The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Category: poetry

“March View from Hillside” by William H. C. Hosmer

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Claude Monet, Ice Floes

March View from Hillside
W. H. C. Hosmer
From Later Lays and Lyrics

The air is chill—the lake lies spread
Paler than shroud that wraps the dead;
Save its mid-current, blue as steel,
While spray drops whiten, and congeal.
Oh! how unlike its summer dress,
A sheet of azure loveliness,
In which the swallow dips his wings,
And breaks its breast, in rippling rings,
When the scared water-fowl upsprings!
The trees along its frozen shore
Wear not the look in June they wore,
Flinging deep shade the greensward o’er,
With leaf harps trembling when the breeze
To music woke their emerald keys.

Conesus! in my younger days,
I looked on gently sloping farms,
Rich frame-work for thy silvery charms,
With fixed, enamored gaze;
Sails gleaming on thy crystal sheet,
Glanced on the sight, and disappeared,
As if by airy phantoms steered,
And Nature woke no sound more sweet
Than the low, lulling measured beat
Of foam-flaked, undulating swells
On glittering sands inlaid with shells.

Old legends cling to lake and shore,
But they inspire my lay no more,
Though, in my younger, happier years,
While sighed the wind among the pines,
And old oaks with their clinging vines
I heard, methought, the talk of seers,
And sachems, near the “Haunted Spring,”
To listeners in the council ring;
Or when wan moonlight flecked the waters
Would spirit barks, to fancy’s eye
Filled with the greenwood’s dusky daughters,
Float without oar or paddle by.

How changed the scene! a cloud arch
Borrows no lustre from the morn,
While that wild trumpeter, young March,
Is blowing on his battle-horn.
Less dread was Winter’s iron reign,
And bleak and bare lie ridge and plain,
While Hillside Farm is sad to-day
Beneath a sky of leaden gray,
For nevermore will walk as lord,
My friend upon its meadow sward,
And look upon a landscape round
In mellow Autumn unexcelled,
And dreamy, like enchanted ground,
In Summer time beheld:
But mid these scenes, renowned in song,
His memory will be cherished long;
For here his rural home he made,
the landscape by his presence graced,
And leaves behind to view displayed,
In wintry gloom, or summer shade,
Marks of his elegance and taste.

Hillside, March 6, 1866.

“Verses for Easter” by W. H. C. Hosmer

Verses for Easter
William Howe Cuyler Hosmer
From Later Lays and Lyrics

“The ostrich leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust.” Job—xxix : 14

———

I.
Unstudied verses let me weave,
While ring the bells of Easter Eve,
And eggs of many hues that gleam,
Gifts to the children, be my theme!

II.
By Job, that holy man of old,
Of the wild ostrich we are told,
Who hides beneath the covering sand,
Her bright eggs in a weary land,

III.
In grave unmarked by mortal eye,
In the mute dust, her treasures lie,
Until the desert sun imparts
A vital heat to embryo hearts.

IV.
Globed are the coffins that confine
Th’ unsheltered brood by law divine,
And after burial, all unheard
Is mourning by the mother-bird.

V.
When her maternal task is wrought
She speeds away by instinct taught
That One who marks the sparrow’s fall
Sepulchral seeds to life will call.

VI.
Types of the resurrection morn
Rise the young birdlings, desert-born,
And, though a mother’s care denied,
Eternal love will food provide.

VII.
Thus faith consigns, in holy trust,
Her loved and lost to burial dust,
Assured, though gone the quick’ning breath,
That endless life is born of death.

“The Fast Mail” by John E. Dolan

The Fast Mail
John E. Dolan
Unknown source (I found this poem pasted to a book board from the 1800s)

Now it thunders through the night,
Heralded by cone of light;
Trailing comet tail of smoke
Leaping to each piston stroke;
Every tortured nerve of steel
Strained to speed its driving wheel;
Freeing in its bowels of flame
Force that lived before man came;
Dragging in its roaring train
Hope and fear, and joy and pain,
Schemes most vile, and projects blessed,
News from Orient and West.
Pausing not to drop its load,
Rushing on its iron road,
Still it holds its headlong pace—
Symbol of a restless race!

“A Valentine” by Elizabeth F. Ellet

A Valentine
By Elizabeth Fries Ellet
From The Opal, 1849

When Memnon’s silent form the god of day,
Touched at his rising with his glance of fire,
A music as from harps that seraphs play
Thrilled soft and golden from that silent lyre.

All cold—the fable says—Pygmalion’s stone,
Till clasped the statue to the artist breast—
And life’s warm current, pouring from his own,
Weakened the statue from its soulless rest!

Thus dull and cold my heart—till inspiration,
Sweet lady, from your radiant smile it drew;
Ah, list the music of its low vibration—
It murmurs but one song—and sings of you!

“The Vision of the Doe” by Sir Oscar Oliphant

The Vision of the Doe
Sir Oscar Oliphant
From Collected Poems by Sir Oscar Oliphant

Methought I saw upon the green sward laid,
Where two broad rivers to the ocean wound,
A milk-white doe with golden antlers crown’d,
Shunning the hot sun ‘neath a laurel’s shade.
Such coy and gentle pride was in her air
I left all else to track her footsteps light,
Like the fond miser, who with the delight
Of seeking treasure sweetens all its care.
Around her lovely neck a legend strange
Was wrought with topazes and diamonds bright—
Let no one touch me: Free for aye to range
My Cæsar’s love hath given his favourite.

With tired yet sateless eyes I gazed till noon,
When in the stream I fell—and straight the doe was gone.