Archive for ‘19th Century’

Saturday, 7 January 2023

Stanzas by John Hobart Caunter

[Written in India.]

Ye callous worldlings! ye who cry ‘Gainst Love’s celestial sway,
Who mock at Sensibility,
And turn in scorn away;
Rais’d not for you the lowly strain,
‘Tis sung to Beauty’s ear—
E’en Orpheus’ lyre were tun’d in vain,
Had such as you been near.

Forbear ye Prudes, long mark’d by age,
With wrinkles, spleen, and spite,
To vent on Youth your churlish rage,
Where Love begets delight!
For you, ye frigid, bearded Maids,
The sigh was never heav’d—
Now go and mumble o’er your beads,
Of ev’ry hope bereav’d:

And learn, tho’ in Life’s latter stage,
That tenderness of heart
Is priz’d in ev’ry gen’rous age:
But learn it to your smart,
That had ye felt as others feel,
To whom Love’s pow’r is known,
On earth ye might have found a Heav’n,
Now Hell* is all your own.

*The vestal sisterhood are said to lead Apes in Hell.

From: Caunter, John Hobart, The Cadet; A Poem, in six parts: containing remarks on British India. To which is added, Egbert and Amelia; in four parts: with other poems, 1814, Robert Jennings: London, pp. 167-168.

Date: 1814

By: John Hobart Caunter (1792-1851)

Thursday, 5 January 2023

A Thought by Richard McDonald Caunter

I know not, but in grief there often lurks
A tenderness that blunts its keener edge,
And makes us love to woo it for a while,
When the heart feels an aching void within,
And has no zest for joy. And what is joy
But a wild ferment of the excited mind,
Which the least breath of sorrow overturns,
And chases from us, like the vapoury mist,
Which flees before the rising summer sun?
I court it not;—it is a hollow friend
That only smiles to win us and betray:
Grief is far honester—he flatters not,
And in his smiles there is no treachery.

From: Caunter, Richard McDonald, Attila, a Tragedy; and Other Poems, 1832, T. and W. Boone: London, p. 300.

Date: 1832

By: Richard McDonald Caunter (1798-1879)

Monday, 19 December 2022

Description from “Cassandra” by William Haygarth

Yet there is one who ‘midst the happy bands
Smiles not, nor looks upon the changing scene;
Descending manacles compress her hands,
But free and unconfin’d her dauntless mien,
In garb a captive, but in mind a queen,
The fair Cassandra—In the victor’s car,
By his war-bruised mail she stands serene,
Her light robe on his cuirass streaming far,
As on the brow of night faint gleams the matin star.

Her’s is no vulgar form—proportion’s grace
Floats o’er her limbs amidst the mantle’s fold;
Expression’s shadows pass across her face,
And underneath her waving locks of gold
The glaz’d and melancholy eye-ball roll’d
In phrensy, seems to look on other spheres:
Fancy by frigid reason uncontroll’d
Hangs on her parted lips, and there appears
Moulding imperfect sounds to melt the soul to tears.


At first low murmurs falter on her tongue;
Convulsive respiration heaves her breast;
Till as the raptures of mysterious song,
Now bursting wildly forth, now half supprest,
Flash on her mind, her eyes no longer rest—
The vein that streaks her brow with azure line
Throbs in quick pulse; by all the God possest
Her visage brightens with a gleam divine,
And o’er her mortal frame immortal glories shine.

From: Haygarth, William, Greece, a poem. [Followed by] Cassandra [a poem], 1814, W Bulmer and Co: London, pp. 296-297.

Date: 1814

By: William Haygarth (1784-1825)

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Baroness de Rothschild by Emily Marion Harris

Though life may fade, love never dies,
And all but love, is now a dream
To her, who in her long sleep lies
Enwrapped in flowers, and love supreme.
What, if the solemn shadows stir,
To sobbing sighs and broken prayer,
Love folds its mantle over her
And shields her, in its tender care.

Sadly the mystic hours of night
Flit past, still undisturbed by these,
Or sudden glow of morning light
Or waking birds, or waving trees.
She lies, who heeds not days and hours,
The sweet, soft bird song, nor one tear
Beneath her canopy of flowers
Indifferent now to joy and fear.

Earth’s voices touch her not; nor grieve
Her warm and generous heart with pain,
O sorrowing mourners, we believe
That God shall raise her up again,
That in some half-guessed, happier sphere,
Some perfect world, but part confessed
To us poor mortals weeping here,
“He giveth His beloved rest.”

And so Beloved, we part from you,
We, clothed by you, and housed and fed,
Not hopeless, though the words are true,
Our blessed Baroness is dead!
The poor, your monument shall raise,
Statelier than sculptured tomb above
That cherished form, of love and praise
Who loved her God; whose God is love.


Date: c1884

By: Emily Marion Harris (1844-1900)

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Patience by Richard Realf

The swift years bring but slow development
Of the worlds majestic; for Freedom is
Born grandly orb’d, as a solid continent,
Layer upon layer, from chaos and the abyss,
Shoulders its awful granite to the light,
Building the eternal mountains, on whose crests,
Pinnacled in the intense sapphire, rests
The brooding calmness of the Infinite.
But we, whirled round and round in heated gusts
Of eager indignation, think to weigh
Against God’s patience our gross griefs and lusts
Like foolish Jonah before Nineveh
(O world-wide symbol of his vanished gourd!)
Expostulating gravely with the Lord.

From: Realf, Richard and Hinton, Richard J., Poems by Richard Realf, Poet, Soldier, Workman, with a Memoir by Richard J. Hinton, 1898, Funk and Wagnalls: New York and London, p. 19.

Date: 1888 (published)

By: Richard Realf (1832-1878)

Friday, 25 November 2022

Every Day Thanksgiving Day by Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford

Sweet it is to see the sun
Shining on Thanksgiving Day,
Sweet it is to see the snow
Fall as if it came to stay;
Sweet is everything that comes.
For all makes cheer, Thanksgiving Day.

Fine is the pantry’s goodly store.
And fine the heaping dish and tray;
Fine the church-bells ringing; fine
All the dinners’ great array.
Things we’d hardly dare to touch.
Were it not Thanksgiving Day.

Dear the people coming home,
Dear glad faces long away.
Dear the merry cries, and dear
All the glad and happy play.
Dear the thanks, too, that we give
For all of this Thanksgiving Day.

But sweeter, finer, dearer far
It well might be if on our way.
With love for all, with thanks to Heaven,
We did not wait for time’s delay.
But, with remembered blessings then
Made every day Thanksgiving Day.

From: Committee of the Carnegie Library School Association, Thanksgiving in Poetry, 1923, The H. Wilson Company: New York, p. 27.

Date: 1881

By: Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford (1835-1921)

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Freedom by James Russell Lowell

Are we, then, wholly fallen? Can it be
That thou, North wind, that from thy mountains bringest
Their spirit to our plains, and thou, blue sea,
Who on our rocks thy wreaths of freedom flingest,
As on an altar,—can it be that ye
Have wasted inspiration on dead ears,
Dulled with the too familiar clank of chains?
The people’s heart is like a harp for years
Hung where some petrifying torrent rains
Its slow-incrusting spray: the stiffened chords
Faint and more faint make answer to the tears
That drip upon them: idle are all words;
Only a silver plectrum wakes the tone
Deep buried ‘neath that ever-thickening stone.

We are not free: Freedom doth not consist
In musing with our faces toward the Past,
While petty cares, and crawling interests, twist
Their spider-threads about us, which at last
Grow strong as iron chains, to cramp and bind
In formal narrowness heart, soul, and mind.
Freedom is recreated year by year,
In hearts wide open on the Godward side,
In souls calm-cadenced as the whirling sphere,
In minds that sway the future like a tide.
No broadest creeds can hold her, and no codes;
She chooses men for her august abodes,
Building them fair and fronting to the dawn;
Yet, when we seek her, we but find a few
Light footprints, leading morn-ward through the dew;
Before the day had risen, she was gone.

And we must follow: swiftly runs she on,
And, if our steps should slacken in despair,
Half turns her face, half smiles through golden hair,
Forever yielding, never wholly won:
That is not love which pauses in the race
Two close-linked names on fleeting sand to trace;
Freedom gained yesterday is no more ours;
Men gather but dry seeds of last year’s flowers:
Still there’s a charm ungranted, still a grace,
Still rosy Hope, the free, the unattained,
Makes us Possession’s languid hand let fall;
‘Tis but a fragment of ourselves is gained,—
The Future brings us more, but never all.

And, as the finder of some unknown realm,
Mounting a summit whence he thinks to see
On either side of him the imprisoning sea,
Beholds, above the clouds that overwhelm
The valley-land, peak after snowy peak
Stretch out of sight, each like a silver helm
Beneath its plume of smoke, sublime and bleak,
And what he thought an island finds to be
A continent to him first oped,—so we
Can from our height of Freedom look along
A boundless future, ours if we be strong;
Or if we shrink, better remount our ships
And, fleeing God’s express design, trace back
The hero-freighted Mayflower’s prophet-track
To Europe, entering her blood-red eclipse.

From: Lowell, James Russell and Dole, Nathan Haskell, Poems of James Russell Lowell with Biographical Sketch by Nathan Haskell Dole, 1898, Thomas Y. Crowell & Co: New York, pp.259-260.

Date: 1848

By: James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)

Monday, 21 November 2022

Content by George James Cornish

Of other regions cease to tell,
Cities and star-y-pointing hills;
My own loved valleys simple well,
My ardent love of nature fills.

I have enough in morning’s cloud,
Ten thousand glorious forms I spy;
Alps over alps aspiring proud,
And forests in the evening sky.

From: Cornish, G. J., Come to the Woods: and Other Poems, 1869, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co: London, p 136.

Date: 1869 (published)

By: George James Cornish (1794-1849)

Sunday, 20 November 2022

Origin of a Pen by William Robert Spencer

Love begg’d and pray’d old Time to stay,
Whilst he and Psyche toy’d together;
Love held his wings, Time tore away,
But, in the scuffle, dropp’d a feather!

Love seiz’d the prize, and with his dart,
Adroitly work’d to trim and shape it; —
“O Psyche! tho’ ’tis pain to part,
“This charm shall make us half escape it!

“Time need not fear to fly too slow,
“When he this useful loss discovers;
“A pen’s the only plume I know,
“That wings his pace for absent lovers!”

From: Spencer, William Robert, Poems, 1811, T. Cadell, and W. Davies, Strand: London, pp. 73-74.

Date: 1811

By: William Robert Spencer (1769-1834)

Friday, 28 October 2022

October by Frank Dempster Sherman

October is the month that seems
All woven with midsummer dreams;
She brings for us the golden days
That fill the air with smoky haze;
She brings for us the lisping breeze,
And wakes the gossips in the trees,
Who whisper near the vacant nest,
Forsaken by its feathered guest.
Now half the birds forget to sing,
And half of them have taken wing,
Before their pathway shall be lost
Beneath the gossamer of frost.
Zigzag across the yellow sky;
They rustle here and flutter there,
Until the boughs hang chill and bare,
What joy for us—what happiness
Shall cheer the day, the night shall bless?
‘T is Hallowe’en, the very last
Shall keep for us remembrance fast,
When every child shall duck the head
To find the precious pippin red.

From: Sherman, Frank Dempster, Little-Folk Lyrics, 1892, Houghton Mifflin and Company: Boston and New York, p. 25.

Date: 1892

By: Frank Dempster Sherman (1860-1916)