The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

“A Common Scene” by Alfred B. Street

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John Frederick Kensett’s Summer Day on Consensus Lake

A Common Scene
Alfred B. Street
From The Poems of Alfred B. Street

The sky with silver throngs of sleeping clouds
Is spotted, and a harmony of hues
Azure and white, are there; a genial warmth
Burns in the sun glance; from that lowly vale
A smoke-wreath curls—a rustic chimney peeps
Through the thick foliage; in the furrowing field
The ploughman guides his team and whistles blithe;
Around the brink of that blue fairy lake
A laughing group of children stand to watch
That frail bark speeding with its tiny sail
Across the dimpling mirror; now it moors
Within yon knot of water-plants: from out
The tree that dances to the wind, a wren
Is warbling to its mate within a bush
The cattle lazily repose beneath
The meadow shade, or stoop to drink the rill
That freshens the green herbs. A summer scene
Common yet lovely.

From Alfred B. Street’s “The Walk and the Pic-nic”

From “The Walk and the Pic-nic
By Alfred B. Street
From The Poems of Alfred B. Street
Full poem here

…On this lap of green grass the white cloth is display’d,
A maple bends over its golden-streak’d shade;
We place cup and trencher—the viands are spread,
Whilst a pile of pine knots flame a pillar of red:
We slice the rich lemon, the gifts of the spring
Bubbling up in its cool sandy basin we bring,
The white glistening sugar, the butter, like gold
And the fruits of the garden, our baskets unfold,—
The raspberry bowl-shaped—the jet tiny cone
Of the blackberry, pluck’d from the thickets are strown:
All grace the grass-table—our cups mantle free
With the dark purple coffee, and light amber tea,
Wood, water, and bank, tongue the laugh and the jest,
And the goddess of mirth reigns supreme in each breast…

“Sonnet—the Unattained” by Elizabeth Oakes Smith

Sonnet—the Unattained
Elizabeth Oaksmith
From Graham’s Magazine, Vol. XXI, November, 1842

Is this, then, Life? Oh! are we born for this?
To follow phantoms that elude the grasp!
Or whatsoe’er secured, within our clasp
To withering lie! as if an earthly kiss
Were doomed Death’s shuddering touch alone to greet.
Oh Life! hast thou reserved no cup of bliss?
Must still the Unattained allure our feet?
The Unattained with yearnings fill the breast,
That rob, for aye, the spirit of its rest?
Yes, this is Life, and everywhere we meet,
Not victor crowns, but wailings of defeat—
Yet falter not, thou dost apply a test
That shall incite thee onward, upward still—
The present cannot sate, thy soul it cannot fill.

“Waiting” by Francis Ledwidge

Waiting
Francis Ledwidge
From The Complete Poems of Francis Ledwidge

A strange old woman on the wayside sate,
Looked far away and shook her head and sighed.
And when anon, close by, a rusty gate
Loud on the warm winds cried,
She lifted up her eyes and said, “You’re late.”
Then shook her head and sighed.

And evening found her thus, and night in state
Walked thro’ the starlight, and a heavy tide
Followed the yellow moon around her wait,
And morning walked in wide.
She lifted up her eyes and said, “You’re late.”
Then shook her head and sighed.

“At the Verge of June” by Clinton Scollard

At the Verge of June
Clinton Scollard
From the Churchman, Vol. 83, June 8, 1901

The lustrous days are long,
The nights divine, and now
Break buoyant bursts of song
From every bough.

And down the lonely lanes
Where sun and shadow sleep,
Unrutted by the wains,
And verdured deep.

Amid her tangled bowers
June’s loveliest nursling shows,
Blush-lady of the flowers—
The wilding rose!

And if thou shouldst once breathe
Its attar dewy-bland,
No charm will that bequeath
From Samarcand.

Nay, nor those scented rains
Of bright Egyptian bloom
That deck the fallen fanes
Of old Fayum!

So, at the verge of June,
When all God’s wide world glows,
I crave but this one boon—
The wilding rose!