The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: poetry

“A Valentine” by Elizabeth F. Ellet

A Valentine
By Elizabeth Fries Ellet
From The Opal, 1849

When Memnon’s silent form the god of day,
Touched at his rising with his glance of fire,
A music as from harps that seraphs play
Thrilled soft and golden from that silent lyre.

All cold—the fable says—Pygmalion’s stone,
Till clasped the statue to the artist breast—
And life’s warm current, pouring from his own,
Weakened the statue from its soulless rest!

Thus dull and cold my heart—till inspiration,
Sweet lady, from your radiant smile it drew;
Ah, list the music of its low vibration—
It murmurs but one song—and sings of you!

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“The Vision of the Doe” by Sir Oscar Oliphant

The Vision of the Doe
Sir Oscar Oliphant
From Collected Poems by Sir Oscar Oliphant

Methought I saw upon the green sward laid,
Where two broad rivers to the ocean wound,
A milk-white doe with golden antlers crown’d,
Shunning the hot sun ‘neath a laurel’s shade.
Such coy and gentle pride was in her air
I left all else to track her footsteps light,
Like the fond miser, who with the delight
Of seeking treasure sweetens all its care.
Around her lovely neck a legend strange
Was wrought with topazes and diamonds bright—
Let no one touch me: Free for aye to range
My Cæsar’s love hath given his favourite.

With tired yet sateless eyes I gazed till noon,
When in the stream I fell—and straight the doe was gone.

“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.