The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

“AIR,—’S Patrick’s Day” by James Gates Percival

AIR,—‘S. Patrick’s Day.
James Gates Percival
From The Life and Letters of James Gates Percival by J. H. Ward, pp. 447-448

Hail to the morning, when first he ascended,
The Jewel of Erin, the Saint and the Sage,—
O, long may the rays of his glory be blended,
In harmony clear, on the poet’s page.
Long may the sainted Patrick bless us,
Long as the flowers of Erin smile.
True-hearted Irishmen ever shall follow him,—
Ever pure prayers from warm bosoms shall hallow him,—
Praises resound through each consecrate pile;
And O, may his spirit awake to redress us,
And rescue from tyrants our sacred isle.

Hark to the voice, that through Connaught resounded,
Aloft from her mountain so high and so green!
It spake,—through that gem, by the bright ocean bounded,
No venomous creature again was seen.
Roses and shamrocks filled each valley,
Green waved the oak above each hill:
Health, in each eye, sparkled clear as the fountain;
Pure was each kiss, as the dew of the mountain;
Swelled every bosom with joy, to its fill,—
But O, he forgot, with his trusty shillelagh,
To crush that foul hydra, the worm of the still.

Hark to the voice, that, through Erin resounding,
Awakens the spirits of freemen again!
It calls, and the hearts of old Ireland are bounding,—
As they beat, snap the steel links of slavery’s chain!
Millions there wake to pride and glory,—
Think of their sires, the strong and free!
Millions, too, warm with a patriot’s devotion,
Send their fond wishes across the wide ocean,
Erin! O beautiful Erin! to thee;
For O, thou art rescued, and ever in story,
Thy Patrick and Matthew united shall be.

“August” by Francis Ledwidge

I’ve greatly enjoyed reading the poetry of Irish poet and soldier Francis Ledwidge as of late, so I anticipate uploading more of his work in the future. “August” is a personal favorite. Feel free to comment, I’d love your thoughts on Ledwidge. Are you already familiar with his work? Would you like to see more?


By Francis Ledwidge
From Songs of the Fields by Francis Ledwidge

SHE’LL come at dusky first of day,
White over yellow harvest’s song.
Upon her dewy rainbow way
She shall be beautiful and strong.
The lidless eye of noon shall spray
Tan on her ankles in the hay,
Shall kiss her brown the whole day long.

I’ll know her in the windrows, tall
Above the crickets of the hay.
I’ll know her when her odd eyes fall,
One May-blue, one November-grey.
I’ll watch her from the red barn wall
Take down her rusty scythe, and call,
And I will follow her away.

“The Passions” by Joseph Merrifield

The Passions
By Joseph Merrifield
From Godey’s Magazine, September 1853, pg. 264

How sweet, how soothing the relief,
To hearts oppressed with present grief,
In Memory’s retrospect to view
Those flowery scenes that once we knew!

The cord invisible that binds
In sympathy two kindred minds;
Where heart to heart responsive thrills,
Partaking mutual joys and ills.

The keenest shaft that Envy shoots—
A thought that Candor oft refutes—
A self-inflicted wound, we feel
That woman’s smile alone can heal.

Through memory oft a solace brings,
Recalling past and pleasant things,
Still memory’s pleasures ne’er can cope
With life’s sweet balmy soother—HOPE.

If ‘mongst the passions of the heart
LOVE held not much the greater part,
What would the other passions be?
A fleet of ships without a sea!

The darkest passion of the heart,
Where Rage and Hatred claim a part,
And deaf to Mercy’s pleading voice,
O’er prostrate Innocence rejoice!

The utmost depths of human woe
That mortal man can ever know—
By blighted hopes to madness driven,
He flies from earth, and forfeits heaven!

“My Mother’s Miniature” by Isa L. Jenkins

My Mother’s Miniature
By Isa L. Jenkins
From Godey’s Magazine, July, 1853, pg. 61

Faint picture, far more dear to me
Than all the treasures earth can give,
Since she, my all, hath ceased to be,
For whom it was my life to live.

Here I behold that faded cheek,
That calm, smooth brow and flowing hair,
The lips that spoke in tones so meek,
And breathed to heaven their fervent prayer.

Oh, she who ceaseless vigils kept
Above my path in faded years,
And o’er my waywardness hath wept,
Now soars beyond this vale of tears.

Yes, she who sought my heart to mould
For brighter climes and purer skies,
Now dwells where countless suns hath rolled,
Unmarked by years or centuries.

Yon moon, whose track the milky way,
Whose light still glimmers on the wave,
Through months hath cast its mellow ray
Upon her lone and dreary grave.

Thou sweet memento of the past,
A priceless treasure now thou art;
Through years to come, while life shall last,
I’ll keep and wear thee next my heart.

“Ambition” by John Neal

Here’s a poem, “Ambition,” penned by 19th-century author, poet, and all-around charismatic American ruffian John Neal. You will find two versions of the poem. The first one appears in an 1842 volume of poetry, whereas the second one is an earlier version dating to 1817. In both versions I find the last sentence of the last stanza to be of particular interest, as I think the different lines uniquely shape the conclusion of the poem. To me, the earlier version clarifies what he’s attempting to illustrate in the later version. You will find other noticeable differences throughout, especially in stanza two. 

By John Neal
From The Poets and Poetry of America, 1842, ed. Rufus W. Griswold

I loved to hear the war-horn cry,
And panted at the drum’s deep roll;
And held my breath, when—flaming high—
I saw our starry banners fly,
As challenging the haughty sky;
They went like battle o’er my soul:
For I was so ambitious then,
I burn’d to be a slave—of men.

I stood and saw the morning light,
A standard swaying far and free;
And loved it like the conquering flight
Of angels floating wide and bright,
Above the stars, above the fight
Where nations warr’d for liberty:
And though I heard the battle-cry
Of trumpets in the hollow sky.

I sail’d upon the dark-blue deep,
And shouted to the eagle soaring;
And hung me from a rocking steep,
When all but spirits were asleep;
And, O, my very soul would leap
To hear the gallant waters roaring;
For every sound and shape of strife
To me was but the breath of life.

But I am strangely alter’d now,—
I love no more the bugle’s voice—
The rushing wave—the plunging prow—
The mountain, with his clouded brow—
The thunder, when his blue skies bow,
And all the sons of God rejoice,—
I love to dream of tears and sighs,
And shadowy hair, and half-shut eyes.

From The Portico, Volume 3, pp. 252-253

I’ve loved to hear the war-horns cry,
And panted at the drums deep roll,
And held my breath, when flaming high,
I saw our starry banners fly,
As challenging the haughty sky.
They talk’d of battle to my soul;
For I was so advent’rous then
I burn’d to be—the slave of men.

I’ve look’d upon the morning light,
Flushing its standard far and free,
And seen it struggle with the night,
And loved it—for it told of fight,
And every flash that triumph’d bright,
Seem’d glance of glorious Liberty.
For I was fanciful and wild
As youthful Freedoms freest child.

I’ve sail’d upon the dark blue deep,
I’ve shouted to the eaglet soaring,
And hung me from a rocking steep,
When all but my spirits were asleep;
And oh! my very soul would leap
To hear its gallant waters roaring.
For every sound that told of life,
To me, was but the breath of strife.

But I am strangely alter’d now,
I love no more the bugles voice—
The rushing wave—the plunging prow—
The mountains tempest clouded brow—
The daring—the exulting flow
Of all that made me once rejoice.
I’ve learn’d to talk of tears and sights—
And locks of gold—and dying eyes.