This week’s Featured Poem choice is a selection by Florence Earle Coates, an American poet and philanthropist whose work was published in a range of well-established literary publications during the 19th century. She was championed by Matthew Arnold after meeting during his first tour of America in 1883, and her poetry was elsewhere described as drawing “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.”
The Morning Glory was read in a shared reading group set within a care home recently, and while it was considered to evoke perhaps painful memories for those who have suffered recent bereavement it also generated much discussion on the nature of loss.
The Morning Glory
Was it worthwhile to paint so fair
The every leaf – to vein with faultless art
Each petal, taking the boon light and air
Of summer so to heart?
To bring thy beauty unto a perfect flower,
Then like a passing fragrance or a smile
Vanish away, beyond recovery’s power –
Was it, frail bloom, worthwhile?
Thy silence answers: “Life was mine!
And I, who pass without regret or grief,
Have cared the more to make my moment fine,
Because it was so brief.
In its first radiance I have seen
The sun! – Why tarry then till comes the night?
I go my way, content that I have been
Part of the morning light!”
Florence Earle Coates