The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: 19th century

“To Edith, on Her Birthday,” and a Happy Birthday to Mrs. Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli!

Today (May 23) marks the 208th anniversary of Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli’s birth. Although this famed 19th century female poet, women’s rights advocate, and transcendentalist may seem a familiar name to many readers, I implore you take a moment to observe the following passage, derived from a review of Fuller’s At Home and Abroad; or, Things and Thoughts in America and Europe, from Graham’s Magazine of April, 1856, which judiciously discusses her intellect and character,

MARGARET FULLER was, in intellect, one of the most remarkable women the country has produced, and, since her death, it has been demonstrated that her intellect was not more powerful than her heart was high and heroic. She was essentially a noble woman, who, for a long time, was judged, not by her mental accomplishments, but by her mental defects and foibles. She lacked geniality, and perhaps lacked genius; but, as a critic of art and literature—as a discourser on the loftiest themes of philosophy—as a scholar, and as a thinker, she deserved a heartier recognition than she received. Perhaps the enmities she provoked were due in some degree to her sturdy independence of thinking, an independence which was not always free from dogmatism, and was sometimes expressed with a contemptuous positiveness, which irritated those with whom she disagreed. But we can remember few instances in her writings of this self-asserting quality, in which she does not prove her right to positive opinions by thoroughness of research and depth of reflection (464).

Below you will find a poem extracted from Rufus Wilmot Griswold’s Female Poets of America, pg. 253, written by Fuller. I felt that the title alone was rather apropos, considering.

Margaret Fuller

If the same star our fates together bind,
Why are we thus divided, mind from mind?
If the same law one grief to both impart,
How couldst thou grieve a trusting mother’s heart?
Our aspiration seeks a common aim,
Why were we tempered of such differing frame?
—But ’tis too late to turn this wrong to right;
Too cold, too damp, too deep, has fallen the night!
And yet, the angel of my life replies—
“Upon that night a Morning Star shall rise,
Fairer than that which ruled the temporal birth,
Undimmed by vapors of the dreamy earth.”
It says, that, where a heart thy claim denies,
Genius shall read its secret ere it flies;
The earthly form may vanish from thy side,
Pure love will make thee still the Spirit’s bride.
And thou, ungentle, yet much-loving child,
Whose heart still shows the ‘untamed haggard wild,’
A heart which justly makes the highest claim,
Too easily is checked by transient blame;
Ere such an orb can ascertain its sphere,
The ordeal must be various and severe;
My prayers attend thee, though the feet may fly,
I hear thy music in the silent sky.

“Death” from the Ladies’ Companion, November, 1837

From the Ladies’ Companion, November, 1837

DEATH is a mighty conqueror,—
All seasons are his own ;
And o’er the pleasant fields of earth
His trophies wide are strewn.
As months and years swift glide away,
His kingdom doth extend ;
And ’till a Mightier One appears,
His conquests will not end.
Death is a stern and cruel foe,
To the thoughtless and the gay,
Who of the morrow never dream,
And live but for the day :
He calls the miser from his hoard,
The reveller from the feast,
And brings unto a common home,
The greatest and the least.
Death is a kind and gentle friend
To the lone and sad in heart,
Who from the busy scene of life
Are willing to depart.
The good man hath of him no fears,
The Christian dreads him not—
For in the quiet of his realm,
Their troubles are forgot.

“‘Far Away'” by Charles Fenno Hoffman

This poem has touched my heart for some years now. Whether Hoffman’s song was merely in imitation of the original 1833 piece published by Tom Rice, or inspired by George P. Morris’ own version, composed by Charles Edward Horn and published in 1839,* he has set his version apart in such a lyrically refreshing, original way that it stands on its own exceptionally well.

If you would like to hear this beautiful poem come to life, pair the lyrics with these outstanding covers I have found of the original and feel free to follow along,

Link One
Link Two

*Note: The title of the reworked version by Morris and Horn is “Near the Lake where drooped the Willow.” You can view the sheet music for their version here.

“Far Away”
Air—”Long time ago.”
Charles Fenno Hoffman

THE song—the song that once could move me
In life’s glad day—
The song of her who used to love me
Far—far away—
It makes my sad heart, fonder—fonder—
Wildly obey
The spell that wins each thought to wander
Far—far away !

Once more upon my native river
The moonbeams play,
Once more the ripples shine as ever
Far—far away—
But ah, the friends who smiled around me,
Where—where are they !
Where the sweet spell, that early bound me,
Far—far way ?

I think of all that hope once taught me—
Too bright to stay—
Of all that music fain had brought me,
Far—far away !
And weep to feel there’s no returning
Of that glad day,
Ere all that brightened life’s fresh morning
Was far—far away.

“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.

“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.