The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: 19th century 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.

“The Streamlet” by Charles Fenno Hoffman

Hoffman’s “The Streamlet” is a refreshing quatrain, one which is compact with bright imagery and languid movement. The core of his message focuses on likening the course of life to a streamlet—ever-flowing and carrying us on through the trials of life unto death, where we may thus perpetually glide on. Albeit simple in nature, this poem succinctly encapsulates Hoffman’s message in a refreshing way through his imagery, as forementioned, thus, in our opinion, making it a delightful read.

The Streamlet.
Charles Fenno Hoffman

HOW silently yon streamlet slides
From out the twilight-shaded bowers !
How, soft as sleep, it onward glides
In sunshine through its dreaming flowers.

That tranquil wave, now turn’d to gold
Beneath the slowly westering sun,
It is the same, far on the wold,
Whose foam this morn we gazed upon.

The leaden sky, the barren waste,
The torrent we this morning knew,
How changed are all ! as now we haste
To bid them, with the day, adieu !

Ah ! thus should life and love at last
Grow bright and sweet when death is near :
May we, our course of trial pass’d,
Thus bathed in beauty glide from here !

“The Invitation” from The New-York Mirror 1837, 1841

I happened upon this pretty verse today while looking through literature and news of yonder-year in The New-York Mirror. You’ll find two versions of the same poem. I decided to include the second one as it shows improvement and proves to be quite different from the first. I can’t find any evidence of the author, although, as far as I’m able to see, the “W.” initial changes to a more indicative “M. W. M.”[?]. If you have ideas of who the author might be, please do comment, I’m very curious.

The Invitation
October 14, 1837

Come to me ere the sad leaves fall,
And the shrill winds whistle by ;
Ere Autumn’s gorgeous coronal
Changes its ruby dye.

Ere the sunset glories waste away—
Of violet, gold, and pearl—
Ere the streamlet stills its murm’ring lay,
And sweet waves cease to curl.

Ere the song-birds wend their certain flight,
Far through the silent sky,
To where more genial climes requite
Their thrilling melody.

Come, oh, come, to my cottage-home !
Thou’ll find thy Ellen’s heart
Spell-binding as a spirit-gnome—
Nor shalt thou ere depart !

The Invitation
M. W. M.[?]
Dedicated to Mrs. Royal R. Porter, of Boston.
April 10, 1841

Come to me ere the sad leaves fall
And the shrill winds whistle by ;
Ere autumn’s gorgeous coronal
Changes its ruby dye.
Ere the sunset glories fade away
And but in mem’ry glow,
Or th’ streamlet stills its murm’ring lay
And free waves cease to flow !

Ere th’ song-birds wend their social flight
Far through the distant sky,
To where more genial climes invite
Their thrilling melody.
Come, then, through tinted groves we’ll roam,
Where the rainbow’s spirit dwell—
Presiding o’er my peaceful home,
Glad hills, and dreamy dells.

“November” by Hartley Coleridge, With a Brief Sketch of the Author


David Hartley Coleridge, known commonly as Hartley Coleridge, was a nineteenth century poet, critic, biographer, essayist, and, for a brief time, teacher. Born in England in 1796, he was the eldest son of the well-known Samuel Taylor Coleridge (source). Although Coleridge struggled with maintaining a unique image and reputation from that of his father’s, the culmination of his work up until his death in 1849 left him certainly accomplished enough to separate himself from his father’s esteemed legacy.

Of his skill as a writer and generally regarding the character of Hartley Coleridge, his brother, Derwent, explains,

A resemblance in kind is discernable, more especially if the comparison [between Hartley and their father, Samuel] be made with the earlier productions of the elder Coleridge, though this is not so striking as the contrast exhibited on the whole. A wit and a humorist, a keen observer,  and a deep but not a sustained or comprehensive thinker; intensely subjective, or at least introspective, yet not disposed to dwell in pure abstractions; seeing the universal in the individual, yet resting in the individual rather than the universal; acute and sagacious, often under the disguise or paradox; playful and tender, with a predominance of the fancy over the imagination, yet capable of the deepest pathos; clear, rapid, and brilliant, the qualities of his mind may almost be regarded as supplemental to those by which his father’s later and more elaborate productions are distinguished (Coleridge xx).

During his impressionable boyhood years, Hartley acquainted himself with figures such as Sir Walter Scott and Wordsworth, which,

…made an indelible impression upon his mind, the effect being immediately apparent in the complexion of those extraordinary day-dreams in which he passed his visionary boyhood, and to which he was wont to transfer whatever struck his fancy or stimulated his intellect in actual life. Nothing remained for him upon the earth to which it belonged. The scenery at his feet he beheld mirrored a floating cloud, when it became for him more real and important than the matter-of-fact world in which he had to live (xl-xli).

Although the poem I have transcribed for this post does not fully display the unique, seemingly eccentric and dreamy qualities of this gentleman, it provides a keyhole to peer into scattered hints of sombre and mournful imagery, characteristic of the mystical world Coleridge had created for himself.

Hartley Coleridge

The mellow year is hasting to its close;
The little birds have almost sung their last,
Their small notes twitter in the dreary blast—
That shrill-piped harbinger of early snows;
The patient beauty of the scentless rose,
Oft with the morn’s hoar crystal quaintly glass’d,
Hangs, a pale mourner for the summer past,
And makes a little summer where it grows.
In the chill sunbeam of the faint brief day
The dusky waters shudder as they shine;
The russet leaves obstruct the straggling way
Of oozy brooks, which no deep banks define;
And the gaunt woods, in ragged, scant array,
Wrap their old limbs with sombre ivy twine.

“Autumn Woods” by William Cullen Bryant

This poem does not require an extravagant (or in my case, pseudo-extravagant) explanation. Please simply enjoy. —Ann

Autumn Woods
Willam Cullen Bryant

Ere, in the northern gale,
The summer tresses of the trees are gone,
The woods of Autumn, all around our vale,
Have put their glory on.

The mountains that infold,
In their wide sweep, the coloured landscape round,
Seem groups of giant kings, in purple and gold,
That guard the enchanted ground.

I roam the woods that crown
The upland, where the mingled splendours glow,
Where the gay company of trees look down
On the green fields below.

My steps are not alone
In these bright walks; the sweet south-west, at play,
Flies, rustling, where the painted leaves are strown
Along the winding way.

And far in heaven, the while,
The sun, that sends that gale to wander here,
Pours out on the fair earth his quiet smile,–
The sweetest of the year.

Where now the solemn shade,
Verdure and gloom where many branches meet;
So grateful, when the noon of summer made
The valleys sick with heat?

Let in through all the trees
Come the strange rays; the forest depths are bright?
Their sunny-coloured foliage, in the breeze,
Twinkles, like beams of light.

The rivulet, late unseen,
Where bickering through the shrubs its waters run,
Shines with the image of its golden screen,
And glimmerings of the sun.

But ‘neath yon crimson tree,
Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame,
Nor mark, within its roseate canopy,
Her blush of maiden shame.

Oh, Autumn! why so soon
Depart the hues that make thy forests glad;
Thy gentle wind and thy fair sunny noon,
And leave thee wild and sad!

Ah! ’twere a lot too blessed
For ever in thy coloured shades to stray;
Amid the kisses of the soft south-west
To rove and dream for aye;

And leave the vain low strife
That makes men mad–the tug for wealth and power,
The passions and the cares that wither life,
And waste its little hour.