OF "MADAME BUTTERFLY", a poem

ON SEEING THE OPERA

POET, it was your soul created her:
     Yours was the vision lovely and supreme,
     Yours the appealing, high-imagined theme,
That like a breath of attar-rose or myrrh,
Piercing the sense, made Art her worshiper—
     Made heavenly Music long to be, and seem,
     A part of the impassionating dream,
An added accent, beauty to confer.

And Music to that service, as desired,
Brought lofty harmonies—so love inspired—
     And melodies as pure as they are sweet;
Yet 't is the soul of Cio-Cio-San alone,
Untouched by any genius but your own,
     That makes the charm so lasting, so complete.
"To the Author of 'Madame Butterfly'" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912). Also published as "To John Luther Long: On Seeing His Opera 'Madame Butterfly'" in Book News Monthly (Jun 1912).

Monday, June 12, 2017

SONG: "SWEET IS THE BIRTH OF LOVE", a poem

SWEET is the birth of love, and the awaking,
     The bashful dream, the faltering desire,
The vision fair—of all fair things partaking—
     The wonder, the communicable fire:
Sweet is the need to give and to obtain,—
     And sweet love's pain!
"Song: 'Sweet is the Birth of Love'" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

WINGS, a poem

THAT Love has wings the poets say;
White wings where lights and shadows play,
     Swift wings, that sail from shore to shore,
     From sea to sea, or lightly soar
To happy Edens far away.

Where'er they gleam the world grows gay,
December smiles, and rosy May
     With fluttering transport feels once more
          That Love has wings.

But Youth is fond, and hearts are clay,
And faults deceive, and doubts betray,
     And some forget the winning lore
     That drew the blessing to their door,
And learn too late—ah, well-a-day!—
          That Love has wings.
"Wings" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

YOU, a poem

IF you no more should love me?—you?
     It takes my breath, a thought so strange
As that aught earthly could your spirit woo
                    To change!
Remote from doubt, I dwell secure
     In faith all minor faiths above,
So do I trust, so live, in your
     Incomparable love!

I laugh for joy to think how much
     A question would your nature wrong,
Whom Heaven created, with a noble touch,
                    So strong!
Nay; doubt, for me, new born were over.
     You will remain unchanged and true—
Not, not that I am I, my lover,
     But just that you are you!
"You" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Athenaeum (1915) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

On this day in 1886

Mr. and Mrs. Coates host a reception at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Arnold. This was Arnold's second visit to Philadelphia, where he would speak on the topic of "Foreign Education" at the University of Pennsylvania chapel. Coates and Arnold first met in New York—during Arnold's first visit and lecture tour of America—at the home of Andrew Carnegie, "where they formed a lasting friendship." (Notable Women of Pennsylvania (1947)). The tour (which lasted from October 1883 to March 1884) brought Arnold to Philadelphia in December 1883, where he lectured at Association Hall on the topics of the "Doctrine of the Remnant" and on "Emerson.

On this day in 1880

According to an 1880 Census, Florence ("keeps house") is 29 years old, and lives with husband Edward H. Coates ("cotton broaker") and daughter Alice Earle Nicholson Coates (Alice would eventually be adopted by Edward Coates; adoption date unknown). Also living with the Coates' is Edward's mother, Eliza H. Coates, who was 59 years old. "Servants" (from Ireland) are: Hannah Fried (29), Sallie Fried (19), and Alice Oniel (29). (5321 Hancock [now Baynton] St.)

Friday, June 9, 2017

TRUE LOVE, a poem

TRUE love is not a conquest won,
     But a perpetual winning;
A tireless service bravely done
     And ever new-beginning;

Gold will not buy it for to-day
     Nor keep it for to-morrow,
From Pleasure's path it turns away,
     To make its bed with Sorrow.

White, Aphrodite, are thy doves,
     But 'neath their snows are burning,
Undying flames, and he who loves
     Aspires with flame-like yearning:

Aspires unto a far-off bliss
     Whose vision makes him younger,
And moved to rapture by thy kiss,
     Still for thy soul doth hunger!
"True Love" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

On this day in 1900

According to a 1900 Census, Florence was 49 years old, living with her husband Edward H. Coates (Pres., Pennsylvania Acad. Fine Arts).  The Coates' have three "servants": Agness B. Kane (28; b. in Philadelphia), Sarah S. Kane (25; b. in Ireland), and Margaret G. Devlin (33; b. in Ireland). (5321 Baynton Ave. [formerly Hancock St.]; Ward 22, District 512)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

HOW WONDERFUL IS LOVE, a poem

HOW wonderful is love!
More wonderful, I wis,
Than cherry-blossoms are when spring's first kiss
Warms the chill breast of earth,
And gives new birth
To beauty! High above
All miracles—the miracle of love,
Which by its own glad and triumphant power
Brings life to flower.
Oh, love is wonderful!
     More wonderful than is the dew-fed rose
     Whose petals half unclose,
          In welcome of the light,
When first the Dawn comes robed in vesture cool
          Of fragrant, shimmering white!—
More wonderful and strange
Than moonrise, which doth change
Dulness to glory—
Yea, with a touch transforms the mountains hoary,
          And fills the darkling rills with living silver bright!

Not music when it wings
From the far azure where the skylark sings
     Is wonderful as love!—
Not music when it wells
From the enchanted fairy-haunted dells
Where, shrined mid thorn and vine—
     An ecstasy apart,
     Drawn from the life-blood of a breaking heart—
     The nightingale pours forth forever
     The rapture and the pain that naught can sever,
Of love which mortal is, yet knows itself divine!
"How Wonderful is Love" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (June 1910), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"VICTI RESURGUNT", a poem

HEROES with eloquent flags unfurled
     Have trumpeted loudly their just elation,
But the voice that hath sunk to the heart of the world
     Is the voice of renunciation.

It nothing vaunts, nor with idle sound
     Perplexes the currents of human feeling,
But speaks with the accent and note profound
     Of deep unto deep appealing.

And Earth—who worships her victims slain—
     To faith's redeeming doth first awaken,
Recalling who, giving themselves in vain,
     Seemed, even in death, forsaken!
"Victi Resurgunt" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (7 June 1890), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

From Wikisource: ["Victi Resurgunt" (Latin)] "translates as '[those who] had been defeated, are rising again'. It is a partial quotation from Ovid's Amores 1.9.29–30 : 'Victi resurgunt, quosque neges umquam posse iacere, cadunt.' (and the conquered rise again, / And those whom you say never could be brought down, fall.)"

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BEFORE THE HOUR, a poem

UNTIMELY blossom! poor, impatient thing,
     That starting rashly from the sheltering mould
     Bravest the peevish wind and sullen cold,
     Mistaking thine own ardors for the spring!—
Thou to my heart a memory dost bring
     Of hopes once fair like thee, like thee too bold
     To breathe their fragrance, and their flowers unfold,
     That droop'd, of wintry rigors languishing.

Nor birds, nor bees, nor waters murmuring low,
     Nor breezes blown from any Arcady,
     Found they,—earth's welcome waiting to bestow;
Yet sweet, they felt, sweeter than dreams, would be
     The summer they had sought too soon to know,—
     The summer they should never live to see!
"Before the Hour" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (June 1891), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, June 5, 2017

A LOWLY PARABLE, a poem

AT first the birds—so runs the gentle story
     The priest of Buddha to the people told,
     With only feet to bear them o'er the mould,
Hopped to and fro, nor marked the varied glory

Of days and seasons in their wondrous passing;
     Saw not the wintry branches overhead
     By vernal airs revived, engarlanded,
Saw not the clouds, their forms in rivers glassing,

Dreamed not of birch-tree-haunts on lovely islands
     Where sunsets tarry late, as loth to go,—
     Nor ever knew what winds delicious blow
From piny mountain-peaks o'er verdurous highlands.

Now here, now there, absorbed in one endeavor—
     One single aim—poor birds!—the search for food,
     They looked on all which aided that as good,—
Toward any larger goal aspiring never.

But came a morning, strange and unforeboded,
     When from their tiny shoulders started things,
     Feathered atip, which presently were wings,—
Full irksome to the birds, and heavy-loaded.

Impatient of the undesired burden,
     They huddled on the ground, disconsolate,
     While some complained reproachfully:—"Does Fate
Lay on us this new care in lieu of guerdon

"For all that we have done and borne so bravely?
     Is't not enough that oft, through blight and snow,
     We starve—we who from toil no respite know?"
They drooped, they pined; but said the bluebird gravely,

His pretty head with gallant air uplifting:
     "This is indeed a burden which we bear—
     An added burden; yet—O why despair?"—
Then, from one foot to t' other his weight shifting,

He hopped about, in valor growing bolder,
     Till—for new effort new ambition brings—
     He found at last that he could stretch his wings! . . .
Straightway the birds forgot the day grown colder—

Forgot the future's care, the past's privation;
     And when, their fond desires fixed on high,
     They knew—O happy birds!—that they could fly,—
The burden had become their exaltation!
"A Lowly Parable" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909).

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A DESCANT, a poem

WHEN Spring comes tripping o'er the lea
     And grasses start to meet her,
          The bluebird sings
          With quivering wings
     Brief rhapsodies to greet her,
And deems—fond minstrel!—none may be,
The wide world over, blithe as he.

And where the brooklet tinkles by,
     And the yellow-snowdrop dances,
          And windflowers frail
          And bloodroots pale
     Lift up appealing glances,
The flute-voiced meadow-lark on high
Sings, "None on earth is glad as I!"

Laughs Corydon, "Your hearts are bold,
     Yet little ye can measure,
          Poor, silly birds,
          Spring's sweetest words,
     Or guess at my proud pleasure,
When Phyllis comes, and all the wold,
For sudden joy, buds into gold!"
"A Descant" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (June 1890), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

LIMITATION, a poem

AS when the imperial bird, wide-circling, soars
     From his lonely eyrie, towered above the seas
     That wash the wild and rugged Hebrides,
     A force which he unconsciously adores
Bounds the majestic flight that heaven explores,
     And droops his haughty wing; as when the breeze
     Tempts to o'erleap their changeless boundaries
     The waves that tumble foaming to those shores;

So thou, my soul! impatient of restriction,
     With deathless hopes and longings all aglow,
     Aspirest still, and still the stern prediction
Stays thee, as them,—"No further shalt thou go!"
     But, ah! the eagle feels not thine affliction,
     Nor can the broken waves thy disappointment know.
"Limitation" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (June 1888), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

ART, a poem

SHE stood a vision vestureless and fair,
     Glowing the canvas with her orient grace:
     A goddess grave she stood, with such a face
As in Elysium the immortals wear.
But some, unworthy, as they pondered there,
Cold to the marvel of her look divine—
Saw but a form undraped, in Beauty's shrine.

Then she, it seemed, rebuked them: "Old and young
     Have worshiped at the temple where I breathe,
     And deathless laurels, for my sake, enwreathe
The brows of him from whose pure thought I sprung:
Lips consecrate as yours his praise have sung,—
Who neither sued for praise nor courted ease,
But reverently wrought, as from his knees.

"No raiment can the base or mean reclaim,
     And that which sacred is must sacred be,
     Clothed but in rags or robed in modesty.
In the endeavor still is felt the aim:
The workman may by skill exalt his name,
But, toiling fault and failure to redeem,
Cannot create what's loftier than his dream!

"For chaste must be the soul that chastely sees,
     The thought enlightened, and the insight sure
     That separates the pure from the impure;
And who Earth's humblest faith from error frees,
Awakening ideal sympathies,
Uplifts the savage from his kindred sod;
Who shows him beauty speaks to him of God!"
"Art" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (June 1893), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, June 2, 2017

ACHILLES, a poem

WHEN, with a mortal mother's helpless tears,
     Thetis, the silver-footed, to her son
     Revealed the choice in death he might not shun;
The goddess-born, longing for lengthened years
In his own land, with all that life endears—
     Renounced Earth's breathing pleasures new begun,
     And chose to die in youth, each conflict won,
Leaving a fame no blight autumnal sears.

The Argives sleep, the Trojan hosts are dumb,
     And no man knows where Homer's ashes be;
Yet, echoing down the list'ning ages, come—
     E'en to this distant nineteenth century—
The hero's words by warlike Ilium,
     And strengthen others, in their need, and me!
"Achilles" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

AT DUSK, a poem

EARTH, mother dear, I turn at last,
     A homesick child, to thee!
The twilight glow is fading fast,
     And soon I shall be free
To seek the dwelling, dim and vast,
     Where thou awaitest me.

I am so weary, mother dear!
     Thy child, of dual race,
Who gazing past the star-beams clear,
     Sought the Undying's face!
Now I but ask to know thee near,
     To feel thy large embrace!

Tranquil to lie against thy breast—
     Deep source of noiseless springs,
Where hearts are healed, and wounds are dressed,
     And naught or sobs or sings:
Against thy breast to lie at rest—
     A life that folds its wings.

Sometime I may—for who can tell?—
     Awake, no longer tired,
And see the fields of asphodel,
     The dreamed-of, the desired,
And find the heights where He doth dwell,
     To whom my heart aspired!

And then— But peace awaiteth me—
     Thy peace: I feel it near;
The hush, the voiceless mystery,
     The languor without fear!
Enfold me—close; I want but thee!
     But thee, Earth-mother dear!
"At Dusk" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (June 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

BY THE CONEMAUGH, a poem

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

ODE TO SILENCE, a poem

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

REVEILLE, a poem

Adonis (1800, 1806) by Benjamin West
WHAT frolic zephyr through the young leaves plays,
     Scattering fragrance delicate and sweet?
     What impulse new moves Robin to repeat
     To pale Anemone his roundelays?
What winning wonder fills the world with praise
     In this mysterious time? Lo, all things greet
     A loved one, new redeemed from death's defeat—
     A youth whose languid head fair nymphs upraise!

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

On this day in 1900

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

She wore a gown of white satin, trimmed with Duchess lace and satin ribbons. Her bridal veil was of tulle, caught up with orange blossoms, and her bouquet of white sweet peas. The maid of honor was Miss Anna C. Johnson, a daughter of Archdeacon Johnson... [The Times (Philadelphia), 3 June 1900]

Sunday, May 28, 2017

WATER LILIES, a poem

Water Lilies (ca. 1906, printed 1912)
by Adolf de Meyer
from The Met
I GATHERED them—the lilies pure and pale,
     The golden-hearted lilies, virgin fair,
     And in a vase of crystal, placed them where
Their perfumes might unceasingly exhale.
High in my lonely tent above the swale,
     Above the shimmering mere and blossoms there,
     I solaced with their sweetness my despair,
And fed with dews their beauteous petals frail.

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

THE "UNFINISHED" SYMPHONY, a poem

To Carl Pohlig

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

THE MOURNER, a poem

A Figure Weeping over a Grave (1827 or 1829)
by George Richmond
Image from The Met
"'TIS over—all over!" the mourner said.
"My love, in the grave of my love, lies dead:
Barren of bloom as yon wintry tree,
Lifeless and chill, is the heart of me!
"I shall smile no more: a tale that is told
Is the rapture of being.  Now would I were old,
Who wearying years would no longer see
Stretching away unendingly!
"What value has Time?  The last to-morrow
For me will hold but the one, one sorrow
Which, lone, I still shall endure, forlorn
As the bird that, above me, its mate doth mourn."
·            ·            ·            ·            ·            ·
Full wearily wasted the months; and still
Guarding his grief with a constant will,
It chanced that the mourner, one halcyon day,
Wandering sadly the self-same way,
Beheld, half doubting, the wintry tree
A bower of blossom—a thing to see!—
And heard with emotion the sad bird sing:—
"O beauty! O love! O delight!—It is Spring!"
"The Mourner" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (May 1914).

Thursday, May 25, 2017

THE IDEAL, a poem

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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

From the August 1921 issue of The Etude

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

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

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

THOUGH THOU HAST CLIMBED, a poem

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

AN IDLER, a poem

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

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

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

THE FROGS, a poem

A CONCERT IN THE MARSH

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

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

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MAN, THAT WILL NOT BE BEGUILED, a poem

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

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

OLD ST. DAVID'S, a poem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017

THE CHRYSANTHEMUM, a poem

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

JEWEL-WEED, a poem

THOU lonely, dew-wet mountain road,
     Traversed by toiling feet each day,
What rare enchantment maketh thee
     Appear so gay?

Thy sentinels, on either hand
     Rise tamarack, birch, and balsam-fir,
O'er the familiar shrubs that greet
     The wayfarer;

But here's a magic cometh new—
     A joy to gladden thee, indeed:
This passionate out-flowering of
     The jewel-weed,

That now, when days are growing drear,
     As Summer dreams that she is old,
Hangs out a myriad pleasure-bells
     Of mottled gold!

Thine only, these, thou lonely road!
     Though hands that take, and naught restore,
Rob thee of other treasured things,
     Thine these are, for

A fairy, cradled in each bloom,
     To all who pass the charmèd spot
Whispers in warning: "Friend, admire,—
     But touch me not!

"Leave me to blossom where I sprung,
     A joy untarnished shall I seem;
Pluck me, and you dispel the charm
     And blur the dream!"
"Jewel-Weed" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (16 May 1914) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

HYLAS, a poem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

FAIRER THAN VIOLETS ARE, a poem

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

CONSCIENCE, a poem

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

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

THE SONG THAT IS FORGOT, a poem

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

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

MOTHER

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


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

MOTHER

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

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

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

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

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


MOTHER-LOVE

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

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

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


THE ALL-MOTHER

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

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

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


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

PHILISTIA, a poem

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

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

HONOR, a poem

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

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

MASEFIELD, a poem

On re-reading Gallipoli and the Sonnets

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

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

THE CHILD AND THE HEART BEREFT, a poem

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

AMOR CREATOR, a poem

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

LULLABY, a poem

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

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

MUSIC, a poem

THE might of music, and its mystic fire,
     Will from no studied Art alone proceed;
The soul of Orpheus must infuse the lyre,
     The breath of Pan must blow the plaintive reed.


Inscription in a copy of The Unconquered Air (1912)
"for dear Helen / with the constant love of / Florence Earle Coates / Easter 1916"
"Music" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.  A word change was made between versions, with "thrill" becoming "infuse."

Sunday, May 7, 2017

IN THE OFFING, a poem

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

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

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

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

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