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


  1. Thanks for sharing these poems. I love her perspective on the human condition. I'd never heard of Coates before, but I'll never forget her now.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment. You have stated in a nutshell precisely why I created and maintain this blog,—and to share in Coates' words how "no good, once given, can be lost."