Monday, September 25, 2017

SERBIA, a poem

WHEN the heroic deeds that mark our time
     Shall, in far days to come, recorded be,
     Men, much forgetting, shall remember thee,
Thou central martyr of the Monster-Crime,
Who kept thy soul clear of the ooze and slime—
     The quicksands of deceit and perjury—
     A living thing, unconquered still and free,
Through superhuman sacrifice sublime.

O Serbia! amid thy ruins great,
Love is immortal;  there's an end to hate,
     Always there will be dawn, though dark the night.
Look up, thou tragic Glory! Even now,
The thorny round that binds thy bleeding brow
     Is as a crown irradiating light!
"Serbia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in A Treasury of War Poetry (1917).

Sunday, September 24, 2017

CAPTAIN GUYNEMER, a poem

Captain Georges Guynemer
(1894-1917)
WHAT high adventure, in what world afar,
Follows to-day,
Mid ampler air,
Heroic Guynemer?
What star,
Of all the myriad planets of our night,
Is by his glowing presence made more bright
Who chose the Dangerous way,
Scorning, while brave men died, ignobly safe to stay?

Into the unknown Vast,
Where few could follow him, he passed,—
On to the gate—the shadowy gate—
Of the Forbidden,
Seeking the knowledge jealous Fate
Had still so carefully from mortals hidden.
With vision falcon-keen,
His eyes beheld what others had not seen,
And his soul, with as clear a gaze,
Pierced through each clouded maze
Straight to the burning heart of things, and knew
The lying from the true.

A dweller in Immensity,
Of naught afraid,
He saw the havoc Tyranny had made,—
Saw the relentless tide of War's advance,
And high of heart and free,
Vowed his young life to Liberty—
And France!

O Compiègne! be proud of him—thy son,—
The greatest of the eagle brood,—
Who with intrepid soul the foe withstood,
And rests, his victories won!
Mourn not uncomforted, but rather say:—
His wings were broken, but he led the way
Where myriad stronger wings shall follow;
For Wrong shall not hold lasting sway,
To break the World's heart, nor betray
With cruel pledges hollow!

To us the battle draweth near.
We dedicate ourselves again,
Remembering, O Compiègne!
Thy Charioteer—
Thy peerless one, who died to make men free,
And in Man's grateful heart shall live immortally!

"Captain Guynemer" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in A Treasury of War Poetry (1917).

SEDAN, a poem

(The battle of Sedan, ending Sept. 2, 1870, in an overwhelming victory for the Prussians and the capture of the Emperor Napoleon III, was the decisive battle of the Franco-Prussian War.)
HOW terrible the victory
     That undermines the soul!
How better, better far to fail—
     To falter from the goal,
And with a brave acceptance meet
The triumph of a high defeat!

France!—generous Land beloved of all!
     More glorious made through pain,
Sedan beheld thy loss,—not fall,
     And taught how men may gain
Conquests that base desires impart,
Corrupt the will, and rob the heart!
"Sedan" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Mississippi), 2 September 1917.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

THE COMRADE, a poem

(Among the soldiers of France there is a widespread and touching belief that at Nancy, Soissons, Ypres and in the Argonne a Form in White has passed unharmed through shot and shell, comforting the wounded and the dying.)
WHO is this in raiment white
     Walks across the field,
Midst the terrors of the fight
     Bears nor sword nor shield,
Stays the dying to defend,
Where can come no other friend.

Who is this of whom they tell,
     Beautiful and grave,
As from Heaven, to this Hell
     Come the hurt to save?—
Bearing them with tenderness,
Where can follow no distress?

Who is this that lifts them up
     As they earthward sink,
Bids them, thirsting, from his cup
     Euthanasia drink,
Opens to their closing eyes
Healing visions of the skies?  * * *

Is it the supreme Desire,
     Answering their need?—
Is it Faith that doth aspire,
     Lifting them, indeed,
Up, beyond all human strife,
To its own immortal life?

Is it Hope, the deathless one,
     To their broken hearts
Whispering of joys begun,
     E'en as life departs;
Hope, the gift of memories
Garnered at the mother's knees?

Is it, Friend and Healer, Thou—
     Vision pure and pale—
Whom men, sorrowing, look on now,
     As they saw the Grail?—
Is it Thou their yearnings greet,
Unimaginably sweet?

On the blood-stained fields of France
     What the dying view
Who can tell? All, all, perchance!
     But this much is true:
There wherever pain has trod
Comes the pitying love of God!
"The Comrade" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Washington Herald (Washington, DC), 14 June 1918.

FOR FRANCE, a poem

SHE had been stricken, sorely, ere this came;
     And now they wrote that he, her boy, was dead—
     Her only one! Through blinding tears she read,
Trying to see what followed his dear name.
     He had died "gloriously," the letter said,
"Guarding the Tricolor from touch of shame
Where raged the battle furious and wild."
     Catching her breath, she stayed despair’s advance.
She was a mother; but, besides—a child
                      Of France!

And after, though remembrance of past years
     Dulled not to her fond vision nor grew dim;
     Though every slightest incident of him
Was treasured in her breast, she shed no tears.
     Her cup was full now, even to the brim,
And for herself she knew nor hopes nor fears.
So, toiling patiently, with noble pride
     And lifted head she met each pitying glance,
She was the mother of a son who died—
                     For France!
"For France" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Patriotic Pieces from the Great War (1918).

Friday, September 22, 2017

A SOLDIER, a poem

DEAR God, I raised my boy to be a soldier;
     I tried to make him strong of will and true;
I told him many a tale of deeds heroic—
     The noblest and the sweetest tales I knew.

In thought, he shared the charge at Balaclava,
     With the Swiss Guard, o'ermastered coward Death,
With Gordon all renounced, with Scott and Peary
     Breathed in his ardent youth heroic breath.

A little lad, he wept for wounded Sidney,
     For Bayard, sans reproche, who knew no fears,
Yet, hurt himself, if one but said,—"My Soldier!"—
     Straightaway he smiled and swallowed down his tears.

I taught him that the brave are full of mercy;
     That gentleness and love to strength belong;
That honour is the only High adventure,
     And goodness the one everlasting song!

And so I raised my boy to be a Soldier:
     A patriot soldier, brave, devoted, free!
And now, and now,—with grateful trust, O Father!
     I give him to my Country and to Thee!
"A Soldier" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (20 July 1918).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

AS THEY LEAVE US, a poem

After the cheers had ceased. Photo by Frank W. Buhler.
BID farewell with pride,
     Show no trace of sorrow;
Smile into their eyes,
      Though your courage borrow;
There will be another day,
     And a time
          To pay!

Gallant is their look,
     But their hearts are tender.
Cry aloud your faith!
     Loyal tribute render!
For they go—the young, the brave—
     Liberty
          To save!

Tell them not of fear;
     Whisper not of sadness;
Overbrim to-day
     With heroic gladness;
Let your love, remembered, shine
     As a light
          Benign!

Simple is their trust,
     But 'tis deep as ocean;
Lofty is their hope,
     Selfless their devotion;
And they go—the young, the brave—
     Liberty
          To save!

Hark!  The bugles call!
     Wave your banners!—cheer them!
Happy, let them dream
     All that's valiant near them!
They will know, when far from you,
     That the dream
          Was true!
"As they Leave Us" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Patriotic Pieces from the Great War (1918).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

LIVE THY LIFE, a poem

LIVE thy life gallantly and undismayed:
Whatever harms may hide within the shade,
Be thou of fear, my spirit! more afraid.

In earthly pathways evil springeth rife;
But dread not thou, too much, or pain or strife
That plunge thee to the greater depths of life!

What though the storm-cloud holds the bolt that sears?
The eagle of the crag, that nothing fears,
Still, still is young after a hundred years!
"Live Thy Life" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (January 1914), Poems (1916) Volume I and Pro Patria (1917).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

THE UNION OF THE FLAGS, a poem

Mayor Smith and Marshal Joffre. Photo by Frank W. Buhler.
The French High Commission visits Philadelphia on 9 May 1917.
May 9, 1917
WE have hung out the flags that we love best—
     The British, the French and our own;
Adoring we see them together,
     That never together were flown!
And we feel in the bond is a blessing
     For every grief to atone.

O flag of my own Land, give welcome!
     Be proud to embrace, fold with fold,
These emblems of service heroic
     Whose measure can never be told:
These banners that speak to the future
     Of honor that shall not grow old!

Across them is ''Sacrifice'' written;
     They voice peoples generous, brave,
Who, suffering all men can suffer
     This side of eternity, gave
Their best with unflinching devotion,
     The wronged and the helpless to save.

They poured out their hearts' blood for freedom;
     They stood in the terrible way,
And bore the full brunt of the onslaught
     That darkened the sun at noonday.
We gaze with dimmed eyes on their Colors,
     Our souls strong for duty as they!

We will stand with high hearts by our Allies,
     With fear of no evil but shame;
We will face coward Death and outface him,
     In Liberty's eloquent name;
For we're of the brood of the Lion
     That Tyranny never could tame!
"The Union of the Flags" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

Monday, September 18, 2017

AMERICA SPEAKS, a poem

From Pro Patria (1917)

AMERICA SPEAKS
"For what avail or plough, or sail,
Or land, or life, if freedom fail?"
WE have been sleeping—dreaming.  Now,
     Thank God! we are awake!
Awake, and ready with a will
     The nobler part to take!
No more shall a pretended Peace
     Our souls from duty sever;
We dedicate our lives to God
     And Liberty—forever!

We, who have looked with anguished eyes
     On things no eye should see,
Beholding all that may be wrought
     By ruthless Tyranny,
Join hands with you, devoted Lands,
     A liberated Nation
That wills to share your sacrifice,
     That knows your exaltation!

A lofty voice has spoken words
     That bring the world relief;
Our Land has joined the league of Right,
     Led onward by her Chief—
Her Chief who large has writ his name
     With Lincoln's in the story
Of that dear land which still may call
     The flag she loves, "Old Glory!"
"America Speaks" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

Sunday, September 17, 2017

UNDER THE FLAG, a poem

February 5, 1917
UNDER our own flag, still we will sail her—
     Gallantly sail her, our own Ship of State;
Faiths we have lived by still shall avail her,
     Hope at her prow, wing'd, expectant, elate!

Over the deeps of a perilous ocean,
     Honor compelling, we still will sail on;
Giving, unfearing, a loyal devotion,
     Until, in life—in death, danger is gone.

Deem not that we, whom our fathers before us
     Taught to love freedom and died to make free,
Coward shall fly, while the Heavens are o'er us,
     Craft of the ether or boats under sea.

There is in valor that hearkens to duty—
     Something that dearer may be than long years;
And in man's service may be a beauty
     Higher than glory, and deeper than tears.
"Under the Flag" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

This poem was cited by the Hon. Isaac Siegel in an "Extension of Remarks" in the Appendix to the Congressional Record (Second Session of the 64th Congress of the United States, Vol. LIV) on 2 March 1917, under the heading, "Arming of American Merchant Ships."  Mr. Siegel referenced a February 1917 publishing of the poem from The New York Times, but no specific edition of the Times is given.

On this day in 1787

...delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the final draft of the United States Constitution. An advocate for the protection of liberty and good government practices, George H. Earle, Jr., brother of Florence Earle Coates, reflects:

"At this moment the most stable Government in the world is our own, and it is solely because, in its real essence, it is the most free, in the only sense in which Freedom really exists; where men can act at their own free discretion, restrained only by the necessities of Justice.  If the spirit of the Constitution is to be observed, that great instrument is always self-preserving.  It needs only to be followed to be safeguarded." (1920)

"In the first place, the meaning of the Constitution never varies. It means today exactly what it meant on the day of its adoption. To hold otherwise would destroy the judicial character of the Supreme Court, and make the continuance of our 'unalienable' rights completely uncertain. This has been forcibly stated in South Carolina vs. United States, 199 U. S., at 448: 'The Constitution is a written instrument. As such its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when adopted it means now. * * * Those things which are within its grants of power, when made, are still within them, and those things not within remain still excluded. * * * Any other rule of construction, would abrogate the judicial character of this Court, and make it the mere reflex of the popular opinion or passion of the day.'" (1921)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO THE ALLIES, a poem

IF they tell you that we hold
     Right and wrong are much the same:
     That with equal share of blame
The defender of the fold
     And the ravening wolf we name—
               Don't believe it!

If they tell you that we think,
     When the robber comes by night
     And we see 'neath murderous Might
Innocence unfriended sink,
     We should be "too proud to fight"—
               Don't believe it!

If they tell you we are cold
     When strong men, and maids as brave,
     May not life from bondage save—
We who gave unstinted gold,
     And our heart's blood, for the slave!—
               Don't believe it!

If—O gallant souls and true!—
     If they tell you we judge well
     Ways of Heaven and ways of Hell:
That the honor dear to you
     Also in our souls doth dwell—
               Oh, believe it!

If they tell you our heart's cry:
     That, whate'er the danger near,
     One, one only loss we fear;
And are ready, too, to—die
     For the things that you hold dear—
               Oh, believe it!
"The American People to the Allies" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917).

The "too proud to fight" reference in the poem refers to the words of President Woodrow Wilson from a speech delivered on 10 May 1915 to 4,000 newly naturalized citizens in Convention Hall, Philadelphia. Mr. Wilson stated that "there is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight ... as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right." Mrs. Coates evidently disagreed with Mr. Wilson on that point.

Friday, September 15, 2017

AMERICA, a poem

PATIENT she is—long-suffering, our Land;
     Wise with the strength of one whose soul in calm
Weighs and considers, and would understand
     Ere it gives way to anger: fearing wrong
Of her own doing more than any planned
     Against her peace by others deemed more strong.

Mother of many children alien born,
     Whom she has gathered into her kind arms,—
Safe-guarding most the weakest, most forlorn,—
     The mother's patience she has learned to know,
Which passes trifles by with smiling scorn—
     The mother's hopefulness, to anger slow.

Yet, oh, beware! nor, over-bold, presume
     Upon a gentleness enlikened with Power!
Her torch still burns, to kindle or consume,
     And 'gainst the time when she must prove her might,
Vast energy is stored in her soul's room—
     Undreamed of strength to battle for the Right!
"America" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Pro Patria (1917) and in the New York Times Magazine (25 February 1917).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

BETTER TO DIE, a poem

BETTER to die, where gallant men are dying,
     Than to live on with them that basely fly:
Better to fall, the soulless Fates defying,
Than unassailed to wander vainly, trying
     To turn one's face from an accusing sky!

Days matter not, nor years to the  undaunted;
     To live is nothing,—but to nobly live!
The poorest visions of the honor-haunted
Are better worth than pleasure-masks enchanted,
     And they win life who life for others give.

The planets in their watchful course behold them—
     To live is nothing,—but to nobly live!—
For though the Earth with mother-hands remold them,
Though Ocean in his billowy arms enfold them,
     They are as gods, who life to others give!
"Better to Die" is the first poem in Florence Earle Coates' pamphlet of poetry, Pro Patria (1917), created in support of American involvement in WWI. It was also published in The Unconquered Air (1912) and Poems (1916) Volume I.


Pro Patria (1917)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

HOW LONG? a poem

     'Tis man's perdition to be safe,
     When for the truth he ought to die." 
How long must we blush for the land of our love—
     We, sons of her honor, who fain would defend her?
How long must we wait, our own manhood to prove,
     While that poor protection she has others lend her?

Oh, heroes there were in the days that are gone,
     Who recked not of danger, who asked but of duty;
Men for whose guidance perpetual shone
     The Patriot Vision, in glorified beauty!

What is our life worth, if life be not living
     Up to the best and the highest we know?
What is life's gain but the glad power of giving,
     To the full measure, the debt that we owe?

God of our fathers, now in our need, hearken!
     Perils that shame us are here at our door;
They who should guide us with tame counsels darken;
     God of our fathers, inspire us once more!
"How Long?" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger (? 1917) and The Wall Street Journal (23 March 1917).

THE BRAVE, a poem

IT is not the desert lonely,
     Nor at the mast-head o'er the wave,
Nor with the climbing fire ascending
     Imperiled life to save,
Nor on the battlefield, that only
     Are found the brave!

Ah, no! Unmarked, pain's passion-flowers,
     Through nights intolerably deep,
They bind in silence; mutely praying—
     Enduring, not to keep
Their watchers wearying through the hours—
     But let them sleep.

Through all the winter chill, ere morning,
     O'er many a frozen trail, I wis,
Fighting their course, that waiting children
     Life's nurture may not miss—
Against the blast they journey, scorning
     As bitter kiss.

From light-towers sending forth at even
     New hope, in place of old despair,
Toiling in mines, in factories toiling—
     But, ah! why seek, why care
To name them o'er? The brave, thank Heaven!
     Are everywhere!
"The Brave" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (April 1915)

'Lottie' Meade
Munitions worker, London
Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

ART AND WAR, a poem

First Day of the St. Mihiel Offensive
George Harding
in Philadelphia in the World War 1914-1919 (1922)
WAR has its field of blood—heart-breaking War—
     Wherein to rule with undisputed sway
     Throughout its own mad, self-exhausting day.
There, where it rashly sacrifices more
Than laboring Time may ever quite restore,
     Shall it amid red welter and decay
     Strive horribly; but let it not essay
To enter where Peace guards the Future's door!

War has nor right, nor privilege, nor part
     In lives high-dedicate the world to bind
Through love and hope and the great dream of Art!
     All Lands to such are Fatherland; they find
In alien realms love's grateful, welcoming heart—
     They, chosen of the Gods to bless mankind!
"Art and War" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (9 Jan 1915) and Poems (1916) Volume II.


As published in The Bellman (9 January 1915)

Monday, September 11, 2017

In remembrance 9/11


HOPE AMIDST UNSETTLED DUST
SEPTEMBER 11TH, 2001
The dust never settles it seems, here of late.
Reluctant—we come to accept this: our fate!
Fearful of life too delicate to trod;
Hopeful of eternity in the arms of our God!
"Hope Amidst Unsettled Dust" ©2001 by Sonja N. Bohm.


PEACE-KEEPERS
'Tis for our freedom Christ hath set us free;
     Prince of Peace: born to die upon a tree
     Sacrificing self for all—even for me!
Brothers in arms, peace-keepers all, full cups do toss;
     And, hearing Freedom's call, take up their cross
     Knowing—in His will—suffereth they no loss.
Inviolable?—We would be loathe to forget
     Their sacrifices made, the blood they shed,—
     For evil doth abide here with us yet! 
The duty still is ours: for us to pray
     For those whom He hath chose to lead the way,
     That they might not be moved to lead astray.
In the world ye shall have trouble, Jesus spoke,
     But in Me ye may have peace and rest—and Hope! 
"Peace-keepers" ©2009 by Sonja N. Bohm.

THE GODS REMEMBER, a poem

THE Gods remember always. We forget,
But they forget not: every debt
Howe'er we palter and evade,
Maturing, must be paid.

They pity us, the Gods, but naught forgive,
Lest we, who slowly learn to live—
Children scarce wiser in our age than youth—
Should come to doubt their truth!

Loving the brave who strive and will not yield
Though hurt and fallen on the field,
They teach us not from death to fly,
Lest we, indeed, should die!

For 'tis their will the soul shall rise
Above its earthly agonies:
Triumphant rise, as from the pyre
A Phœnix, winged by fire!
"The Gods Remember" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Harper's Monthly Magazine (October 1916).

Sunday, September 10, 2017

THE KAISER, a poem

Kaiser Wilhelm II
HE stood alone, in sovereignty sublime,
     Uniquely great,—the Kaiser! They that feared,
     Yet honored him, who to the world appeared
Lofty in courage, wise, above his time,
     The Monarch of the hour!—
Using his strength destructive things to bind,
Serving the Fatherland—and, so, mankind,
     Safe-guarding Peace with Power.

He stood alone? How lone today he stands,
     The eyes of all fixed wondering on him!
     His throne ensanguined, his bright ægis dim,
The murderous sword clutched in his lawless hands!
     What spectacle more sad
Than Might by its own folly wounded so?
Are the Gods jealous now, as long ago,
     That thus they make ambitious mortals mad?
"The Kaiser" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Fifes and Drums (1917).

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Poems on Reims Cathedral


RHEIMS
AT THE RUINED CATHEDRAL
COVER your face, Humanity, and weep,
     Considering your sorrow and your shame
Where things are writ to keep the eyes from sleep,—
Where sacrilege and horror records keep
     To blemish your fair name!

Hate here betrayed itself, too blind to see,
     Striking with venom at its own heart's core—
Hate, that destroys with dull barbarity
What Time, though long it toil and patiently,
     May not again—ah, not again restore!

The generations yet unborn shall feel
     This wrong to Beauty, and lament her loss:
Here royal kings, unhappy ghosts, shall steal
Through ruins where no carillon shall peal,
     Nor altar gleam, nor Christ bend from the cross.

And evermore, haunting this woeful shade,
     Clothed in white armor a loved wraith shall come;
And here, where she a King and Nation made,
Shall talk again with angels, unafraid,
     Although her sweet, accusing lips be dumb.
"Rheims" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.


THE SMILE OF REIMS
"The smile," they called her,—"La Sourire"; and fair—
   A sculptured angel on the northern door
   Of the Cathedral's west façade—she wore
Through the long centuries of toil and care
That smile, mysteriously wrought and rare,
   As if she saw brave visions evermore—
   Kings, and an armored Maid who lilies bore,
And all the glories that had once been there.
How like to thee, her undefeated Land!
   Wounded by bursting shells, a little space
      Broken she lay beneath her ancient portal;
But lifted from the earth with trembling hand,
   Victorious, still glowed upon her face
      Thy smile, heroic France, love-given and immortal!
"The Smile of Reims" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Bellman (2 June 1917).

On this day in 1877

Husband William Nicholson dies at age 32; the funeral being held at their residence at 3114 N. 19th St. in Philadelphia on Sept. 12th at 3pm. ["Nicholson (obituary)." Philadelphia Inquirer 10 Sept. 1877: p. 5, col. 1] "Mr. Nicholson had been a member of the Stock Board since 1868 ... He had charge of the board's clearing house in its infancy." ["Death of William Nicholson, Jr." Philadelphia Inquirer 11 Sept. 1877]

Friday, September 8, 2017

A RUSSIAN'S PRAYER FOR HIS HORSE, BEFORE GOING INTO BATTLE, a poem

                    A PARAPHRASE
ALSO for these that with us bear
     The heat and burden of the day,
These humble creatures of Thy care,
     O Merciful, we pray.

Their guileless lives they offer, Lord,
     To aid their country in distress.
Grant to their virtue the reward
     Of Thy great tenderness.

Have pity also, Lord, on these—
     On these, so docile, faithful, meek!
We supplicate upon our knees
     For them that cannot speak.
By Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Friends' Intelligencer (25 December 1915) and in Poems (1916) Volume II.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

REQUIEM FOR A YOUNG SOLDIER, a poem

PEACE to-night, heroic spirit!
     Pain is overpast.
All the strife with life is ended;
     You may rest at last.

The devotion that, amazing,
     Welled from out the deep
Of your being, no more needed,
     Quiet you may sleep:

Sleep, who, giving all for others,
     Battled till the victory nigh,
You, too, toil and heart-break over,
     Had the right to die! . . .

We may guard the grave that holds you,
     As a shrine of Truth
Lighted by the pure devotion
     Of your radiant youth;

We, you died for, may forget you!
     You will have no care,
Who, content, to-night are sleeping—
     Painless, dreamless, there!
"Requiem for a Young Soldier" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Scribner's Magazine (November 1915) and in Poems (1916) Volume II.


British soldier paying his respects at the grave of a colleague
near Cape Helles where the Gallipoli landings took place
(19 November 1915)
Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

AN APPEAL, a poem

HARKEN, heroic England! Know how near
     To thy life-citadel the foe has drawn!
Abjure complacent counsels; learn to fear;
For Might that wars 'gainst all thou holdest dear,
     Unstayed, is marching on!

Thou, patient ever, be deceived no more:
     Part with delusive dreams that make less strong!
Behold how bold (a ruthless conqueror),
By night and day comes nearer to thy door
     Intolerable Wrong!

Call upon all thy strength—not later, now!—
     Now while the world waits breathless for thy deed,
That it eternally may disavow
The faith that "Might makes Right," nor bow
     To Savagery's brute creed!

Brave in defence of honor and the word
     Which, given freely, binds and maketh free.
Arm, that the weak and helpless may be heard!—
Yea, that the hearts of men may still be stirred
     To Christ's humanity!

From fields of horror, blood-soaked, eloquent,
     From shrines of beauty, waste and desecrate,
From unoffending lips and innocent,
The cry of anguish and of hope is rent:—
     "England! be not too late!"
"An Appeal" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

IN WAR-TIME, poems

Florence Earle Coates and her husband Edward Hornor Coates were among other Americans delayed in England by the outbreak of war, and on 1 September 1914, they sailed from the port of Southampton, England on the Lapland back to New York City, arriving on 9 September 1914.

IN WAR-TIME
GAZING SEAWARD
BREAKERS that beat against the shore
     With pulsing throb and angry roar
And multitudinous meanings evermore,—
Ye are to me as souls untaught of pain,
     That bent upon a fruitless quest
Still dash themselves 'gainst barrier laws in vain;
     But, oh, beyond your tumult and unrest,
Is Ocean like the Everlasting Will,—
So vast, so deep, so still!
Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.


The Lapland

IN WAR-TIME
AN AMERICAN HOMEWARD BOUND
FURTHER and further we leave the scene
     Of war—and of England's care;
I try to keep my mind serene,—
     But my heart stays there;

For a distant song of pain and wrong
     My spirit doth deep confuse,
And I sit all day on the deck, and long—
     And long for news!

I seem to see them in battle-line—
     Heroes with hearts of gold,
But of their victory a sign
     The Fates withhold;

And the hours too tardy-footed pass,
     The voiceless hush grows dense
Mid the imaginings, alas!
     That feed suspense.

Oh, might I lie on the wind, or fly
     In the wilful sea-bird's track,
Would I hurry on, with a homesick cry,—
     Or hasten back?
Published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

Monday, September 4, 2017

THE NEW MARS, a poem

I WAR against the folly that is War,
     The sacrifice that pity hath not stayed,
The Great Delusion men have perished for,
     The lie that hath the souls of men betrayed:
I war for justice and for human right,
Against the lawless tyranny of Might.
A monstrous cult has held the world too long:
     The worship of a Moloch that hath slain
Remorselessly the young, the brave, the strong,—
     Indifferent to the unmeasured pain,
The accumulated horror and despair,
That stricken Earth no longer wills to bear.
My goal is peace,—not peace at any price,
     While yet ensanguined jaws of Evil yawn
Hungry and pitiless: Nay, peace were vice
     Until the cruel dragon-teeth be drawn,
And the wronged victims of Oppression be
Delivered from its hateful rule, and free!
When comes that hour, resentment laid aside,
     Into a ploughshare will I beat my sword;
The weaker Nations' strength shall be my pride,
     Their gladness my exceeding great reward;
And not in vain shall be the tears now shed,
Nor vain the service of the gallant dead.
            *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *
I war against the folly which is War,
     The futile sacrifice that naught hath stayed,
The Great Delusion men have perished for,
     The lie that hath the souls of men betrayed;
For faith I war, humanity, and trust;
For peace on earth—a lasting peace, and just!
"The New Mars" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Athenaeum (May? 1915) and in Poems (1916) Volume II.


Graphic study of Mars, by Anton Raphael Mengs ca. 1775
Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, September 3, 2017

PLACE DE LA CONCORDE, a poem


PLACE DE LA CONCORDE
AUGUST 14, 1914

Since the bombardment of Strasburg, August 14, 1870, her statue in Paris, representing Alsace, has been draped in mourning by the French people.
NEAR where the royal victims fell
In days gone by, caught in the swell
Of a ruthless tide
Of human passion, deep and wide:
There where we two
A Nation's later sorrow knew,—
To-day, O friend! I stood
Amid a self-ruled multitude
That by nor sound nor word
Betrayed how mightily its heart was stirred.
A memory Time never could efface—
A memory of grief—
Like a great Silence brooded o'er the place;
And men breathed hard, as seeking for relief
From an emotion strong
That would not cry, though held in check too long.
One felt that joy drew near,—
A joy intense that seemed itself to fear,—
Brightening in eyes that had been dull,
As all with feeling gazed
Upon the Strasburg figure, raised
Above us,—mourning, beautiful!
Then one stood at the statue's base, and spoke—
Men needed not to ask what word;
Each in his breast the message heard,
Writ for him by Despair,
That evermore in moving phrase
Breathes from the Invalides and Père-Lachaise,—
Vainly it seemed, alas!
But now, France, looking on the image there,
Hope gave her back the lost Alsace.
A deeper hush fell on the crowd:
A sound—the lightest—seemed too loud
(Would, friend, you had been there!)
As to that form the speaker rose,
Took from her, fold on fold,
The mournful crape, gray-worn and old,
Her, proudly, to disclose,
And with the touch of tender care
That fond emotion speaks,
Mid tears that none could quite command,
Placed the Tricolour in her hand,
And kissed her on both cheeks!
"Place de la Concorde" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Athenaeum in 1914, and subsequently in Poems (1916) Volume II.

From Elizabeth Clendenning Ring’s “Florence Earle Coates: Some Phases of Her Life and Poetry.” (Book News Monthly, Dec 1917):
Mrs. Coates was abroad in the turbulent days that marked the outbreak of the amazing war and in a poem, sensitively vivid, describes the scene in the Place de la Concorde, August 14th, 1914, when a breathless multitude watched the speaker of the day tear [the “mournful crape”] from the statue of Alsace...

Saturday, September 2, 2017

BRITANNIA, a poem

"LONDON CROWDS AWAITING WAR NEWS"
Buckingham Palace, 4 August 1914*
I AM calling together my sons—
The children my love gave birth,
     I am arming them
          As the swift sand runs,
     And sending them with their battle guns,
To prove their manhood's worth.
I should have, God knows, less power
To stay them by pleadings poor
     Than the mother who tried
          In woodland bower
     To hold from knighthood—
          His rightful dower—
Her boy, Sir Peredur!
For they know full well, as he knew,
How base is the touch of fear
     When tyrannous wrong
          Would right subdue;
     And they to me
          And themselves are true
When danger draweth near.
Oh, strong with the love I gave,
Their souls have the strength I give,
     Who have taught my sons
          To be pure and brave,
     Nor to fly the chance of a hero's grave,
Where, deathless, heroes live!
"Britannia" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in the Poetry Review (Great Britain) in 1914, and subsequently in Poems (1916) Volume 2.

From the Poetry Review (1914):
In this our second war number, we have the privilege of printing a patriotic poem by Florence Earle Coates, who has been described by the best authority as “the leading living poet of the United States.” Mrs. Coates was among the Americans delayed in England by the outbreak of war, and on the eve of her departure she called on us with this contribution as an expression of her admiration and feeling for Great Britain, and appreciation of the kindness she had received when over here. We believe this poem to be the first on the war by an American writer of eminence to be published in this country.
*Image facing p. 184 of The Literary Digest History of the World War (1919) Volume I. The original caption reads in part: "...The crowd was described at the time as 'one seething mass of humanity, surging down Constitution Hill and around the palace gates cheering with all its might.'"

Friday, September 1, 2017

WAR, a poem

THE serpent-horror writhing in her hair,
     And crowning cruel brows bent o'er the ground
     That she would crimson now from many a wound,
Medusa-like, I seem to see her there—
War! with her petrifying eyes astare—
     And can no longer listen to the sound
     Of song-birds in the harvest fields around;
Such prophecies do her mute lips declare.
Evils? Can any greater be than they
     That troop licentious in her brutal train?
          Unvindicated honour? She brings shame—
          Shame more appalling than men dare to name,
Betraying them that die and them that slay,
     And making of this earth a hell of pain!
"War" by Florence Earle Coates. Published in The Athenaeum on 8 August 1914, and subsequently published in Poems (1916) Volume II.

From Elizabeth Clendenning Ring’s “Florence Earle Coates: Some Phases of Her Life and Poetry.” (Book News Monthly. Dec 1917):
“[Mrs. Coates] vividly recalls an early August morning, in 1914, when she watched company after company of soldiers go marching along the quays of Marseilles, from a nearby barracks, to entrain for northern France.  With rhythmic beat, each man marked time with monotonous precision, as he pushed steadily ahead, with set, grave face, and eyes that glowed with strange fires, while the pulsating chords of the Marseillaise came tumbling down the breeze and fairly fell upon him, listening, half-dazed, as he tramped, to its savage, delirious appeal.  But something quivered about the tightly-compressed lips of those marching men, something lurked about the corners of their drawn mouths, that gave one the impression they longed to give utterance to the stark, tormenting things that tore at their heart strings. By iridescent word, by winged phrase, or poignant line, Mrs. Coates strives to voice the dumb questionings that struggled in the souls of those marching thousands in Marseilles, the dark splendor of the Fate upon which the world’s youth is so gaily, so gallantly, so bravely plunging, the shapeless horrors that dart out of the red murk, the shining idealism and the baleful realism of war...”

A month of war verse

The month of September will be dedicated to the war poetry of Florence Earle Coates. Mrs. Coates penned many war poems during World War I, and privately published a pamphlet of poetry in support of American involvement in the war entitled Pro Patria (1917). Poems will be listed daily.
TRENCHES AT LEAGUE ISLAND PHILADELPHIA. These Marines are training in a bombproof, one of a series of such trenches constructed at the League Island Navy Yard to duplicate the developments in construction abroad. [Photo and caption from p. 55 of Collier’s New Photographic History of the World’s War (1918).]
"...of special interest are her views on war, voiced in the poems scattered throughout her work, particularly those in ... 'Pro Patria,' that burn with a passionate fervor of patriotism, as stirring as the roll of drums at dawn." ("Florence Earle Coates: Some Phases of Her Life and Poetry" (1917) by Elizabeth Clendenning Ring)