The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

Tag: sonnet

“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.

“Sonnet (I’m tir’d of this mortality…)” by John William Polidori

Sonnet.
John W. Polidori
From Ximenes, the Wreathe, and Other Poems, pg. 165

I’m tir’d of this mortality—for years
I scorn’d this nature; for methought I saw
Nought but the marks of virtue caused by fears
Of what the stronger might make into law.
Methought that souls, like the cameleon’s skin,
Could every hue invest—the hero, knave,
Or any mask that could a purpose win,
Or help the various plot of passion’s slave.
And now that I have found some who perform
The noblest acts, not for the use alone,
But that their natures form’d in virtue’s mould.
I scorn mortality, which cannot form
A word worthy of virtue’s heavenly throne,
At such a sight my feeling’s to unfold.

“Sonnet (I know not how it is…)” by John William Polidori

Sonnet.*
John William Polidori (author of “The Vampyre”)
From Ximenes, the Wreath, and Other Poems, Pg. 164
*Written in the Album, at Costessey, after [Polidori’s] recovery from an accident, 1817.

I know not how it is—you gave me life!
Yet, can’t my heart find words my lips may speak,
In thanks for such a gift?—vain, vain’s the strife!
The feeling’s strong!—for it words are weak.—
No muse of Helicon can here avail—
No muse-inspiring god can help me now!
They only aid when fiction forms her tale,
Or give a verse when all but feelings flow.—
Then where to look, if not to him alone,
Who touch’d Isaiah’s mouth with burning coal,
If thus he deign’d to touch my lips with fire—
Not then as now—I’d seem a breathing stone;—
But as I feel would speak, and show my soul
Well knows what all your kindness should inspire.

“Sonnet: ‘Some Fell by the Wayside'” by Elizabeth Oakes Smith

Sonnet: “Some Fell by the Wayside”
Also known as “The Pilgrim”
Elizabeth Oakes Smith
From Graham’s Magazine, April, 1844, pg. 150

Not yet, not yet, oh pilgrim! cast aside
The dusty sandal, and the well-worn staff;
Athirst and fainting, yet must thou abide
One peril more—and strength in thy behalf
Shall once again be born—it is the last!
Thou sinkest by the lonely wayside down,
And life, o’erspent and weary, ebbeth past.
The lengthening shadows on thy path are thrown,
And thou wouldst rest, forgetful of life’s dream,
Deluding, vain, and empty, and here die.
Not yet! not yet! there still is left one gleam
To onward lure thy too despairing eye;
Gird on thy staff, the shrine is yet unworn;
Oh! lose not thou the prize, by this last work undone.

“Sonnet” by Charles Henry Foster

Sonnet.
C. H. F. [Charles Henry Foster]
From the Knickerbocker, Volume 49, March, 1857, pg. 233.

‘Die Seele ist Konigin.’

IT matters not to me how fine a brain
My neighbor’s mind may dwell in: his discourse
May bear the deftest witchery, and its force
May make all rival argument in vain.
This is not highest: for the sophists train
The human reason to such skill in fence
As to o’er-match the sure report of sense,
And over very Truth some victory gain.
Not of the first estate are these fair powers,
Wit, fancy, genius, graceful poesy:
But to a mistress worthier than they all,
Gay, gallant courtiers of those mortal hours;
They bow in homage. Noble though they be,
The soul alone is queen—the heart her regal hall.

Augusta, (Maine.)