Florence Earle Coates
Biography of Florence Earle Coates
Florence Earle Coates (July 1, 1850 – April 6, 1927) was an American poet born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended school in Lexington, Massachusetts sometime between 1864 and 1867 under the instruction of abolitionist and teacher Theodore Dwight Weld, who had "charge of Conversation, Composition, and English Literature," and would further her education abroad at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Paris, and by studying music in Brussels under noted instructors of the day. Granddaughter of noted abolitionist and philanthropist Thomas Earle, and eldest daughter of Philadelphia lawyer George H. Earle, Sr. and Mrs. Frances ("Fanny") Van Leer Earle, Mrs. Coates gained notoriety both at home and abroad for her works of poetry—nearly three-hundred of which were published in literary magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly, Scribner's Magazine, The Literary Digest, Lippincott's, The Century Magazine, and Harper's. Literary and social critic Matthew Arnold both encouraged and inspired Mrs. Coates' writing, and was a guest on several occasions at the Coates' Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania home during his stays in Philadelphia. Arnold wrote letters to Mrs. Coates in 1887 and 1888 from his home at Pains Hill Cottage in Cobham, Surrey, England describing his remembrance of and fondness for her "tulip-trees and maples."
In the March 1913 issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, noted anthologist and poet, William Stanley Braithwaite (1878-1962), gives a detailed 9-page review of Mrs. Coates' poetry, relating how "she draws from the Olympian world figures that typify some motive or desire in human conduct, and in the modern world the praise of men and women, heroic in attainment or sacrifice; or laments events that effect social and ethical progress, showing how beneficently she has brought her art, without modifying in the least its abstract function as a creator of beauty and pleasure, into the service of profound and vital problems." Much of Mrs. Coates' later published work was written during the years spanning World War One and showcased her concern for such "profound and vital problems" as her voice joined the chorus of 'singers' in support of American involvement in the war—evidenced in her privately published pamphlet of war poetry, Pro Patria (1917). Mrs. Coates also penned several other works of fugitive verse not included in the 1917 pamphlet—published in various periodicals of her day describing the selfless sacrifices made by soldiers and citizens alike for the cause of freedom and liberty.
Mine and Thine (1904)
Lyrics of Life (1909)
The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)
Poems (1916) in 2 vols.
Pro Patria (1917)
Florence Earle Coates Poems
The Smile Of Rheims
'The Smile,' they called her -- 'La Sourire'; and fair -- A sculptured angel on the northern door Of the Cathedral's west façade -- she wore
Sorrow, quit me for a while! Wintry days are over; Hope again, with April smile, Violets sows and clover.
In War-Time (An American Homeward-Bound)
Further and further we leave the scene Of war - and of England's care; I try to keep my mind serene - But my heart stays there;
Better To Die
Better to die, where gallant men are dying, Than to live on with them that basely fly; Better to fall, the soulless Fates defying,
The Unconquered Air
I Others endure Man's rule: he therefore deems I shall endure it -- I, the unconquered Air!
Song. "If Love Were But A Little Thing -...
If love were but a little thing -- Strange love, which, more than all, is great -- One might not such devotion bring, Early to serve and late.
Was it worth while to paint so fair Thy every leaf - to vein with faultless art Each petal, taking the boon light and air Of summer so to heart?
HOW beautiful to live as thou didst live! How beautiful to die as thou didst die,— In moonlight of the night, without a sigh,
THE KNELL that dooms the voiceless and obscure Stills Memnon’s music with its ghostly chime; Strength is as weakness in the clasp of Time,
FOR me the jasmine buds unfold And silver daisies star the lea, The crocus hoards the sunset gold,
Place De La Concorde, August 14, 1914
Near where the royal vicitims fell In days gone by, caught in the swell Of a ruthless tide Of human passion, deep and wide:
SHE dances, And I seem to be In primrose vales of Sicily, Beside the streams once looked upon
SILENT amidst unbroken silence deep Of dateless years, in loneliness supreme, She pondered patiently one mighty theme,
Better To Die
Better to die, where gallant men are dying,
Than to live on with them that basely fly;
Better to fall, the soulless Fates defying,
Than unassailed to wander vainly, trying
To turn one's face from an accusing sky!
Days matter not, nor years to the undaunted;
To live is nothing, -- but to nobly live!
The poorest visions of the honor-haunted