Florence Earle Coates (1850-1927)

"She is prominent in Philadelphia literary life, and has a pleasant home in Germantown; her husband is president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  Morning appeared in Lippincott's and Sappho in the Atlantic ." (Crandall)


I woke and heard the thrushes sing at dawn,—
A strangely blissful burst of melody,
A chant of rare, exultant certainty,
Fragrant, as springtime breaths, of wood and lawn.
Night's eastern curtains still were closely drawn;
No roseate flush predicted pomps to be,
Or spoke of morning loveliness to me,
But, for those happy birds,—the night was gone!

Darkling they sang, nor guessed what care consumes
Man's questioning spirit; heedless of decay,
They sang of joy and dew-embalmèd blooms.
My doubts grew still, doubts seemed so poor while they,
Sweet worshipers of light, from leafy glooms
Poured forth transporting prophecies of day.

Let Me Believe

Let me believe you, love, or let me die!
If on your faith I may not rest secure,
Beyond all chance of peradvenure sure,
Trusting your half avowals sweet and shy,
As trusts the lark the pallid, dawn-lit sky
Then would I rather in some grave obscure
Repose forlorn, than, living on, endure
A question each dear transport to belie.

It is a pain to thirst and do without
A pain to suffer what we deem unjust,
To win a joy and lay it in the dust;
But there's a fiercer pain,—the pain of doubt:
From other griefs Death sets the spirit free:
Doubt steals the light from immortality!


As a wan weaver in an attic dim,
Hopeless yet patient, so he may be fed
With scanty store of sorrow-seasoned bread,
Heareth a blithe bird carol over him,
And sees no longer walls and rafters grim,
But rural lanes where little feet are led
Through springing flowers, fields with clover spread,
Clouds, swan-like, that o'er depths of azure swim,—

So when upon our earth-dulled ear new breaks
Some fragment, Sappho, of thy skyey song,
A noble wonder in our souls awakes;
The deathless Beautiful draws strangely nigh,
And we look up and marvel how so long
We were content to drudge for sordid joys that die.

(Above texts from Representative Sonnets by American Poets)

The Unconquered Air



Others endure Man's rule: he therefore deems
I shall endure it—I the unconquered Air!
Imagines this triumphant strength may bear
His paltry sway!  yea, ignorantly dreams,
Because proud Rhea now his vassal seems,
And Neptune him obeys in billowy lair,
That he a more sublime assault may dare,
Where blown by tempest wild the vulture screams!
Presumptuous, he mounts:  I toss his bones
Back from the height supernal he has braved:
Ay, as his vessel nears my perilous zones,
I blow the cockle-shell away like chaff
And give him to the Sea he has enslaved.
He founders in its depths; and then I laugh!



Impregnable I held myself, secure
Against intrusion.  Who can measure Man?
How should I guess his mortal will outran
Defeat so far that danger could allure
For its own sake?—that he would all endure,
All sacrifice, all suffer, rather than
Forego the daring dreams Olympian
That prophesy to him of victory sure?
Ah, tameless Courage!—dominating power
That, all attempting, in a deathless hour
Made earth-born Titans godlike, in revolt!—
Fear is the fire that melts Icarian wings:
Who fears nor Fate, nor Time, nor what Time brings,
May drive Apollo's steeds, or wield the thunderbolt!

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