The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Category: poetry

“Good Night” by Sarah Josepha Hale


Good Night
By Sarah Josepha Hale
From The School Song Book: Adapted to the Scenes of the School Room, Written for American Children and Youth by Sarah J. Hale

Good night—Good night—and peace be with you—
Peace, that gentlest parting strain;
Soft it falls like dew on blossoms,
Cherishing within our bosoms,
Kind desires to meet again:
Good night—Good night.

Good night—Good night—but not forever,
Hope can see the morning rise,
Many a pleasant scene before us,
As though angels hovered o’er us,
Bearing blessings from the skies:
Good night—Good night.

Good night—Good night—oh, softly breath it!
‘Tis a prayer for those we love;
Peace to-night and joy to-morrow,
For our God, who shields the sparrow,
Hears us in his courts above:
Good night—Good night.

“A New Fable for Critics” from the Knickerbocker Magazine

I’m not sure if this related in any way to James Russell Lowell’s book/poem A Fable for Critics. Regardless, it offers its own kick. 

A New Fable for Critics
By Charles Desmarais(?) G——
From the Knickerbocker, March 1857, pg. 280

A RUGGED crust of sterile soil
Once mocked a rustic’s stubborn toil:
The scarce-hid rocks the plough-share feel,
And angry sparks snap at the steel,
And fright the oxen from the path,
And rouse the bumpkin’s stupid wrath.
He spurns the sod with moody curse,
And, growling, swears there ‘s ne’er a worse—
More useless—good-for-nothing lump
Of stone, on all the world’s broad hump;
Then, on his beasts, with coward goad,
He vents his rage and seeks the road.

Ere long, a scholar, travel sore,
But learned in all the mystic lore
Of Nature’s secret laws, most wise
In all Art’s wondrous mysteries,
Upon this barren glebe at length
Was fain to rest for lack of strength;
And on the furrowed crust he flings
His weary limbs like slackened strings:
His listless hand awhile, uneyed,
Toys with the pebbles at his side,
Till instinct, (like a memory stung
To sudden life by something sung—
Some echo of a sound, once woke
A central nerve’s electric stroke,)
Rings on the tymbral of his ear,
A tinkle he was wont to hear
When on some metal’s hidden track,
Of yore, his hammer’s head would crack:
His eye that smouldered dull but now
Flashes beneath his heated brow;
With miser’s grip his agile hand
Snatches the pebbles from the sand;
With microscopic power he strains
His vision on the flinty grains;
Then, leaping from his couch of mould,
He shouts in triumph: ‘Gold! gold! gold!’

The truth by which we might the happiest live
Is, ‘Human wisdom is comparative:’
The fear by which we should be oftenest nudged
Would seem to be: ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’;
And last, not least, methinks the trustiest ‘saw’
Is this, Opinion’s but a thatch of straw,
Which, to conceal our want, in vain we raise;
A neighbor scrapes a match—lo! it is all a-blaze!

Phil. Dec. 16, 1856.

“The winds of March are humming” by Fitz-Greene Halleck

This plaintive (or is it humorous) parody of Thomas Moore’s “To Ladies’ Eyes” was written by 19th century poet and Byron scholar Fitz-Greene Halleck.

You can click here to find accompanying sheet music, originally scored for Moore’s poem. 

SONG, or The winds of March are humming
By Fitz-Greene Halleck
From Fanny: With Other Poems, pp. 111-114

Air, “To ladies eyes a round, boy.”

THE winds of March are humming
Their parting song, their parting song,
And summer’s skies are coming,
And days grow long, and days grow long.
I watch, but not in gladness,
Our garden tree, our garden tree;
It buds, in sober sadness,
Too soon for me, too soon for me.
My second winter’s over,
Alas! and I, alas! and I
Have no accepted lover:
Don’t ask me why, don’t ask me why.

‘Tis not asleep or idle
That love has been, that love has been;
For many a happy bridal
The year has seen, the year has seen;
I’ve done a bridemaid’s duty,
At three or four, at three or four;
My best bouquet had beauty,
Its donor more, its donor more.
My second winter’s over,
Alas! and I, alas! and I
Have no accepted lover:
Don’t ask me why, don’t ask my why.

His flowers my bosom shaded
One sunny day, one sunny day;
The next, they fled and faded,
Beau and bouquet, beau and bouquet.
In vain, at ball and parties,
I’ve thrown my net, I’ve thrown my net;
This waltzing, watching heart is
Unchosen yet, unchosen yet.
My second winter’s over,
Alas! and I, alas! and I
Have no accepted lover:
Don’t ask my why, don’t ask me why.

They tell me there’s no hurry
For Hymen’s ring, for Hymen’s ring;
And I’m too young to marry:
‘Tis no such thing, ’tis no such thing.
The next spring tides will dash on
My eighteenth year, my eighteenth year;
It puts me in a passion,
Oh dear, oh dear! oh dear, oh dear!
My second winter’s over,
Alas! and I, alas! and I
Have no accepted lover:
Don’t ask me why, don’t ask me why.

“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.