Friday, March 31, 2017

IN PATHETIC REMEMBRANCE, a poem

E. N. W.
Author of "David Harum"
A DYING man, so say you, wrote this book?
     Life is abundant here: from every page—
     Cheerful, courageous, philosophic, sage,
With no repining and no backward look—
It flows, as healthful as the mountain brook,
     That gathering scent of grape and saxifrage,
     Makes joyous pastime of its pilgrimage,
Fresh’ning each pebbly bend, each mossy crook.

The story journeys to forgetfulness?
     Truly: yet he who wrote, with failing breath,
     Ennobled human nature; for since he
     Who died in far Samoa by the sea,
There scarce hath come, through failure and success,
     A braver spirit to the gates of death!
"In Pathetic Remembrance" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904).

"E. N. W." is Edward Noyes Westcott. For a LibriVox recording of this poem read by Sonja N. Bohm, visit "In Pathetic Remembrance" at Archive.org.

On this day in 1922

The auctioning of Mrs. Coates' husband's books. From The Publisher's Weekly (1922):

Friday afternoon and evening, March 31st, at 2:30 and 7:30 p. m. A valuable collection of personal association books and first editions of English and American Authors belonging to the Estate of the late Edward Hornor Coates, formerly President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. (No. 1296; Items 808.) Stan V. Henkels, 1304 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. [Auction Calendar]

For more on Mr. Coates, see post "High thought seated in a heart of courtesy"

Thursday, March 30, 2017

PSYCHE, a poem

SOFTLY, with palpitating heart,
She came to where he lay concealed apart.
The lamp she held intensified the gloom
And in the dusk wrought shadowy shapes of doom.

     Her starry eyes
O'er-brimmed with troubled tears,
Her pulses throbbing wildly in her ears,
     She stood beside him where he lay,
Hushed in the deep
Of sweet, unconscious sleep.
     But as she stifled back her sighs
And tried to look upon that cherished form,
Remembrance shook her purpose warm,
     And, chiding, seemed to say,—
"Why seek to solve, why, curious, thus destroy
The mystery of joy?
     What doubt unblest, what faithless fear is this
That tempts to paths none may retrace,
That moves thee, fond one! to unveil the face
     Of bliss?
Is 't not enough to feel it thine?
Like Semele, wouldst gaze on the Divine?
Secret the soul of Rapture dwells;
Love gives, yet jealous tests repels,
Nor will of force be known,
And bashful Beauty viewed too near—is gone."

"Psyche" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1887), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

EURYDICE, a poem

Orpheus and Eurydice (1806)
by Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein-Stub
Wikimedia Commons
I HEAR thy voice!—
     Ah, love, I hear thy voice!
Faint as the sound of distant waters falling,
I hear thy voice above me calling, calling,—
And my imprisoned heart,
Long held from thee apart,
     Responsive thrills, half-tempted to rejoice.

     In Hades though I be,
Where the unnumbered dead abide
In uneventful, sunless eventide,
     I yet live on,—for thou rememberest me!
And like to far-off waters falling,
I hear thee, from the distance, calling,—
     Eurydice! Beloved Eurydice!

     In thy bright world I know,
     The firstlings of the Spring begin to blow:
Moss-violet and saffron daffodil
Their perfumes new distil,
And through the veiled elysian hours,—
Sweeter for wafted scent of citron-flowers,—
     Voices of nightingales soft come and go.

     The halcyon again
     Contented broods beside the quiet main;
The ringdove tells her wound
With throbbing breast, and undulating sound
Which still, thy passion wronging,
Awakes in thee the wilder, lonelier longing.
     And still my buried heart reflects thy pain!

     Of yore I had a dream:
I thought—the awful sentinel asleep—
     Thou, with that lyre divine, supreme,
Which first drew Argo downward to the deep,
     Entering here, where chains are never riven,
     Had with thy golden strain, Apollo given,
Taught Dis, the pitiless, himself, to weep:

     I had a dream of yore:
I thought Love, mightier than Death,
     Wide opened the inexorable door,
And offered me pure draughts of sun-warmed breath.
I saw thy form; trembling, I seemed to follow,—
When, sudden, to these rayless caverns hollow
     Fate caught me back—thee to behold no more!
     .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .       .

     Yet still I wait for thee!
     And thou wilt come!—wilt come—wilt come to me!
The hours delay; I make no moan,—
Apart from thee,—yet not alone,—
Sweeter than far-off music sighing,
I hear thy voice forever crying:—
     "Eurydice!—lost, lost Eurydice!"
"Eurydice" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909), Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1910, as "Che Faro Senza Eurydice!") and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

THE "PENSEUR", a poem

The Musée Rodin (Rodin Museum) in Paris, France was formerly the site of The Sacré Cœur (The Convent of the Sacred Heart), where Florence Earle Coates once attended school. It "was a convent school for young girls run by nuns that fell to the French government as a result of the 'religious orders' law of 1904 which involved the separation of church and state, and prohibited religious orders from teaching." (Wikipedia)

Wikimedia
Auguste Rodin's Le Penseur
Musée Rodin, Paris, France

THE "PENSEUR"

(ON SEEING THE FAMOUS STATUE) 

RODIN'S it was—this vital thing, this Soul,
This striving force imprisoned in clay,
This monster Shape inert, held in control
          By that it doth enshrine:
     Rodin's it was; but, ah, to-day
          It is the world's—and mine!

What mystery here is meant?
Is this Time's great event—
This creature earthward sent
     With subtle might against himself to strive—
          To struggle upward from the brutish thing
          And, ruling the blood's rioting,
     Keep the celestial spark in him alive?

What miracle is meant,
Suggested by this frame relaxed and bent?
What wonders to this Titan are revealed,
Sitting enisled and motionless as if
Lone on some cloud-invested Teneriffe?
Inward and inward still his vision sinks.
What does he here?—He thinks!

Thought is the travail that absorbs him thus;
Himself the workshop, most mysterious,
Wherein are wrought what human strengths there be.
     Detached, aloof, with eyes that seem to stare
          Beyond us and beyond apparent things,
He gazes far into futurity,
And doth with gods unbourned horizons share.
          For thoughts, upborne on never-tiring wings,
     Boldly adventure regions foul and fair:
To Hades sink, then rise to Heaven again,
     Still finding everywhere
The mystic threads whereof are joy and pain
Shaped in the penetralia of the brain!
"The 'Penseur'" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The North American Review (March 1914) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A FAREWELL, a poem

"The utmost for the highest."—Motto of George F. Watts.

AVE! Thou goest from us,
     Apart from us to dwell;
Through sacrifice to find thyself.
     Ave!—but not farewell.

Thou hast dreamed a dream of Leisure;
     Thou hast heard her call thy name,—
The handmaid of enduring Art,
     Who feeds the quenchless flame,—
And after the Ideal
     Thou wistfully would'st fare,
Before whose shrine 't is blest to wait,
     Though ne'er to enter there!

Go forth,—for thou hast willed it,
     Untrammelled as the sea!
To find new forms of loveliness,
     Go forth! Lo, thou art free
To hope, to learn, to listen,
     To be breathed upon, inspired,
To wait on the unhasting gods,
     With soul intent, untired;

Careless of gain or profit,
     Of markets, or applause,
To yield thy heart to Nature's heart,
     To learn her dearer laws;
To gaze beyond the present,—
     From the fleeting view of things,
To lift the vision up and up;
     To feel the growth of wings;

Through love and self-denial,
     To gain at last the goal
That hidden from the vulgar gaze
     Beckons the purer soul;
Naught asking of the moment,
     Content to strive and strive,
Knowing when lesser gods depart,
     The gods themselves arrive!
     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·     ·
Ave! Thou goest from us,
     Apart from us to dwell;
Through sacrifice to find thyself.
     Ave!—but not farewell!
"A Farewell" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

The Sacré Cœur (Sacred Heart) Convent in Paris, France

During the 19th century, convent schools for young girls were established by Madeleine Sophie Barat et al. and run by nuns. Florence Earle Coates attended one such convent school—The Sacred Heart Convent in Paris, France (Rue de Varenne). It was established in 1820, but would eventually fall to the French government as a result of the "religious orders" law in 1904. The law prohibited religious orders from teaching, and the teaching nuns were subsequently banished from France. The site of the convent would eventually become the studio of Auguste Rodin and is the current location of the Rodin Museum.

THE HÔTEL BIRON, PARIS.
Formerly Convent of the Sacred Heart, "The Deserted Mansion," 1910.
in Mother Mabel Digby (1914)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

BEETHOVEN, a poem

Bust statue of Ludwig van Beethoven
by Hugo Hagen. Photographed in 1898.
HE cursed the day that he was born:
     And deaf and desolate,
Resolved, in bitterness forlorn,
     To end his hapless fate.

But as the deeper silence grew,—
     An exile from the throng,
His yearning spirit voices drew
     From inner founts of song;

And he who called unfriendly death
     To calm rebellious strife,
Won from his own despair the breath
     Of an immortal life.
"Beethoven" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SIBERIA, a poem

THE night-wind drives across the leaden skies,
     And fans the brooding earth with icy wings;
     Against the coast loud-booming billows flings,
And soughs through forest-deeps with moaning sighs.
Above the gorge, where snow, deep-fallen lies,
     A softness lending e'en to savage things—
     Above the gelid source of mountain springs,
A solitary eagle, circling, flies.

O pathless woods, O isolating sea,
     O steppes interminable, hopeless, cold,
O grievous distances, imagine ye,
     Imprisoned here, the human soul to hold?
Free, in a dungeon,—as yon falcon free,—
     It soars beyond your ken its loved ones to enfold!
"Siberia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Century Magazine (March 1889), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, March 24, 2017

LONGING, a poem

THE lilacs blossom at the door,
          The early rose
Whispers a promise to her buds,
          And they unclose.

There is a perfume everywhere,
          A breath of song,
A sense of some divine return
          For waiting long.

Who knows but some imprisoned joy
          From bondage breaks,—
Some exiled and enchanted hope
          From dreams awakes?

Who knows but you are coming back
          To comfort me
For all the languor and the pain,
          Persephone?

O come! For one brief spring return,
          Love's tryst to keep;
Then let me share the Stygian fruit,
          The wintry sleep!
"Longing" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poet-lore (January 1898), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


Proserpina with Pomegranate (1882)
by Dante Gabriel Rosetti

Thursday, March 23, 2017

ON A POET TOO EARLY DEAD, a poem

WHEN to the undesired home
     Where you are queen, Persephone,
The Dreamer had untimely come,
Surely, I think for one brief hour
A brightness must have touched your gloom,
And that your yearning must have caught,
From something that his presence brought,
A breath of Enna bloom.

About your throne, so wintry lone,
     O sorrow-veiled Persephone!
I think bright visions, once your own,
Must pale have blossomed into flower:
That there, your home-sick heart to greet,
Narcissus, wraith-like, must have sprung
While memory gave plaintive tongue
To song Sicilian sweet.

If he, who plucked the asphodel,
     Brought you one breath, Persephone,
Of the fair meads you loved so well
And dream of, pensive, hour by hour,—
Oh, tell him, who with shades must live,
Vexed by forlorn regrettings vain,
How mortals, mid earth's greater pain,
May, loving, all forgive!
"On a Poet too early Dead" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

UNPARDONED, a poem

"SOME things I never would forgive!"
     So said you, dear, not knowing
That love is dead unless it live
     All charity bestowing.

O you whose heart love so could brim
In cruel need, learn this of him
     Whose all to you is owing:
The one wrong man can not forgive
     Is the wrong of his own sowing!
"Unpardoned" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Weekly (23 March 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CORA, a poem

I

          WHEN through thy arching aisles,
          O Nature, I perceive
What brooding stillness fills the lonesome choirs
Where, heaven'd late, thy sweet musicians sung;

          What rude benumbing touch
          Strips from reluctant boughs
The languid leaves and bares to common view
The sacred nest,—the mute, expressive nest,

          Whose state defenseless tells
          Of fledgeling treasures flown,—
Then, like the prudent birds, my thoughts take flight,
Winging o'er wintry fields to find the spring.


 II 

          Somewhere on Earth's cold breast
          The dauntless crocus glows,
And fair Narcissus hangs his head and dreams.
There,—laughing, blushing, like a happy bride,

          With tears in her sweet eyes
          To kiss away—shyly
The Maiden comes, and, as she moves along,
The woods and waking wolds intone her praise.

          I, too, where all things tell
          Of Autumn chill and blight,—
I, too, will praise her, ay, with transport hymn
The unforgotten sweetness of the spring.


 III

          How desolate were Man
          If, robbed of dear delight,
He might not with remembrance fond pursue
And find his happiness, and lead it back!

          The mournful Stygian shades
          Were less forlorn than he;
For they have memory, and cannot lose
Bright visions once in conscious bliss possessed!

          Through Hades' wailful halls,
          Bereft of Proserpine,
They pensive glide, yet feel the far, sweet spring,
And seem to breathe lost Enna's distant flowers.
"Cora" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Amos N. Wilder on the "revisioning of the world" after WWI

The passage below is from Amos Wilder's Imagining the Real (1978). In a conversation with Margaret Rigg, Wilder describes the "revisioning of the world" after WWI in religion and the arts.
“…anyone who went to college, as I did, around the 1920’s, lived through World War I and the Depression and all, must have registered a change in outlook. The big change for almost all of us was our reaction against Idealism and Romanticism, whether in art or in religion. With what we had gone through we were initiated into a new outlook and sensibility.

“…What does one make of the turn to abstraction in painting? Anyway, the human image became distorted in art. This was true also of poetry and the novel; they reflected the same influences that gave rise to cubism and surrealism. … it was a transition from an inadequate understanding of man, to a richer, more profound sense of the dynamics of human nature. You had to break up the old simplistic representational idealism, break that up, before you could grasp a deeper humanism…
“But … the new sense of reality that went with [the new movements in the arts], as always with movements and culture, soon could become a fashion and a fad and could become a stereotype. … So it seems to me that the critic or even the ordinary person interested in what is genuinely important often has difficulty in distinguishing between the authentic and the imitative or the spurious.”
During WWI, Wilder volunteered in the Ambulance Field Service, and subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Field Artillery in 1917. He graduated from Yale University in 1920, and in 1923, published a volume of poetry entitled Battle-Retrospect (the work winning the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition for that year). According to a letter from Florence Earle Coates to Wilder in January of 1924, Coates had received a copy of the book and was "charmed by new and eloquent lines," offering only the criticism and suggestion that he refrain from using "too many rare and aristocratic words." Wilder would become an ordained minister (1926), and subsequently Professor of Divinity at Harvard University in 1954.
Letters from Florence Earle Coates to
Amos Niven Wilder courtesy of
Wilder's son, Amos Tappan Wilder
Amos N. Wilder was older brother to American playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder. See more about the connection between Wilder and Florence Earle Coates at Amos N. Wilder on Hope and Mrs. Coates.


THE RETURN OF PROSERPINE, a poem

The Return of Persephone (1891)
by Frederic Leighton
TO welcome her the Mother wakes
     The myriad music of her rills,
And trims the border of her lakes
     With sun-lit daffodils:
Softly she counterpanes the leas,
     With primrose-bloom bedecks the vales,
     While answering her wooing gales
Come ruby-pied anemones;
And as her wintry doubts depart,
     And brightening hopes foretell the morrow,
Such happiness o'erflows her heart
     There 's left no room for sorrow!
"The Return of Proserpine" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

INVIOLABLE, a poem

"And shall not Loveliness be loved for ever?"—Euripides
WHEN I hear men discoursing idle things,
     Who "beauty and corruption" would unite—
     As who should say: "Now call we darkness bright!"
My wondering soul more passionately clings
To every image, every strain that sings
     Of beauty—still, ah, still the world's delight!—
     More valuing that bloom which knows not blight,
To which no touch of Time defacement brings.

From rocky Chios, from sweet Avon's side,
     From Athens, Sicily—our earth to bless—
     From each dear Land where Joy hath dwelt with Truth,
It comes adown Time's inexhausted tide
     In myriad form, the ancient Loveliness,
     Wearing its glory of immortal youth!
"Inviolable" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Athenaeum (21 March 1914) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, March 20, 2017

PERSEPHONE, a poem

THE wild bird's first exultant strain
     Says,—"Winter is over—over!"
And spring returns to the world again,
     With breath as of lilac and clover.

With a certain soft, appealing grace
     (Surely some sorrow hath kissed her!)
She gives to our vision her girlish face,
     And we know how we've missed her—missed her!

For on a day she went away,
     Long ere the leaves were falling,
And came no more for the whitethroat's lay,
     Or the pewee's plaintive calling.

In tender tints on her broidered shoon
     Blossomed the leaves of the myrtle,
And silky buds of the darling June
     Were gathered up in her kirtle;

And fair, fair, fair, in her sunlit hair
     Were violets intertwining,
That seemed more fresh and unfading there
     Than with dewdrops on them shining!

She hid them all in her dim retreat;
     But, heart! a truce to sighing;
She's here—incomparably sweet,
     Unchanging and undying!

We see her brow, and we rejoice,
     Her cheek, as it pales and flushes,
We hear once more in her thrilling voice
     The note of the woodland thrushes;

And through her lashes, tear-empearled,
     A mystic light is breaking,
And all the love of the whole wide world
     Seems in her eyes awaking!
"Persephone" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (April 1901), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


Wikimedia Commons

O GIORNO FELICE!

MY store is spent; I am fain to borrow:
     Give me to drink of a vintage fine!
Pour me a draught—a draught of To-morrow,
     Brimming and fresh from a rock-cool shrine:
Nectar of earth,
For the longing and dearth
Of a heart still young,
That waiteth and waiteth a song unsung!

Glad be the strain!
In the cup pour no pain:
Leave at the brim not a taste of sorrow!
     Spring would I sing! For the bird flies free,
     The sap is astir in the oldest tree,
And the Maiden weaves,
Mid a laughter of leaves,
     The bud and the blossom of joys to be! . . .

Ay, Winter took all;
But I heard the Spring call,
And my heart, denied,
With a rapturous shiver—
Like that that makes eager the pulse of the river
     When something at last tells it Winter is past—
Awoke at the sound of her voice, and replied.
     A libation to Spring!—ah, quickly! pour fast!
She is there! She is here!—in the sky—on the sea—
In the Morning-Land waiting my heart and me!
"O Giorno Felice!" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (July 1912), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

DIVINATION, a poem

HOW do you know the Spring is nigh,
          Heart, my heart?
Is it a something in the sky?
Is it a perfume wafted by?
Or is it your own longing's cry—
          Heart, my heart?

Oh, yes, I know you 've ways to tell,
          Heart, my heart,
When Spring released from Winter's spell
Sows amaranth and asphodel:
Ways tender and impalpable,
          Heart, my heart:

Signs that have never yet betrayed,
          Heart, my heart:—
The bluebird's note in a leafless glade,
An answering rapture, half afraid,
The dream-filled eyes of a shy, sweet maid,—
          Heart, my heart!
"Divination" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH, a poem


1836-1907
WE celebrate with pomp and pride
     A Cromwell or a Wellington;
We venerate who, self-denied,
     Earth's higher victories have won;
But through the all-remembering years,
We love who give us smiles and tears.

The voice that charmed us may grow still,
     The poet cease to weave his spell:
Ascended to the skyey hill
     Remote, where the immortals dwell,—
Time to our thought but more endears
     Who gave us smiles and gave us tears.
"Thomas Bailey Aldrich" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Writer (April 1907) and Lyrics of Life (1909).

Saturday, March 18, 2017

THE CLOUDS, a poem

THE clouds give back to earth again
     The moisture they absorb;
An atom floating in the sun
     Is lasting as an orb.

We fear lest ill should fly itself,
     And wrong at last prevail:
Lest good should lack its just reward
     And light untimely fail:

We falter, and distrust the fate
     We may not understand,
Interrogate the oracle,
     When God is close at hand.

And still the clouds go drifting by,
     Or fall in fruitful rain;
High over us the stars, undimmed,
     Benignant shine again;

And from that temple, viewless, vast,
     Where failure is unknown,
The Father of existences
     Keeps watch above his own.
"The Clouds" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Friday, March 17, 2017

INDIAN-PIPE, a poem


IN the heart of the forest arising,
     Slim, ghostly, and fair,
Ethereal offspring of moisture,
     Of earth and of air;
With slender stems anchored together
     Where first they uncurl,
Each tipped with its exquisite lily
     Of mother-of-pearl;
Mid the pine-needles, closely enwoven
     Its roots to embale,—
The Indian-pipe of the woodland,
     Thrice lovely and frail!

Is this but an earth-springing fungus—
     This darling of Fate
Which out of the mouldering darkness
     Such light can create?
Or is it the spirit of Beauty,
     Here drawn by love's lure
To give to the forest a something
     Unearthy and pure:
To crystallize dewdrop and balsam
     And dryad-lisped words
And starbeam and moonrise and rapture
     And song of wild birds?
"Indian-Pipe" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (March 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

DAPHNIS, a poem

HAIL, Solitude! hail, maiden coy and sweet!
The vesper veil descends,—hail, nymph discreet!
We would awhile forget the din and roar
Of feverous life, contending evermore,—
     Lead to thy hush'd retreat!

Where shall we find thee, who desire thee so?
Where 'midst the lengthening shadows dost thou go?
Where slumberest thou when stars the night adorn?
     Where glide thy feet at morn?

Seek they that rugged promontory
Where Athos towers lone above the sea?
Stray they where 'gainst the mountains hoary
Axenos moaning beats incessantly?
Or all the day in some shy sylvan nook,
Where cowslips pale and daffadillies blow,
Tread they the mellow turf, or weedy brook
Whose wimpling waters prattle as they flow?

Goddess with breath of balm,
What dear contentments nestle in thy calm!
The leveret and the fawn pursue
Thy paths through coverts dim, the halcyon blue,
By seas Ægean, grieved remembrance heals.
     As she thy joyance feels,
And far below the merry-twinkling waves,
Bright Thetis breathes thy praise in orient caves.

And here, in this delightful wood,
Where saucy elves and winsome fairies bide,
We, also, would draw near thee, Solitude,
     And lay our cares aside:
Draw near thee, nymph demure, and drain,
From flowery cups that know no touch profane,
The dews, delicious brimming,
     Recline where poppies, purple-hued,
Droop low in lovely lassitude,
While belted bees in amorous mood
O'er thymy beds are swimming,
Or musing 'neath some drowsy hemlock, gain
The sweet Morphæan anodyne for pain.

Long, long ago, to such seclusion—
Filled with accusing shame and grieved confusion—
Life's noontide dark, its promise dead,
The youthful Daphnis fled.
Child of the God, ill could he brook
That curious eyes should gaping look
     Upon the sightless face,
Where, deeply written, burned his deep disgrace.
Fearful of wrongs he could not see,
He brought his bruisèd heart to thee.

And thou with solemn stillness didst caress him.
Forbearing to afflict with comfort crude,
Mistimed advice or cheap solicitude,
Thou with thy mild tranquillity didst bless him.
Thou didst not proffer fond, unmeaning words;
But whisperings of leaves, and notes of birds,
And breathings of fresh flowers; things which stole
Through the unlighted chambers of his soul,
And made him—how, he knew not—less alone.
Like dreams that come where misery hath slept,
Recalling tender hopes and pleasures flown,
     He welcomed them, and wept.

Then with unsteady hand from out his breast
He drew the pipe of Pan—the reedy flute
That long neglected in inglorious rest,
Dark, like his vision, lay there cold and mute.
Up to his quivering lips he raised it slowly;
A moment paused, then blew a fainting strain:
His rigid brow relaxed, his head drooped lowly,
He felt the old, the sweet, immortal pain!
Again the mellow, melting notes he tried,—
Again meek Echo caught her breath and sighed.

Then freer, stronger, lovelier grew the lay;
Uncertain fears fled guiltily away;
The lilies, listening, paled, the breeze grew whist,
The violets flushed to deeper amethyst,
The restless Hours, departing, longed to stay.
And he forgot his melancholy state,
Fair Nomia's blissful love and fatal hate,—
In the rapt exaltation of his mind,
Forgot that he was blind;
And poured that moving music in thine ear,
Which still Sicilian shepherds in the dawn
And deepening twilight, from some balmy lawn
Or grove of Ætna, fondly think they hear.
"Daphnis" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Pan and Daphnis
Wikimedia Commons

An aside, for Women's History Month: Emily Victoria Greer (1895-1972)

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of American involvement in WW1, and 16 March 2017 marks the 98th anniversary of the formation of the American Legion. My husband's great-grandmother Emily Victoria Greer (1895-1972) enrolled in the United States Navy as Yeoman 3 Class on 28 May 1918, and served at the Navy Yard in NYC from 31 May 1918 until 11 November 1918. Her inactive duty date (as Yeoman 2 Class) was 31 July 1919. She then became a lifetime member of the American Legion, joining the First Women's Post No. 2 American Legion in Brooklyn, NY in 1919. She would go on to become Commander of American Legion Post 43, and was chosen "Mrs. Legionnaire" in 1947 during her tenure. Credit and thanks to Uncle John for the photos & history!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A LITTLE SONG, a poem

ROSES are but for a day,
     Amaranths endure for ever;
Joys there be that fade away,
     Dreams that perish never;
But, whate'er the future's holding,—
Crown of all, all else enfolding,—
          Love lives on!

Well they know, who with content
     Hear his oft-repeated story,
How to earthly glooms are lent
     Reflexes of glory!
Rapture's first and final giver,
Star of Charon's rayless river,—
          Love lives on!
"A Little Song" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

BASE-BORN, a poem

MY parents had great joy, I wis,
     Of their young days of love.
In thought they were as deathless gods,
     Mere human laws above:
As deathless gods! But I?—alas!
     Of joy what can I tell?
Who am but as a broken vase
     Beside a brimming well.

My parents in each other's eyes
     Beheld the heavenly stars,
And found in one another's arms
     The bliss that heaven unbars:
They vowed when pleasure filled the cup
     None should resist its spell:
They quaffed,—and emptied me of joy,
     Beside life's brimming well!
"Base-Born" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, March 13, 2017

FRITZ SCHEEL, a poem

A TRIBUTE
HE gave his life to Music,—gave—
     For love, not hire,—himself denying;
His body rests, o'erwearied, in the grave,
     But Music lives and gives him life undying.

In the deep silence, may he hear
     Such harmonies as he could wake,
And O, may some faint accents reach his ear
     From the great City's heart that sorrows for his sake!
"Fritz Scheel" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Book News Monthly (? 1907) and in Lyrics of Life (1909).

Fritz Scheel was "a German conductor, and the first musical director of the Philadelphia Orchestra." (Wikipedia) He was born 7 November 1852 and died 13 March 1907.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

AT THE SARAH-BERNHARDT THEATRE, a poem


NOTHING that man's creative mind hath wrought
     Is wholly foreign to the mind of man:
     He looks before and after; in his span
Of life infinities of life are caught,—
Brooding, mysterious, and travail-fraught,—
     And near and distant answer, as they can,
     Enkindled at the flame Promethean
Of world-embracing, heaven-illumined Thought!

Last night a woman played in Paris here
     The rôle of Hamlet, each distinctive grace,
     By genius all-subduing and sublime,
     Made native in an alien land and time,—
As though she, listening with accustomed ear,
     Had learned of English Shakespeare, face to face!
"At The Sarah-Bernhardt Theatre" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1901), Mine and Thine (1904) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

On this day in 1901


On this day in 1901, Andrew Carnegie begins building public libraries. It was at the home of Andrew Carnegie between 1883 and 1884 that Florence Earle Coates first met Matthew Arnoldduring Arnold's first visit to, and lecture tour of, America.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Inscriptions to Lady Agnes Macdonell

Inscriptions to Lady Agnes Macdonell, author of Quaker Cousins (1879) in 3 vols., et. al. and wife of Sir John Macdonell, KCB ("Slubby"). Reinscribed from Margaret Rachel Bruce Alder (daughter of Lady Macdonell) to what appears to be "Mildred Yarnall Garrison", who was married to Frank Wright Garrison, grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Margaret Alder ("Shibby") and her husband Charles were correspondents of Frank Garrison.

In Mine and Thine

In Lyrics of Life

A DÉBUTANTE, a poem

             AT last, for weariness,
She slept, yet breathed in dreams a fragrance of success
     Sweeter to her desires than cooling showers,
     Than honey hived in flowers,
Or than those notes which ere the night is done,
Are shyly fluted forth in worship of the sun.
             The longed-for prize
     Her own, again she heard delighted plaudits rise,
     Again her conquest read in beaming eyes,
And scanned each upturned face, and missed but one!

             "O love," she, dreaming, sighed,—
In joy grown sudden sad, and lonely in her pride,—
     "O love, dost thou, of all the world, not care
     These triumphs dear to share?
Dost thou, who sued in griefs to bear a part,
Who lightened discontent, and soothed with heavenly art,
             Forbearing blame—
     Remove when all besides with praises speak my name?"
     Distinct, yet as from far, the answer came:
"Love still demands an undivided heart!"
"A Débutante" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1890) and Poems (1898).

Friday, March 10, 2017

THROUGH THE RUSHES, a poem

THROUGH the rushes by the river
     Runs a drowsy tremor sweet,
And the waters stir and shiver
     In the darkness at their feet;
From the sombre east up-stealing,
Gradual, with slow revealing,
Comes the dawn, and with a sigh
          Night goes by.

Here and there, to mildest wooing,
     Folded buds are open-blown;
And the drops their leaves bedewing,
     Like to seed-pearls thickly sown,
Sinking, with the blessing olden,
Deep into each calyx golden,
A supreme behest obey,
          Then melt away.

And while robes of splendor trailing,
     Fitly deck the glowing morn,
And a fragrance, fresh exhaling,
     Greets her loveliness new-born,
Midst divine melodic voicings,
Midst delicious mute rejoicings,
Strong as when the worlds began,
          Awakens Pan!
"Through the Rushes" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Atlantic Monthly (March 1892), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

On Twitter @WorldsAspire

Promoting Hope through the poetry of Florence Earle Coates, The FEC Project is now tweeting at Twitter @WorldsAspire



A ROSE, a poem

A SINGLE rose in yonder ruined bed
Makes beauty where all beauty else had fled;
Like love, which, careless or of time or death,
     About earth's shattered hopes its tendrils wreathing,
     Blooms in the wilderness, divinely breathing,
Till all around grows fragrant with its breath.
"A Rose" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1893), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

AFTER THE PLAY, a poem

YOU say I'm dying! It is so, I think:
All pain has left me, and I seem to sink—
A child, content, back to the Mother's breast.
Life grew full sweet of late,—but death is best.

I wanted just this one last quiet hour
To tell you how hope grew fruition's flower,—
Giving me, in a moment, bliss to know,
Beyond what tranquil ages might bestow.

You must not weep, my friend! Consider still
How many lives go frustrate of their will;
How many spend in vain, and fruitless tire!—
I near the goal of my supreme desire.

Your tears reproach the happiness I feel,
And from this dear contentment something steal.
Smile, if you can, beloved! nor delay
What I would tell you ere I go my way.
·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·     ·     ·
Love gives but as Love will: this have I proved,
Who through long wistful years have vainly loved,
Yet find my life at last on death's sheer brink—
From lethal fountains purest rapture drink.
·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·     ·     ·
You know 't was not my right to dream of her,
Though I had served her long—love's pensioner—
Grateful for modest favor at her hands,
For mere acceptance, or for mild commands;

But on that night, across the theatre
I saw her come, and felt the restless stir
Of mad desires held in leash till then:
A longing to stand equal with the men

Who, for no merit, dared to keep her side,
Suspecting not the barriers that divide
Natures like hers from those of meaner birth.
I knew her throned above me, felt the worth

Of things they recked not of—her richest dower—
Yet longed that life should yield me for one hour
The right to stand before her—even as these?
Nay; but the right to fall before her knees,

To touch in worship her white garment's hem,
To win the smile so lightly given them
Because her heart with happiness o'erflowed,
Unconscious of the largess it bestowed.

Ah, me!—to think, what barren pain I felt!
Hopeless as one who in a desert dwelt,
Exiled from all that made his soul's delight,
I gazed upon her,—was it, friend, last night?

The Play—what matter? It drew near the end,
Scarce marked by me. You know the rest, my friend:
Waiting I sat there full of sad desire,
When, suddenly, it came—that cry of "Fire!"

How suddenly! I started to my feet:
But—as when two on-rushing torrents meet
And break the one the other—mad with fear,
The panic-stricken people, deaf to hear

Counsel or warning, in that burning tomb
Hurtled each other, battling to their doom.
Kind God, blot out the scene—soon past!
I to a column near me clinging fast,

Resisted the fell tide that onward bore
Its helpless prey with hideous uproar.
Twice had I lost my footing; yet I clave,
As one who struggles more than life to save,—

My every thought of her; but when at last,
Sore bruised and breathless, as one shoreward cast
After rude shipwreck, I dared raise my eyes,
Seeking in that vast Hell my Paradise,—

There, like some virgin image carved in stone,
She stood in her white radiance—alone.
Where were the men that loved her, as they said?
Ah, bitter "where"! They, all, too rashly fled,

Had entered that ignoble human strife,
Paying a shameful price for paltry life.
She read my soul, I think; and then—she smiled.
Nay, friend,—imagine not my speech grown wild!

I tell you true: in that appalling place
She smiled—the calm of Heaven in her face:
Her service had been long my soul's emprise;
Yet a new, wistful wonder lit her eyes,

And pale—ay, pale as Hades' death-crowned queen,
Across the fatal barriers between,
Her glad look seemed to say:—"At last, I know!
You, who alone have loved me, could not go!

"All help were vain. Stay!—let me see your face!"
So plead the look; then, with a poignant grace,
Her form bent toward me, her white arms apart,
She gave me the veiled secret of her heart.

Think you we marked the fiery sepulchre
In which we stood,—thence nevermore to stir?
A glory strange enwrapt us. Then, my friend,
I woke, and saw your face, and knew the end,—

Not that which you suppose—the end of strife,
Not dissolution—and not loss—but life!
·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·     ·     ·
I think she felt no anguish, knew no fear,
So mercifully swift the flames drew near;

For, even as she smiled, narcotic death
Enveloped her and stifled her sweet breath;
And the fire passed her by and left her there,
Like to a sleeping child, untouched and fair.
·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·      ·     ·     ·
All—all that life withheld—is mine at last!
With love, with God,—believe me,—there's no past.
The future waits; it calls—I must not stay!
The night is over,—look! the dawn of Day!
"After the Play" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

A Foremost American Lyrist

William Stanley Braithwaite
A Foremost American Lyrist
An Appreciation
by William Stanley Braithwaite
Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1913)

"...She draws from the Olympian world figures that typify some motive or desire in human conduct, and in the modern world the praise of men and women, heroic in attainment or sacrifice; or laments events that effect social and ethical progress, showing how beneficently she has brought her art, without modifying in the least its abstract function as a creator of beauty and pleasure, into the service of profound and vital problems..." Read more

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

DITTY: MY TRUE LOVE'S EYES, a poem

MY true-love's eyes are a surprise
     To put an end to ranging;
They vary so,—come weal, come woe,—
     One can but watch their changing!

Sometimes they shine with light divine,—
     Twin deeps where moonbeams hover,—
Anon they seem like stars agleam,
     With laughter brimming over.

My true-love's mouth is as the south
     In time of blossom, sunny;
A rose, in death, bequeathed it breath,
     And bees have lent it honey.

But oh, her heart is still the art,
     The magic fresh and living,
That wins the free her slaves to be
     By its own gift of giving!
"Ditty: My True Love's Eyes" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Independent (7 March 1895), Poems (1898) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Monday, March 6, 2017

LAST NIGHT I DREAMED, a poem

LAST night I dreamed, mine enemy,
     That you were at my side,
As in the days ere coldness came
     Our spirits to divide.

You smiled again with cordial eyes
     And simple heart elate,
As in the happy olden time
     That nothing knew of hate,

And I forgot, in converse glad,
     The bitterness since then,
And nearer to my thought you seemed—
     Dearer—than other men;

For memory, with softened touch
     Of pity, that caressed,
Made every kindness glow more bright,—
     And blotted out the rest.

Last night from dreams, mine enemy,
     I woke in tears, and knew
The soul, apart from mortal strife,
     Has naught with hate to do.
"Last Night I dreamed" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (March 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

IN DREAMLAND, a poem

IN dreamland is a castle fair
     Wherein my love doth dwell:
Its turrets waver into air
     From fields where asphodel
And poppy keep not watch, but sleep,
     'Neath an enchanter's spell.

Pale offspring of a starlit sky,
     One rose—for need like mine—
Has over-climbed the ivies high,
     About her sill to twine,
And there, abloom, with rare perfume
     Makes exquisite her shrine.

Still, night by night, the wondrous bird
     That ne'er is heard by day,
Thrills, with my heart's unspoken word,
     Those mystic turrets gray,
And heavened above, sings to my love
     His plaintive roundelay.

Ah, would that I, through tender gloom
     Upmounting, lover-wise,
Might find her in the fragrant room,—
     Her virgin Paradise,—
But for one night behold the light
     Beam in her charmèd eyes!

Alas! I shall nor lead her down
     The steep and skyey stair,
Nor find her here in the dull town,
     The sunlight on her hair,—
Yet, could we meet, my heart would greet
     And know her anywhere!
"In Dreamland" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Bazar (March 1913), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

On this day in 1886

Florence Earle Coates pre-1894
A reception is held at the Penn Club in Philadelphia in honor of French author Madamme Henri Gréville.  Florence Earle Coates is in attendance.  In the Philadelphia Inquirer society pages, on May 13th, 1894, Marianna F. McCann writes the following descriptive piece about an encounter she had with Mrs. Coates during the reception:

As a special act of indulgence the writer was taken as a very young girl to a reception given in Philadelphia at the old rooms of the "Penn Club," in honor of Madame Henri Gréville [most likely the reception which occurred on March 5th, 1886]; and there she met one who impressed her far more deeply than did the plump little author of "Dosia," [La Fille de Dosia (1876)] with her velvet frock and too-tight kid gloves. I was completely captivated by a tall, slender woman, with a luminously white face, great black eyes, and a patrician way of moving about. I was presented, and when she spoke to me I was strangely stirred by a voice deep and vibrative with feeling. That voice would have made the fortune of a tragic actress—by which I do not mean at all that it was "grief-charged." There were splendid diamonds in her ears and very splendid eyes in her head; and I know I tried to decide which were more dazzling—the little cut balls of crystallized carbon or those dark orbs, prismatically so beautiful and yet warm with soul. I did not then think to ask myself if she were beautiful, for the possessor of the splendid eyes seemed to exhale wit, sentiment and eloquence as easily as the rose does perfume or the child innocence. Her conversation was perfectly delightful and not a little bewildering. Later on, I confided my enraptured impression of this fascinating woman to a very ancient and clever old lady; in my enthusiasm I made free use of the personal pronouns "she" and "her," quite omitting to be more definite. "O, ho," she broke in before I had half finished my eulogy, "you've been talking with Florence Earle Coates. She can write a fine poem, but she does not stop at that—she is one." Mrs. Coates is the very incarnation of contradiction. The action of her life is cast along the lines of conventional routine; but the hidden and real existence of the woman is carried on miles beyond and above all material concerns, in the pure ether of the poet's realm. She will shut herself up with the "wide-eyed muse" to round a sonnet of majestic reach, or she will merge into the gay world, the laces of a duchess about her, precious stones at her throat and glowing roses on her breast, there to dazzle all listeners with her conversation, in which bon mot, persiflage, eloquence and philosophy are interwoven. She is a "fine lady," and yet her poetry is never tainted by "fine ladyism." She is a blue stocking, but with none of the unlovely signs of bluestockingism about her. Another woman with Mrs. Coates' voice, mobile face, and evident histrionic instinct would have dashed away front the conventional life and sought vent for the "tempest within" in the mimic world of the stage, but Mrs. Coates is mistress of a perfectly ordered home. Mrs. Coates is a Yankee of the Yankees. On three sides she is descended from the founders of New England, one of her anscestors being one of the five companions of Roger Williams when he commenced the settlement of Providence. She is also a great-niece of General Anthony Wayne.—Marianna F. McCann

On this day in 1881

Josephine Wisner Coates, only child to Florence and Edward H. Coates, dies in infancy.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

TO-DAY, a poem

WHERE hast thou gone, my Day?
     I meant to follow,
Extracting from thine every hour its sweet;
     But thou, beguiling hope with pledges hollow,
Art flown on wingèd feet.

Hardly I greet thy morn,
     The glory dwindles;
And as I plan thy moments with delight,
     The evening-primrose in my pathway kindles
Her taper for the night.

Ah, too precipitate!
     Might I not linger
To gather a stray blossom by the way,
     But pointing onward with thy warning finger,
Thou must outstrip me, Day?

Gladly I welcomed thee,
     An eager lover
Who deemed he knew each fleeting moment's cost,
     Is there no way, no method, to recover
The treasure I have lost?

Ah, no! From Time, alas!
     One may not borrow;
Nor move him what is squandered to restore.
     The tide flows back, and there may dawn a morrow.
     Thee I shall find no more.
"To-day" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (March 1906), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

Friday, March 3, 2017

TO THE MUSE, a poem

ONE spot of green, watered by hidden streams,
Makes summer in the desert where it gleams;
     And mortals, gazing on thy heavenly face,
Forget the woes of earth, and share thy dreams!
"To the Muse" by Florence Earle Coates. Published as "Poetry" in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (March 1897) and Poems (1898); as "To the Muse" in Poems (1916) Volume II.

Originally published as "Poetry." Below as inscribed in an 1898 copy of Poems to

Mrs. Charles F. Weber,
with the cordial regard of
          Florence Earle Coates
Germantown
     April 29/98

along with the following autograph verse:


Thursday, March 2, 2017

HENRY JAMES, a poem

Read by Mrs. Coates at a meeting of the Browning Society on Thursday, March 2nd, 1916 on the death (28 February 1916) of Henry James:
YOU were not of one country. To one Race,
     Rather, you gave your spirit's full devotion.
Careless a little as to bounds of space
     Set by dividing hill or severing ocean,
An exiled patriot, wherever dwelling,
     An alien on either side the sea,
You gave your loyalty, through love's compelling,
     To English speech and English liberty.
We claim you—both, drawn closer through your coming,
     England and she that nursed you at her breast.
Beauty you loved, and ne'er from truth went roaming,
     Through all the long desire, the ardent quest.
Ah, never quite at home, but ever homing,
     Passionate pilgrim, you have found your rest!
"Henry James" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On this day in 1810

Frédéric Chopin was born on 1 March 1810, forty years before the birth of Mrs. Coates. It was said of Coates that "to her poetic temperament, Chopin's music made such a strong appeal" and that "her rendering of Chopin was different from, and practically superior to, that of other performers." ("Florence Earle Coates" in Women's Progress, May 1895)

For the 75th Birthday of William Dean Howells

Mrs. Coates was in attendance at a dinner celebrating the 75th birthday of writer William Dean Howells (1 March 1912) held at Sherry's in NYC on 2 March 1912. The event was hosted by Harper's Weekly editor, Col. George Harvey. Also in attendance was President William Howard Taft, who gave an opening address. Mrs. Coates also wrote a poem in honor of the occasion:

Seventy-five glad years of blessing,
     And the hope of blessing more;
Memories the heart caressing,
     Dreams that beckoning wait, before;
Life—full life, made rich by giving:
     Life that can create, and lend
To the poor—delight in living,
     To the lonely—many a friend
Wisdom that can teach through laughter—
     Seeming but to entertain,
Or through pathos which, thereafter,
     Leaves no dull, regretful pain;
Years of blessing, years of kindness,
     And the courage that can smile
Though the eyes be dim to blindness
     With a sorrow, hid the while,—
These are thine, thou selfless schemer,
     Chanter of brave carmina:
These thy gifts to us, dear dreamer,—
     Traveler from Altruria.
"For the Birthday of William Dean Howells" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

Mrs. Coates also wrote "The Singer"—alternatively titled "A Traveller from Altruria"—based on Howells' Utopian novel, A Traveler from Altruria (1894).

William Dean Howells
(1837-1920)