Tuesday, January 31, 2017

THE NEST, a poem

GLAD is the grove with light,
     And the glen is song-caressed,
But longing comes ere night
     For the one, dear nest!

Far fields may seem more fair,
     And distant hills more blue,—
Still claims that nest my care
     In the dawn—in the dew;

For though the wild may woo
     My wing to many a quest,
Sweet in the dawn and the dew
     Are home and rest!
"The Nest" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (January 1915) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, January 30, 2017

MA BELLE, a poem

THE world is full of charm, ma belle,
     And blithe as you are young;
It echoes with a silver note
     The lispings of your tongue;
It lays upon your fairy hand
     A touch as light as down;
It smiles approval, and, ma belle,
     You have not felt its frown.

The world is very rich, ma belle,
     And all its gifts are yours.
It bows before you, little one,
     And while the mood endures,
With roses, freshly garlanded,
     Your pathway bright adorns;
But roses fade, ma belle, ma belle—
     And there are left the thorns!

To snare your feet, the world, ma belle,
     Has spread a shining net,
What wonder then, believing child,
     If you awhile forget,
Midst suitors who to-night adore,
     And may to-morrow range,
A love that has been always yours—
     A love that cannot change!

What wonder!—still they whisper praise,
     And I have oft reproved;
Of love they speak with eloquence,
     And I have only loved.
Sometimes, alas, I envy them,
     Yet in the days to be,
You may forget them all, ma belle—
     But will remember me!
"Ma Belle" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Ladies' Home Journal (January 1896) and Poems (1898).

Sunday, January 29, 2017

GIFTS, a poem

ONE, in her service, patient wrought,
     Striving a duteous faith to prove;
But at the last, her eyes still sought
     The face of one who gave but love

Grateful, from one she daily drew
     Strength to sustain her failing breath;
But at the last, her spirit knew
     That love is more than life—than death!
"Gifts" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).

Saturday, January 28, 2017

WINTER-SONG, a poem

From the scrapbook of Frances Earle Johnson (sister of Mrs. Coates). Artwork is signed, "Jerry."
Original scan courtesy of Florence Earle Morrisey

TO him who doth remember,
     June evermore is near:
He breathes her rose amid the snows,
     And still he seems to hear
The lark from wintry fields arise
Into the blue of summer skies.

Both April and December
     Time doth to mortals bring,
But in the seed, for future need,
     Eternal waits the Spring;
And there be stars that never set,
For him who knows not to forget.
"Winter-Song" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A NARROW WINDOW, a poem

A NARROW window may let in the light,
A tiny star dispel the gloom of night,
A little deed a mighty wrong set right.

A rose, abloom, may make a desert fair,
A single cloud may darken all the air,
A spark may kindle ruin and despair.

A smile, and there may be an end to strife;
A look of love, and Hate may sheathe the knife
A word—ah, it may be a word of life!
"A Narrow Window" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

SUPPLIANT, a poem

FATHER, I lift my hands to Thee:
     Reject me not!
Mine eyes are blind, I cannot see.
Be Thou the lamp unto my feet,—
Guide to the rock of my retreat;
O Light, my darkness cries to Thee!
     Reject me not!

Father, mine eyes with tears are wet,
     Reject me not!
Though Thou forgive, shall I forget?
Nay, though thy mercy fall like rain,
My spirit still must bear the pain
And burden of a vast regret.
     Reject me not!

To whom, unfriended, should I flee?
     Reject me not!
To whom, my Father, but to Thee?—
Ah! 't was thy child forgave the sin
Of the repentant Magdalen,
And blessed the thief on Calvary!—
     Reject me not!
"Suppliant" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

PILGRIMAGE, a poem

WANDERER from a fading strand
     Unto shadowy shores unknown,
Thou whose sails are onward fanned
By flattering breezes,—hast thou planned
     All thy course alone?

Canst thou tell, now clouds begin
     To gather in thy path of day,
To what harbor thou shalt win,
As the long night closes in
     On a wider way?

Pilgrim, no: I cannot tell.
     Strange my course, and stormy woes
     And darkness may obscure its close;
Yet I feel that all is well,
     For my Pilot knows!  
"Pilgrimage" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) And Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

On this day in 1890

Husband Edward Hornor Coates addresses the Art Club of Philadelphia on "The Academy of the Fine Arts and Its Future." Mr. Coates was president of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) from 1890-1906.

The Academy of the Fine Arts and Its Future. "Art sanctifies the sorrow of the world." These are the words of a poet,—of one whose dearest ambition it was, in the early years of his life, to become a painter. But for us—for those of us who have not the happiness to be either poets or painters, whose lines of life have been cast in a mechanical, a railway, an electrical age—a century which, in its special fields of invention, exploration and scientific conquest, claims to have given to the world more than all the ages preceeding it—what shall be said of art? Read more...

PAFA's Historic Landmark Building in 2011
Photo by Sonja N. Bohm

Monday, January 23, 2017

"To him who found me sleeping, all my soul", a dedicatory poem

TO him who found me sleeping, all my soul
Locked in the dark enchantment of a dream
Of suffering and death: who broke the spell,
And led my faltering steps through twilight paths
Unto the fair, forgotten fields of life,—
To him I dedicate, with timid trust,
Whate'er of worthiest in thought or phrase
May mirror here the visions lent me since.
"To him who found me sleeping, all my soul" by Florence Earle Coates. Dedicatory poem from Poems (1916) in 2 volumes.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

THE MAN-SOUL, a poem

HE made it pure—
More pure than deep-sea water, or the dew
Distilled in mountain hollows: made it true
     As heaven's o'er-arching blue,
Or as that orb that doth the main secure,
The lonely mariner's guiding cynosure.
     He made it sweet
     As lover's lips that meet
For the first time, with tremulous delight;
Or as the tears that more than half requite
Their pain after long parting: made it brave,
     Fearless of wind or wave;
A tameless thing with aspiration filled,
That dares where eagles may not nest, to build!
"The Man-Soul" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1916) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

TO-MORROW, a poem

THE robin chants when the thrush is dumb,
     Snow smooths a bed for the clover,
Life flames anew, and days to come
     Are sweet as the days that are over.

The tide that ebbs by the moon flows back,
     Faith builds on the ruins of sorrow,
The halcyon flutters in winter's track,
     And night makes way for the morrow.

And ever a strain, of joys the sum,
     Sings on in the heart of the lover—
In death sings on—that days to come
     Are sweet as the days that are over!
"To-morrow" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, January 20, 2017

JEAN-FRANÇOIS MILLET, a poem

NOT far from Paris, in fair Fontainebleau,
     A lovely, memory-haunted hamlet lies,
     Whose tender spell makes captive, and defies
Forgetfulness. The peasants come and go,—
Their backs too used to stoop,—and patient sow
     The harvest which their narrow need supplies;
     Even as when, Earth's pathos in his eyes,
Millet dwelt here, companion of their woe.

Loved Barbizon! With thorns, not laurels, crowned,
He looked thy sorrows in the face, and found—
     Vital as seed warm nestled in the sod—
The hidden sweetness at the heart of pain;
Trusting thy sun and dew, thy wind and rain,
     At home with nature, and at one with God!
"Jean-François Millet" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (November 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


The Gleaners (1857)
by Jean-François Millet
Wikimedia Commons
Jean-François Millet died on this day in 1875.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

TO A POET, a poem

GIVE us one dream!—
One swift, authentic vision
Of perfect loveliness to snatch the breath:
One glimpse into unchartered realms elysian
Where never cometh death!

Sing us one song
Whose accent is immortal—
Enduring as the asphodel, the flower
That blooms unfading nigh to Hades' portal:
Sing us one song of power!

Brief, if you will,—
A word of life transforming:
A word hope's wearied vision to restore:
A vital word, our human heart-blood warming,
And . . . you need write no more!
"To a Poet" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume I.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A MAID'S DEFENCE, a poem

'TWERE little to renounce what now I hold:
     A treasure that makes poor, a pomp that tires,
     A vernal glow that kindles autumn fires,
A youth that, wasteful in its haste, grows old;
'T were little to relinquish pleasure doled
     In meagre measure to my swift desires,
     To give what nor delights me nor inspires,
In free exchange for Love's all-prizèd gold;

Yet there is something it were pain to yield,
     Which I should part with, Love, in welcoming thee:
     A shy uncertainty that dearer seems
Than e'en thy gifts, my firm defence and shield:
     The dim ideal of my waking dreams,
     The Love unknown, that distant, beckons me!
"A Maid's Defence" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

WHY DID YOU GO? a poem

Man and Woman on the Beach (1893) and Edwardian Woman on the Beach (1900)
by Thomas Pollock Anshutz
Wikimedia Commons

DEATH called,—but why did you go?
     Did you not know
That life is better than death,
That snatches the breath
Out of joy?—that love is better than death?

     Did you not understand
     How guarded the Land
Where death leads?—that howe'er the heart yearn,
One may never return
     From the gloom
Of that dwelling-place lone that doth hold and entomb?

     O my sweet!
Might I follow your feet,—
Afar from the sun and the bloom-scented air,
     I would open once more
     The inexorable door,
And drink of dark Lethe, your prison to share!
"Why Did You Go?" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, January 16, 2017

LET ME BELIEVE, a poem

LET me believe you, love, or let me die!
     If on your faith I may not rest secure,
     Beyond all chance of peradventure sure,
     Trusting your half-avowals sweet and shy,
As trusts the lark the pallid, dawn-lit sky—
     Then would I rather in some grave obscure
     Repose forlorn, than living on, endure
     A question each dear transport to belie!

It is a pain to thirst and do without,
     A pain to suffer what we deem unjust,
     To win a joy—and lay it in the dust;
But there's a fiercer pain—the pain of doubt;
     From other griefs Death sets the spirit free;
     Doubt steals the light from immortality!
"Let Me Believe" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

"THE SENSE OF TEARS IN MORTAL THINGS", a poem

WHY does great beauty waken in the soul,
     Together with the pleasure it inspires,
     Sadness and inaccessible desires?—
Why, in our joy anticipating dole,
Ask we for lovely things a lasting goal,
     Though knowing well their destiny requires
     That, wasted and consumed by their own fires,
They pay on earth, full soon, Death's heavy toll?

Nay, love! The seed may fail within the sod,
     But beauty fails not; though it seem to die,
     It lights a quenchless torch in Hades' portal:
A gift benignant as a smile of God,
     Through myriad fading forms it mounts on high,
     And at the last creates beauty that is immortal!
"The Sense of Tears in Mortal Things" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Quotation: "False impressions..."

from "Matthew Arnold" in
The Century Magazine, April 1894

RETROSPECT, a poem

HOW had it been, my belovèd,
Had Fate united us sooner,—
In the bright days when our hearts
First dreamed of loving?—

When, a thrice exquisite vision,
Hope, all her lute-strings unbroken,
Smilingly beckoned us on,
Wooed us to follow?—

When our youth, eager, expectant,—
Trusting the north as the south wind,
Hardly, its pulses a-throb,
Staid life's unfolding?

Had I been more to you, dearer,
Bearing my myrtle and roses,
Than, as I came, crowned with rue,
Weighted with sorrow,

Seeing both light and its shadow,
Taught both of truth and illusion,
Knowing earth's rapture and pain,
Sharing earth's travail?

More had I been to you—dearer?...
Deep in my heart a voice answers,
Healing the sense of unworth,
Whispering comfort:—

"Love takes no counsel of prudence;
Wherefore men, timid and doubting,
Marvelling oft at his choice,
Charge him with blindness;

"But—this believe!—not Apollo,
Clothed in his glory celestial,
Bears such a light in his breast
As that which Eros

"Holds in the heart of his darkness,
Guards as a torch never failing,
Given to guide him where waits
His sole desire!"
"Retrospect" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Quotation: "In all art..."

from "Matthew Arnold" in
The Century Magazine, April 1894

THE HERMIT, a poem

The Hermit Thrush
Wikimedia Commons

LISTEN! O listen! 'T is the thrush—God bless him!
     How marvellously sweet the song he sings!
All Nature seems to listen and caress him,
     And Silence even closer folds her wings
Lest she should miss one faintly-throbbing note
Of high-wrought rapture, from that flute-like throat.

The warbling world, itself, is hushed about him;
     No bird essays the amœbean strain:
Each knows the soul of Music—full without him—
     Could bear no more, and rivalry were vain.
So, Daphnis singing in the tamarisk shade,
All things grew silent, of a sound afraid.

The aspens by the lake have ceased to shiver,
     As if the very zephyrs held their breath:
Hearken how, wave on wave, with notes that quiver,
     It rises now—that song of life and death!
"O holy! holy!" Was it Heaven that called
My spirit, by love's ecstasy enthralled?
"The Hermit" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (January 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

THERE'S A SPOT IN THE MOUNTAINS, a poem

Pasted into a copy of Poems (1916) Volume I inscribed by
Mrs. Coates to Amos N. Wilder (brother of Thornton Wilder)
August 30, 1923.

"Camp Elsinore" was the Coates' "spot in the mountains" where they would escape the heat of Philadelphia summers. Located by the Upper St. Regis Lake in the Adirondacks, the environment served as inspiration for much of Florence Earle Coates' nature poetry. Also located nearby was "Camp Katia" and "Camp Cobblestone" (on Spitfire Lake)—owned and built by her brother, George H. Earle, Jr.

THERE'S a spot in the mountains, where the dew, dear,
     Is laden with the odours of the pine,
Where the heavens seem unbounded, and their blue, dear,
     Is deepest where it mirrored seems to shine.

There, at morn and eve, with rapture old and new, dear,
     The thrushes sing their double song divine,
And the melody their voices breathe, of you, dear,
     Speaks ever to this happy heart of mine.

There's a cabin in the mountains, where the fare, dear,
     Is frugal as the cheer of Arden blest;
But contentment sweet and fellowship are there, dear,
     And Love, that makes the feast he honors—best!

There's a lake upon the mountains, where our boat, dear,
     Moves gayly up the stream or down the tide,
Where, amid the scented lily-buds afloat, dear,
     We dream the dream of Eden as we glide!
"There's a Spot in the Mountains" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Book News Monthly (October 1905), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Camp Elsinore
View more images at Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

THE MIRROR, a poem

POET, why wilt thou wander far afield?
     Turn again home! There, also, Nature sings,
     And to thy heart, her magic-mirror, brings
All images of life: thence will she yield
Every emotion in Man's breast concealed:
     Love, hate, ambition,—hope, that heavenward wings,—
     The peasant's toil, the care that waits on kings,—
All, in thy heart's clear crystal, full revealed.

Hast thou forgotten? One there was who turning
     His poet-vision inward, through the years,
Found Falstaff's wit, and Prospero's high yearning,
     Shared Hamlet's doubt, the madness that was Lear's,
Saw Wolsey's pride, and Romeo's passion, burning,—
     Knew Desdemona's truth, and felt her tears!
"The Mirror" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


Study for Mariana in the South (ca. 1897)
by John William Waterhouse
Wikimedia Commons
Keyword: Shakespeare

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TO FRANCE (1894), a poem

MOTHER of Freedom!  Mother and fond nurse!
     Who, from thy mighty loins, with awful throes
     And cries of anguish bore her!  what new woes
Encompass thee?  What long-forgotten curse
Revives to chill thy soul and dull its seeing?
     Veiled are thy falcon-glances, as in death:
     Thou bleedest, France!  and, sobbing, drawest breath,
Sore smitten by the thing thou gavest being!

Is this thine offspring—once so nobly fair
     That at her look were riven human chains,
     And all men blessed thee for thy travail pains?
Behold!  with serpents writhing in her hair
She stands, Medusa-like, the world appalling!
     Her bloodless cheeks bespeak the vampire's lust;
     Her victims fall before her in the dust;
Yet, unappeased, she still would see them falling.

Is this blest Liberty, this treacherous thing
     That hides its venom 'neath a mask of flowers,
     That smites its own defenders, and devours
The hands that feed it?  This whose rancorous sting
Is uncontrolled by reason?  Red and gory,
     The standard it uplifts on land and sea
     Reveals it truly, hell-born Anarchy!
Which borrows for its shame a name of glory.

Freedom disdains the cruel and the base,
     Their praise she deems inexpiable wrong,
     And in the homage of their savage song
She hears the voice of insult and disgrace.
Scorning the ransomed slaves who rule no better
     Than the oppressors they in wrath hurl down,
     Who make the Phrygian cap a despot's crown,
And others with their broken shackles fetter—

She leaves them to the evils they invoke;
     And listening to the voices of the wild,—
     As listens for the mother's voice her child,—
Courting the tempest and the lightning-stroke,
She opens to the void her pinions regal:
     The clouds, the skies, she knows to be her own,
     And rising to the mountain-summits lone,
She rests where rock the eyries of the eagle!
"To France" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine (January 1895) and Poems (1898).

View events from the year 1894 in France at Wikipedia.

Monday, January 9, 2017

KENILWORTH, a poem

Kenilworth Castle, England
Wikimedia Commons
TOWERING above the plain, proud in decay,—
     Her tendriled ivies, like a woman's hair,
     Veiling her hurt and hiding her despair,—
The monument of a departed day,
The shadow of a glory passed away,
     Stands Kenilworth; stripped of her pomp, and bare
     Of all that made her so supremely fair
When Power with Love contended for her sway.
In this wide ruin solemn and serene,
Where moved majestical a virgin queen,
     The peacock struts, his ominous plumes outspread;
And here, where casting an immortal spell
A sad and girlish presence seems to dwell,
     The wild bird nests, and circles overhead.
"Kenilworth" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (January 1900), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Kenilworth is also the title of a novel by Sir Walter Scott published in 1821.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

After the French of Victor Hugo

THE TOMB SAID TO THE ROSE

AFTER THE FRENCH OF VICTOR HUGO
THE tomb said to the rose:
—"With the tears thy leaves enclose,
What makest thou, love's flower?"
The rose said to the tomb:
—"Tell me of all those whom
Death gives into thy power!"

The rose said:—"Tomb, 't is strange,
But these tears of love I change
Into perfumes amber sweet."
The tomb said:—"Plaintive flower,
Of these souls, I make each hour
Angels, for heaven meet!"
"The Tomb Said to the Rose" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

EXALTATION

AFTER THE FRENCH OF VICTOR HUGO
ALONE by the waves, on a starlight night,
No mist on the sea, not a cloud in sight,
     My eyes pierced further than earth's desires;
And nature—all nature, the hills, and the woods,
Seemed to question, with murmur of myriad moods,
     The waves of the sea and the heavenly fires.

And the infinite legion of golden stars
Replied in a chant of harmonious bars,
     Their scintillant crowns seeming earthward to nod;
And the waves, which no puissance can rule or arrest,
Made answer, while curbing the foam of each crest:
     —It is God! it is God! it is God!
"Exaltation" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Weekly (24 September 1910), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


Victor Hugo
Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, January 7, 2017

TO WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, a poem

TELL us of beauty! Touch thy silver lyre
     And bid thy Muse unfold her shining wings!
     Tell us of joy—of those unaging things
Which wither not, nor are consumed by fire,
Things unto which the souls of all aspire!
     Sing us the mystic song thine Erin sings,
     Her poignant dreams, her weird imaginings,
With magic of thy "Land of Heart's Desire!"

Let others hate!—from lips not thine be hurled
Reproaches; since all hate at last must prove
     Abortive, though it triumph for a while.
The gospels that indeed have won the world
Laid their foundations in the strength of love.
     Sing thou, a lover, of thy wave-washed Isle!
"To William Butler Yeats" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Reader (January 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

On this day in 1879

Florence Van Leer Earle Nicholson marries Edward Hornor Coates on this day in 1879 at Christ Church, Philadelphia. Both had lost spouses; Florence in 1877 (Wm. Nicholson, Jr.) and Edward in 1874 (Ella May Potts). Florence had a daughter from her previous marriage, Alice Earle Nicholson.

Christ Church, Philadelphia in 1876
Wikimedia Commons

Friday, January 6, 2017

On Sappho

The Sappho of Bliss Carman

by Florence Earle Coates

The Reader, January 1904: 198-199.

"ALL art," says Schiller, "is dedicated to joy." Surely it was a gift of fortune to receive the name Bliss Carman—a name, in its melodious utterance, suggestive of song; and, through the exercise of faculties as fortunate, that name has now become familiar to all lovers of literature and art. The day has gone by when Mr. Carman's verse required an introduction; for the remnant who care for poetry (at a time when, as Mr. Stedman tells us, the Muse sits neglected in the hemicycle of the arts) care especially for his, and extend to it an appreciative welcome. They realize that the higher order of verse is written to-day—can be written—by few; and that, however careless or indifferent we may be regarding it, poetry is a necessity of our nature, "its object truth, its office to purify the passions." [read more...]

SAPPHO

AS a wan weaver in an attic dim,
Hopeless yet patient, so he may be fed
With scanty store of sorrow-seasoned bread,
Heareth a blithe bird carol over him;
And sees no longer walls and rafters grim,
But rural lanes where little feet are led,
Through springing flowers, fields with clover spread,
Clouds, swan-like, that o'er depths of azure swim;—

So when upon our earth-dulled ear new breaks
Some fragment, Sappho, of thy skyey song,
A noble wonder in our souls awakes;

The deathless Beautiful draws strangely nigh,
And we look up, and marvel how so long
We were content to toil for sordid joys that die.
"Sappho" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (February 1890), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

The Death of Sappho (ca. 1872)
by Gustave Moreau

TO SAPPHO DEAD

HOW glad you must be to lie at rest,
Forgetful of him whom you loved so,
Of him who loved you not:
To leave all the watching and waiting,
The hoping and doubting, behind you—
To know no more of the longing
That burned like a fire at your heart!

How glad you must be to lose yourself—
Utterly, utterly, Sappho,
In sleep that is sleep indeed!—
To turn from the pain and the passion,
The dreams of delight that, on waking,
But mocked you and left you more lonely—
The visions that ever betrayed!

How glad, after all—oh, how glad to forget
The golden one, dread Aphrodite!—
The laughter deceitful and sweet
Wherewith from her own glowing bosom
She gave the red rose that consumed you,
Whose fire only floods all-embracing
Could cool, as they rocked you in sleep!

Hereafter for others her emblem shall bloom:
For others shall be the delusion,
The torturing doubt, the despair;
But you, cradled deep mid the waters,
Naught heeding of ebb-tide or flowing,
Your heart pulsing not with their pulsing,—
You, Sappho, untroubled shall rest.
"To Sappho Dead" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

SAINT THERESA, a poem

Therese von Avila (1615)
by Peter Paul Rubens
WEARY and long the winding way;
     Yet as I fare, to comfort me,
Still o'er and o'er I tell the beads
     Of love's perfected rosary.

The fire that once hath pierced the heart,
     If from above, must upward flame,
Nor falter till it find at last
     The burning fountain whence it came.

O fire of love within my breast—
     O pain that pleads for no surcease—
Fill me with fervor!—more and more,
     Give me thy passion and thy peace!

O love, that mounts to paths of day
     Untraversed by the soaring lark,
O love, through all the silent night
     A lamp to light the boundless dark,

O love, whose dearest pangs I bear,
     This heart—this wounded heart—transform!
That all who seek its shelter may
     There find a refuge safe and warm.

Were there no heaven of high reward,
     Man's service here to crown and bless,
Were there no hell,—I, for love's sake,
     Would toil with ardent willingness.

And if—O Thou that pitiest
     The fallen, lone, and tempest-tost!—
If, Love Divine, Thou wilt but save
     Whom I do love, none shall be lost!
"St. Theresa" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (5 January 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Keywords: Teresa of Avila, Teresa of Jesus

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

TO R. R., a poem: On Rereading the "De Profundis" of Oscar Wilde

Frontispiece from De Profundis (1905)
by Oscar Wilde

TO R. R.

ON REREADING THE "DE PROFUNDIS" OF OSCAR WILDE
HE stood alone, despairing and forsaken:
     Alone he stood, in desolation bare;
From him avenging powers e'en hope had taken:
     He looked,—and thou wast there!

Why hadst thou come?  Not profit, no: nor pleasure,
     Nor any faint desire of selfish gain,
Had moved thee, giving of thy heart's pure treasure,
     To share a culprit's pain.

In that drear place, as thou hadst lonely waited
     To greet with noble friendship one who came
Handcuffed from prison, pointed at, and hated,
     Bowed low in mortal shame,

No thought hadst thou of any special merit,
     So simple, natural, seemed that action fine
Which kept alive, in a despairing spirit,
     The spark of the divine,
And taught a dying soul that love is deathless,
     Even as when its holiest accents fell
Upon a woman's heart who listened, breathless,
     By a Samarian well.
"To R. R." by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (January 1912) and The Unconquered Air (1912).

The following is the passage to which Mrs. Coates' poem refers:
"When I was brought down from my prison to the Court of Bankruptcy, between two policemen, [Robbie] waited in the long dreary corridor that, before the whole crowd, whom an action so sweet and simple hushed into silence, he might gravely raise his hat to me, as, handcuffed and with bowed head, I passed him by. Men have gone to heaven for smaller things than that. It was in this spirit, and with this mode of love, that the saints knelt down to wash the feet of the poor, or stooped to kiss the leper on the cheek. I have never said one single word to him about what he did. I do not know to the present moment whether he is aware that I was even conscious of his action. It is not a thing for which one can render formal thanks in formal words. I store it in the treasure-house of my heart. I keep it there as a secret debt that I am glad to think I can never possibly repay. It is embalmed and kept sweet by the myrrh and cassia of many tears. When wisdom has been profitless to me, philosophy barren, and the proverbs and phrases of those who have sought to give me consolation as dust and ashes in my mouth, the memory of that little, lovely, silent act of love has unsealed for me all the wells of pity: made the desert blossom like a rose, and brought me out of the bitterness of lonely exile into harmony with the wounded, broken, and great heart of the world..."
The Lippincott's issue mistakenly titles the poem "To T. R." but corrects their mistake a month later by stating, "Through a regrettable typographical error, Mrs. Florence Earle Coates's charming poem in the January Lippincott's was wrongfully entitled 'To T. R.' It should have been 'To R. R.,' as those familiar with the incident doubtless recognized."

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Poems of Loss, Grief and Immortality


I KNOW NOT HOW TO FIND THE SPRING

I KNOW not how to find the Spring,
     Though violets are here,
And in the boughs high over me
     The birds are fluting clear;
The magic and the melody,
     The rapture—all are fled,
And could they wake, they would but break
     My heart, now you are dead.
"I know not how to find the Spring" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (March 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

MEMORIA

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), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

HE AND I

HE and I,—and that was all,—
The boundless world had grown so small:
     So small, so narrow in content,
So single in possession sweet,
So personal, so love-complete,
     So still, so eloquent!

He and I,—and Earth made new!
The flowers blossomed for us two,
     And birds, to voice our rapture, sung
Divinely 'neath our northern skies,
As sung the birds in Paradise
     When life and love were young!

He and I,—O aching heart!—
Only a narrow grave apart!
     Yet seeking for his face in vain,
How changed, to me, the world has grown;
How cold it seems, how strange, how lone,
     How infinite in pain!
"He and I" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

MIGHT I RETURN

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

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

MY DREAM

          THOUGH full of care
I tread the round
Of toil in which man's eager life is bound,
I faint not 'neath the load I bear;
For grievous though the burden sometimes be,
               I dream of thee!

          And when, at night,
I lie enwound
In silence that is sweeter than all sound,
The darkness, kindlier than light,
Shuts out the busy world awhile, and free,
               I dream of thee!

          Like to a breath
Of fragrance blown
From some shy blossom, hidden and alone,
Redeeming frost and wintry death,
So ever comes, like scent of bloom to me,
               My dream of thee!

          Like to a star
Amidst the clouds,
When angry tempest hurtles in the shrouds,
And darkling drifts the mariner afar,
So, out of storm and shadow, beams on me
               My dream of thee!
"My Dream" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Smart Set (November 1902), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916 Volume II.

OF FUTURE DAYS

     I DO not ask to know
Whither thy spirit after death shall go;
I only ask that I—where'er thou be—
          May follow thee.

     All torment and regret
Thou, with thy love, couldst teach me to forget;
And heaven—Alas! what hope of heaven for me
          Bereft of thee?

     Nay: faithless doubt and fear
I lose in Him who gave thee to me, dear!
He would not so unite to rend apart,
          Who made the heart!
"Of Future Days" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Reader Magazine (March 1904), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


ONCE IN A STILL, SEQUESTERED PLACE

ONCE in a still, sequestered place
     Where fell a shade, as of approaching death,
A lily drooped upon its wounded stem.
     But, ah, how sweet its breath!

The shadow deepened into night,
     Life flows no longer in the lily's veins;
But there where for a fragrant hour it bloomed,
     A perfume still remains!
"Once in a Still, Sequestered Place" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


SECURE

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.

We know there is no loss—and yet—
     Dismayed, perplexed,—poor dupes of time—
     We see youth stricken ere its prime,
And in our grief forget.
But pitying Nature takes our part:
Slowly she heals the breaking heart,

And Sorrow's self procures us gain;
     For in her steps ascending higher,
We come, at last, where waits nor pain
     Nor unfulfilled desire,—
Finding the path lit from above
That leads from love—to Love!

Nothing is premature with God:
     His are the harvest-time and sowing,
The seedling nestled in the sod,
     The flower in beauty blowing,
The languid ebb, the eager flow,
The pulse of spring, the brooding snow.
"Secure" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Independent (16 February 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

THE MORNING GLORY

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

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

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

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

IMMORTAL

HOW living are the dead!
Enshrined, but not apart,
How safe within the heart
We hold them still—our dead,
Whatever else be fled!

Our constancy is deep
Toward those who lie asleep,
Forgetful of the strain and mortal strife
That are so large a part of this our earthly life.

They are our very own:
From them—from them alone,
Nothing can us estrange—
Nor blight autumnal, no; nor wintry change!

The midnight moments keep
A place for them; and though we wake to weep,
They are beside us: still, in joy, in pain—
In every crucial hour, they come again,
Angelic from above—
Bearing the gifts of blessing and of love—
Until the shadowy path they lonely trod
Becomes for us a bridge that upward leads to God.
"Immortal" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (January 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

AFTER

AFTER the darkness, dawning,
     And stir of the rested wing;
Fresh fragrance from the meadow,
     Fresh hope in everything!

After the winter, springtime,
     And dreams, that flower-like throng;
After the tempest, silence;
     After the silence, song.

After the heat of anger,
     Love that all life enwraps;
After the stress of battle,
     The trumpet sounding "taps."

After despair and doubting,
     A faith without alloy,
God here and over yonder,—
     The end of all things—joy!
"After" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Outlook (24 March 1906), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Keywords: Poem, poems, death, grief, loss, bereavement, hurt, mourning, comfort, hope, healing, loved ones, child

Monday, January 2, 2017

AFTER THE PAINTINGS BY GEORGE F. WATTS

Love and Death (1883)
by G. F. Watts

I

LOVE AND DEATH
A MOMENT, Death!—only a moment more!
     She is my all; have pity! stay thy hand!
     Behold, a fearful suppliant I stand!
Take not away what thou canst not restore!

At thy approach the birds have ceased to sing,
     The roses of my lintel droop and pine,
     The genial sun itself doth coldly shine,
And in thy shadow all seems darkening.

That thou art merciless, as men declare,
     I'll not believe. Thy look is kind, not stern;
     And they who judge thee ill, of me shall learn
To know thee better, Death!—for thou wilt spare!

See, thou art strong! and I am weak—so weak!
     All beings that draw breath at last are thine:
     Thou wilt not covet this sole joy of mine—
Nor to deprive me of its solace seek?

Yet come no nearer! Shouldst thou pass this door,
     My heart that so importunes thee would break.
     Go back a little! for compassion's sake,
Go back! and hither—ah, return no more!

In vain, in vain! O awful Majesty!
     Thy very breath appalls my fluttering heart.
     Invader dread, what strength have I, or art—
What, save my anguish, to oppose 'gainst thee? . . .

Enter! the door is open. Yet thus much
     Let my submission of thy pity earn:
     When through the shaded portal thou return,
On me—me, also, lay thy easeful touch!
Love and Life (1885)
by G. F. Watts

II

LOVE AND LIFE
THY hand I press,
     And am not much afraid:
     Though danger lie in wait in every glade,
Thou, Love, hast might to comfort and caress
My helplessness.

The way is steep;
     But thou wilt soothe its pain;
     And when at last the utmost height we gain,
To the soft shelter of thy wings I'll creep,
And sleep—and sleep.

The way is long;
     But though I wearied be,
     Still gazing upward, I shall gaze on thee;
And thy angelic voice, more sweet than song,
Will make me strong.

Whate'er betide,
     I, Love,—who may not know
     Whence I have journeyed, nor the way I go,—
Am still content to follow at thy side,
O deathless guide!
"After the Paintings by George F. Watts" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Reader (January 1907), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

RENEWAL, a poem

THESE sounds sonorous rolling!
     These vibrant tones and clear!
Listen! The bells are tolling
     The requiem of the year:
The year that dies, as mute it lies
     Mid fallen leaves and sere!

Now by the fading embers
     That on the hearthstone glow,
How sadly one remembers
     The things of long ago:
The wistful things, with flame-bright wings,
     That vanished long ago!

The self-effacing sorrow,
     The generous desire,
The pledges for the morrow,
     Enkindled at this fire!—
Enkindled here, O dying year!
     Where smoulders low thy pyre.

What hope and what ambition,
     What dreams beyond recall!
And look we for fruition,
     To find them ashes all?
Is life the wraith of love—of faith?
     Then let the darkness fall!

The sparks—how fast they dwindle!
     How faint their being glows!
Quickly the fire rekindle—
     Ah, quickly! ere it goes!
Woo living breath from the lips of death!—
     From ashes bring the rose!
              ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·
Kind God! The bells, in gladness!
     The rose of hope hath bloomed!
For, consecrating sadness,
     Life hath its own resumed,
And welcomes here the new-born year—
     A phœnix, unconsumed!

"Renewal" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (December 1903), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.