Saturday, June 24, 2017

DREAM THE GREAT DREAM, a poem

DREAM the Great Dream, though you should dream—you, only,
     And friendless follow in the lofty quest.
Though the dream lead you to a desert lonely,
     Or drive you, like the tempest, without rest,
Yet, toiling upward to the highest altar,
     There lay before the gods your gift supreme,—
A human heart whose courage did not falter
     Though distant as Arcturus shone the Gleam.

The Gleam?—Ah, question not if others see it,
     Who nor the yearning nor the passion share;
Grieve not if children of the earth decree it—
     The earth, itself,—their goddess, only fair!
The soul has need of prophet and redeemer:
     Her outstretched wings against her prisoning bars,
She waits for truth; and truth is with the dreamer,—
     Persistent as the myriad light of stars!
"Dream the Great Dream" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Pathfinder (June 1911), The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

On Poems (1898)

"My 'Poems' were written without a purpose, other than the expression of faiths and ideals strongly realized and emotions keenly felt. They were written for the joy of writing, and for the satisfaction of an irresistible impulse. It is my belief that it is not the business of art either to teach or to preach." ~Written at Camp Elsinore, Upper St. Regis Lake, New York, June 24, 1898. From Book News, August 1898.

Friday, June 23, 2017

IN MEMORY OF CAROLINE FURNESS JAYNE, a poem

Caroline Furness Jayne, American ethnologist and author of String Figures and How To Make Them (1906), died on this day in 1909. She was the daughter of Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness, to whom Mrs. Coates dedicated her fourth volume of poetry, The Unconquered Air (1912).

Caroline Furness Jayne
drawing by Sonja N. Bohm
after portrait by Wm. Merritt Chase
COULDST thou—thou, also, die, whom life so cherished?
     Couldst thou go from us, in thy beauteous June,
Leaving a sense of joy untimely perished,
     Of music stilled too soon?

We had not dreamed, fair child, that thou before us
     Shouldst find the meadows of the asphodel—
Shouldst hear, ere we, "the high imagined chorus,"—
     But, ah, for thee, 't is well!

Not thine to creep reluctant to death's portal:
     Thy spirit from the mirk of transient things
Rose radiant to the light of the immortal,
     With eager, outstretched wings!

For the grave gods, bestowing every blessing
     Upon a child of Earth, ere grief should come,
Crowned thee, in youth, with the mild touch caressing
     That calls their loved ones home!
"In Memory of Caroline Furness Jayne" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine (October 1909), Lyrics of Life (1909) and Poems (1916) Volume II.

TIME, a poem

WHAT thought can measure Time?—
Tell its beginning, name
     The void from which it first, faint-pulsing, came?—
     Follow its onward going,—
     A restless river without tumult flowing,—
Or with sure footing climb
Unto its unlit altitudes sublime?

What thought can trace the wonders it hath seen—
Time, the creator of all that hath been,
     Giver of bounty where was dearth,
     Bringer of miracles to birth:
Time, through whose office is the seedling sown,
The fruit up-gathered, the ripe harvest mown,
     And beauty made to glorify the earth?

Before the land took shape and rose
     Black and chaotic from the old, old sea,
Before the stars their courses chose,
     Before the moon's most ancient memory,
Time to Earth's vision, veiled in night, appears
Back of the viewless cycles of the years.

The Hours, his little children, run
     Lightly upon his errands ever;
By sure and swift relays is done
     His will, disputed never;
The while these transient Hours infirm
Measure of mortal things the destined term.

Ah, me, the days! the heavy-weighted years,
     Each with its Spring and Winter, dusk and dawn!
The centuries, with all their joys, and tears,
     That came, and now—so utterly are gone!
Gone whither? Whither vanished so?
Does broad Orion, or does Hesper know?

There comes no answer. Are we dupes, indeed,—
     Offspring of Time, by Time relentless slain,
     Our purest aspirations dreamed in vain?
     Ah, no: man's soul indignant doth disdain
Ignoble vassalage to such a creed,
Well-knowing it is free,—
     Aye, free!—for present, past, and future blend,
     The segments of a circle without end,
Losing themselves in one, unbourned eternity!
"Time" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The North American Review (June 1915) and Poems (1916) Volume I.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

LINES FOR A FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY, a poem

GOLDEN their days have been, for love is golden—
     Golden as sunshine warm with life, not cold;
Lighting earth's pathway with the blessing olden
     That never groweth old.

It owns no Past; a help divine in sorrow,
     A strength to overmaster each annoy,
Love holds the faithful promise of a morrow,
     Immortal in its joy!
"Lines for a Fiftieth Anniversary" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912).

ODE ON THE CORONATION OF KING GEORGE V, a poem

"I have vowed to God to lead a right life in all things, to rule justly and piously my realms and subjects, and to administer just judgment to all. If heretofore I have done aught beyond what was just, through headiness or negligence of youth, I am ready with God's help to amend it utterly."—King Canute's letter to his English subjects.

     WHEN Nature takes away the things we prize,
With all a mother's patient tenderness
She soothes us, and from treasure limitless
Brings forth new joys to gladden our grieved eyes.

Before the leaves fall fluttering to the ground
Affrighted at the very breath and sound
Of the wind's passion, she from blight and storm
Garners the seeds of Summer, safe and warm.

She knows, though glad and sweet the wild bird sing,
How soon the trillium of the wood shall fade,—
Nor longer with its stars illume the shade,—
She knows, and harvests for a future Spring;

And though about her winds of Autumn sigh,
And though the rose—the rose, itself, must die,
And though the lordly pine that scorns to bend
Must fall at last,—she knows there is no end.

Sure of her birthright—elemental, vast,—
Calmly she waits; but man, to whom is given
Earth in its fullness and the dream of heaven,
Still looks with fond regret unto a past

Whose colors fade not in the distant light,
But rather to his worship grow more bright,
And careless as to that the future saith,
Pays tribute to the nothingness of death.
I
     When the fourth Henry, in that chamber called
Jerusalem, lay dying, with what fear,
Knowing the Angel-of-the-Shadow near,
Must he have viewed the future and, appalled,
Beheld succeeding to his perilous throne—
To reign and rule alone—
One who to Folly turned a laughing face,
Dallied with Fortune, and out-dared Disgrace.

More grievous, as the fatal hour drew nigh,
More dreadful than the death he might not fly,
More poignant than regret or mortal pain
Or memories of woeful Richard slain,—
More tragic than all else to him the thought
That his own offspring, in but little while,
Consorting with the worthless and the vile,
Should bring his dearly purchased good to naught.

Fainting, the King saw sorrows multiply,
And out of weakness dared to prophesy
Evil of Harry Monmouth! nor might guess
How idle his distress
For one whose future Honour should secure
In human hearts and in heroic story,—
The King new found, new crowned, at Agincourt,—
Great England's darling and her future glory!
II
But how should doubt not add to care its pain
When, after Mary Tudor's baleful reign,
Forth came from prison drear
Another Queen? Yet 't was her spirit, fired
By grave ambition, nobly men inspired
To victories thrice dear,—
Giving her Age to breathe immortal breath,
Illustrious in the name Elizabeth!
III
Still with misgiving crowns are laid
Upon the brow of kings.
Yet oft have fairest plantings been repaid
With poorest harvestings,
While following vain auguries of ill
To man have come, beneficently born,
Such reigns as his whose tact and generous will
The Nations of the earth late joined to mourn.

But no misgiving clouds the Future now!
In all the ages rarely hath there been
Such light of hope upon the forehead seen
As that which haloes her auroral brow,
Whose puissance shall uplift the poor and weak,
Whose love shall teach, to such as wisdom seek,
That they are blest who give, they only free
Who in the strength of Law find liberty!
IV
     England, it is thy coronation hour!
Doubt is of high and ancient lineage,
But faith is more than plenitude of power,
And now—distrust were treason. Turn in pride,

O England, to thy happy heritage!
And as the bridegroom forth to meet the bride
Fares smiling, so, from cloudy griefs of night,
Turn thou where lovely dawns the day's new light,

And with wise trust, the fruit of loyalty,
To his great father's throne
Make doubly welcome Alexandra's son—
Thy son, O England!—worthy thine to be!

Far from thy beauteous isle, across the Sea,
A Sister-Land prays heaven for him and thee—
Prays that the coming ages still may sing
The blessings of his reign.  God save the King!
"Ode on the Coronation of King George V" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and as "Henry V" in Poems (1916) Volume II. The later instance was published omitting stanzas II through IV along with the quotation from King Canute's letter to his English subjects.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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

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

THE SUMMER-TIME IS IN THE ROSE, a poem

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

IN MEMORY, a poem

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

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

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

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

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

Eliza Sproat Turner
(1826-1903)

Monday, June 19, 2017

BEREFT, a poem

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

FATHER, a poem

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

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

CRADLE SONG, a poem

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

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

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

BEATRICE BEFORE DEATH, a poem

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

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

AN IDLE DITTY, a poem

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CHILD-FANCIES, a poem

ASPHODEL

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

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

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

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

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

II
GATHERED WILD-FLOWERS

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

THROUGH THE WINDOW, a poem

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

TO THE AUTHOR OF "MADAME BUTTERFLY", a poem

ON SEEING THE OPERA

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

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

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

Sunday, June 11, 2017

WINGS, a poem

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

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

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

Saturday, June 10, 2017

YOU, a poem

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

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

On this day in 1886

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

On this day in 1880

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

TRUE LOVE, a poem

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

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

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

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

On this day in 1900

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

HOW WONDERFUL IS LOVE, a poem

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

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"VICTI RESURGUNT", a poem

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

BEFORE THE HOUR, a poem

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

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

A LOWLY PARABLE, a poem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A DESCANT, a poem

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

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

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

Saturday, June 3, 2017

LIMITATION, a poem

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

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

ART, a poem

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

ACHILLES, a poem

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

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

Thursday, June 1, 2017

AT DUSK, a poem

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

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

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

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

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