Florence Earle Coates

Biography of Florence Earle Coates

Florence Earle Coates poet

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.

Poetry collections:

Poems (1898)

Mine and Thine (1904)

Lyrics of Life (1909)

The Unconquered Air, and Other Poems (1912)

Poems (1916) in 2 vols.

Pro Patria (1917)

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The Unconquered Air


Others endure Man's rule: he therefore deems
   I shall endure it -- I, the unconquered Air!
   Imagines this triumphant strength may bear
His paltry sway! yea, ignorantly dreams,
Because proud Rhea now his vassal seems,
   And Neptune him obeys in billowy lair,
   That he a more sublime assault may dare,

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