The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Category: poetry

“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!

“The Pillars of Hercules” by Alexander Robertson

The Pillars of Hercules
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

Here was the halting-place in ancient days
For timorous craft: yet on this ocean vast
And that horizon which no ship had passed
Full often would men fix a curious gaze:
They could not deem the sunset shone on ought
Save this expanse of water: such a light
Some isles must bless beyond the reach of night
And fairer than the mind of man had thought.
Thus haply or through more than such regret,
As beyond death men trust there may be more
Of joy than life hath bought, so near this shore
They dared not leave, with wistful minds they set
Beyond the guardian terror of these seas
The beauty of the hid Hesperides.

Written while sailing on a troopship to Egypt.

“Rupert Brooke” by Alexander Robertson

Rupert Brooke
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

They whom thy blithe companionship had blest
Felt anguish at thy passing, though aware
They had no cause for grief, so wholly fair
Thy life to their remembrance, as thy rest,
Lulled by a far sea music, near the graves
Of sages old whose sun of wisdom beams
E’en yet; of those who taught thee love of dreams
And words melodious as the Aegean’s waves.
And because Death, although he stilled thy voice,
Hath found thee nobly careless in this hour
Of all thy gifts; therefore, despite his power
To rob the world of beauty, they rejoice
Almost, though in thy verses oft they found
The accent of great voices clear resound.

“Antigone” by Alexander Robertson

Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson 

Hath any read—and sorrowed not the while—
That tragic tale to men of Athens told
By famed Colonus’ son, in days of old,
Of him unwitting error did defile;
Of his loved daughter whom her father’s shame
Ne’er daunted that his fate she should not share
And journey with him, stricken low and bare
Of light and power? Nor could the tyrant tame
Her fearless soul with threat of dreadful doom;
Nor, when Ismene’s fortitude did wane,
To bury him whom else the fowls would gain
E’er shrank she, but his body did entomb.
What sire had ever daughter like to thee?
Or brother sister, great Antigone?

“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!”