Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Muse

Eye hath not seen it, my gentle boy!
Ear hath not heard its deep songs of joy;
Dreams cannot picture a world so fair...
Sorrow and death may not enter there;
Time doth not breath its fadeless bloom,
For beyond the clouds, and beyond the tomb,
It is there, it is there, my child!

Felicia D. Hemans
In the book of poetry, The Better Land

I have used a Felicia D. Hemans quote as the descriptor for my blog, almost as long as I have had a blog. I never knew she was born in Liverpool and that she was the granddaughter of a Venetian consul in Liverpool, England. Or that she had nineteen books published in the nineteenth century, being a contemporary of Wordsworth, and a popular figure in America, Britain, and Ireland, especially among women readers; She passed out of the literary canon for some time, only to re-emerge with a voice that still rings out today. Let's just say she was a woman who spoke (or wrote) her mind, and had five sons in quick succession, and then a divorce. Among her poetry that is still read today, especially in her native America, are...

"The Image in Lava", "Evening Prayer at a Girls' School", "I Dream of All Things Free", "Night-Blowing Flowers", "Properzia Rossi", "A Spirit's Return", "The Bride of the Greek Isle", "The Wife of Asrubal", "The Widow of Cresentius", "The Last Song of Sappho", and "Corinne at the Capitol"

Her most popular books were The Forest Sanctuary (1825) and Records of Woman and Songs of Affection (1830). She died of "dropsy" in 1835 (another term for edema, I think) and Wordsworth wrote her a memorial. Her last published works were Scenes and Hymns of Life, National Lyrics, and Songs for Music.

According to Wikipedia she was "a troubling predecessor" to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, wife of poet Robert Browning, (and a poet in her own right before she married him), and a "less acknowledged" influence on Tennyson and Longfellow, as well as to many female poets who followed in her train, and who, unfortunately, I have never heard of before.

The image is of a book published by Princeton Press

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