The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Category: 19th century

“Calm Be Her Sleep” by William Jones


Calm Be Her Sleep!
William Jones
From Bentley’s Miscellany, Volume 13, pg. 595

Calm be her sleep! as the breast of the ocean,
When the sun is reclining upon its still wave;
She dreams not of life, nor its stormy commotion,
For the surges of trouble recede from her grave!

Calm be her sleep! as the winds that are sighing
Their last faintest echo amid the green trees;
No murmur can reach her—unconsciously lying,
She heeds not the tempest, she hears not the breeze!

Calm be her sleep! as the flower that closes
Its beautiful petal in night’s chilling air!
She has folded her shroud too, and sweetly reposes—
Oh! far be the sorrow that dimm’d one so fair!

Calm be her sleep! as the whisper of even,
When the hands have been clasp’d, and the knees bent in pray’r:
She has chanted her hymn at the portal of heaven,
And found the affection denied to her here!

Calm be her sleep! may the breathing of slander
O’ershade not the pillow bedew’d with our tears!
Away from her turf may the cruel words wander
That clothed her young spirit in darkness and fears!

Calm be her sleep! may the tall grass wave lightly
Above the meek bosom that bless’d us of yore;
Like a bird, it has found out a region more brightly
To nestle its pinion,—but glad us no more!

“Facilis Decensus Avenue” by George Arnold


Facilis Decensus Avenue
George Arnold
From Vanity Fair, May 26, 1860

“We see that one of our fashionable tailors has broken ground in Fifth Avenue, and converted one of the fine mansions there, into a magazine of garments…In a short time we may expect to see most of the magnificent private residences in this avenue converted into retail stores and shops.”—Herald.

According to popular talk
The Palatial street of New-York
Is falling from grace
At a terrible pace!
I hear, when I promenade there,
Strange voices of grief in the air,
And I fancy I see
The sad sisters three,
With their black trailing dresses,
And dishevelled tresses,
Go solemn and slow
To and fro
In their woe,
And crying
“Eheu! Eheu! Eheu!
There’s a Tailor in FIFTH-AVENUE!”

O, sorry and sad was the day
When this Tailor came up from Broadway,
With his stitches,
And breeches,
His shears and his goose—
His fashions profuse—
To the house that has been
In years I have seen,
Most aristocratic
From basement to attic!
But gone are the flush and the fair,
And those voices still float in the air
And crying
“Eheu! Eheu! Eheu!
There’s a Tailor in FIFTH-AVENUE!”

Where sweet CRINOLINA once slept,
The sempstresses, maybe, are kept;
And perhaps in her dressing-room, where
Her maid combed that glistening hair
Some cross-legged fellow,
Round-shouldered and yellow,
May sit with his needle and thread;
For the glory that reigned there, has fled!
How oft to that door she ascended—
When the ball or the party was ended—
Flushed, beautiful, bright,
A Queen of delight,
An angel quite worthy of heaven—
To that door, now, a tailor’s-cart’s driven!
No wonder that voice cries “Eheu!”
There’s a Tailor in FIFTH AVENUE!

Then where shall the flush and the fair
Find refuge? Ah, Echo says, “Where?”
There are dentists in Madison Square,
The boarding-house, too, appears there,
And I’ve heard,
In a word,
That some kind of factory, or mill
Was soon to disturb MURRAY HILL!
Now if fashion must be
(And it seems so, to me)
Crowded upward each year,
I very much fear
They’ll be shoved—and the thought makes me shiver—
Off the Island and into the river!
And crying,
“Eheu! Eheu! Eheu!
There’s a Tailor in FIFTH AVENUE!”

“Sonnet (I’m tir’d of this mortality…)” by John William Polidori

John W. Polidori
From Ximenes, the Wreathe, and Other Poems, pg. 165

I’m tir’d of this mortality—for years
I scorn’d this nature; for methought I saw
Nought but the marks of virtue caused by fears
Of what the stronger might make into law.
Methought that souls, like the cameleon’s skin,
Could every hue invest—the hero, knave,
Or any mask that could a purpose win,
Or help the various plot of passion’s slave.
And now that I have found some who perform
The noblest acts, not for the use alone,
But that their natures form’d in virtue’s mould.
I scorn mortality, which cannot form
A word worthy of virtue’s heavenly throne,
At such a sight my feeling’s to unfold.

“Sonnet (I know not how it is…)” by John William Polidori

John William Polidori (author of “The Vampyre”)
From Ximenes, the Wreath, and Other Poems, Pg. 164
*Written in the Album, at Costessey, after [Polidori’s] recovery from an accident, 1817.

I know not how it is—you gave me life!
Yet, can’t my heart find words my lips may speak,
In thanks for such a gift?—vain, vain’s the strife!
The feeling’s strong!—for it words are weak.—
No muse of Helicon can here avail—
No muse-inspiring god can help me now!
They only aid when fiction forms her tale,
Or give a verse when all but feelings flow.—
Then where to look, if not to him alone,
Who touch’d Isaiah’s mouth with burning coal,
If thus he deign’d to touch my lips with fire—
Not then as now—I’d seem a breathing stone;—
But as I feel would speak, and show my soul
Well knows what all your kindness should inspire.

“The Two Hungry Kittens” by Theodore Tilton


Playing Cat and Mouse by John Henry Dolph

The Two Hungry Kittens.1
By Theodore Tilton
From the Complete Poetical Works of Theodore Tilton in One Volume…

Two Kittens grew hungry with licking their feet,
And ran around snooping for something to eat.

‘Me-ow!‘ said the Curly-tail, ‘milk would be nice.’
‘Ska-fitch!‘ cried the Smutty-nose, ‘shall eat mice!’

The house of the mice was a hole in the floor,
Too small for the kits to get in at the door.

So down in a corner they silently sat,
And waited awhile for the mice to grow fat.

‘Who comes?’ cried a beautiful mouse, at her cheese.
The kittens replied, ‘We are rats, if you please.’

‘Not rats!’ said the nibbler, ‘your paws are not pink,
Your eyes are too big, and your tails have a kink.’

‘Come out,’ quoth the kits, ‘and our tails and our eyes
Will then look exactly the natural size!—

‘Sweet mouse, we invite you to go to the fair,
And you shall have plenty of combs in your hair.’

Said mousie, ‘Excuse me, for am engaged!’
At which the two kittens were fiercely enraged.

They flew at the mouse-hole, they awfully squalled,
They fought one another, they tumbled, they sprawled,

They twisted their whiskers, they tangled their tails—
Till down came the dairymaid bringing her pails!

A pail in each hand! And her hands they were two
And so were her pails, and the milk it was new,—

The curd it was white, and the cream it was thin,—
And both the two kittens they each tumbled in!—

And scat! cried the maid with a terrible shout,
And both the two kittens they each tumbled out!

The mice and the kittens no longer are friends,
Which every one knows, so the story here ends!

1 This was written to be recited at a picnic of young children.