Thursday, January 12, 2017


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

Monday, January 9, 2017


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:
—"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.


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


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.

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...]


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


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.

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.

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,
     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.


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,—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 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.


          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.


     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
     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.


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.


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.


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 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