The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

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!

“The North Pirate and His Mistress” by Sir Oscar Oliphant

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The Damsel and Orlando by Benjamin West

The North Pirate and His Mistress
Sir Oscar Oliphant
From Collected Poems by Sir Oscar Oliphant

SHE.
Our galley, how madly she darts on her way!
Her bows and her bulwarks are streaming with spray;
Her lofty yards buckle, and bends the tall mast;
O save me, my love, from the strength of the blast!

O save me, my dearest! not such is the breeze,
That scarcely awakens a curl on the seas,
When rich with the perfumes of Araby’s sky,
The noon’s fiery pinions float languidly by.

I love the light breezes that blow from that strand,
They tell of the sweets of my own native land;
But my heart sinks within me, I shrink when comes forth
The keen bitter voice of the boisterous north.

HE.
Nay, tremble not, loved one, for steady, though strong,
Is the breeze that I hail, as it bears us along,
Its voice, as it sweeps o’er the moonlight-lit sea,
Is more dear than the gales of Arabia to me.

The air that hangs heavy and landing at noon,
In passionate gusts may awaken too soon;
And the sail that scarce swells to its breathing at morn,
May at eve, by its fury, be shattered and torn.

I love the proud tones of the shadowy north
When it takes o’er the billows its mighty march forth;
I bow to its presence, fit veil for the forms
Of the spirits that dwell in my island of storms.