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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, LONDON, September 4, 1881. Dear Mr. Gilder, - Your telegram scared me, for, coming at an unusual hour, I thought it brought ill news from Washington. My relief on finding it innocent has perhaps made me too good-natured towards the verses I send you, but I have waited sixty-two years for them, and am willing to wait as many more (not here) before they are printed. Do what you like with them. They mean only my hearty good-will towards you and my hope for your success in your new undertaking.

Faithfully yours, J. R. LOWELL.

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If I could see the proofs, very likely I could better it-they sober one and bring one to his bearings. Perhaps the metaphysical (or whatever they are) stanzas - what I mean is moralizing-were better away. Perhaps too many compound epithets - but I had to give up visionary in order to save legendary,' which was essential. Perhaps a note, saying that so long as the author can remember, a pair of these birds (give ornithological name muscicapa ?) have built on jutting brick in an archway leading to the house at Elmwood - or does everybody know what a phoebe is? I am so old that I am accustomed to people's being ignorant of whatever you please.


Ere pales in heaven the morning star,
A bird, the loneliest of its kind,
Hears Dawn's faint footfall from afar
While all its mates are dumb and blind.

It is a wee sad-colored thing,

As shy and secret as a maid, That, ere in choir the robins ring, Pipes its own name like one afraid.

It seems pain-prompted to repeat The story of some ancient ill, But Phabe! Phoebe ! sadly sweet Is all it says, and then is still.

It calls and listens. Earth and sky, Hushed by the pathos of its fate, Listen, breath held, but no reply Comes from its doom-divided mate.

Phœbe! it calls and calls again,

And Ovid, could he but have heard, Had hung a legendary pain

About the memory of the bird;

▲ pain articulate so long

In penance of some mouldered crime Whose ghost still flies the Furies' thong Down the waste solitudes of Time;

Or waif from young Earth's wonder-hour When gods found mortal maidens fair, And will malign was joined with power Love's kindly laws to overbear.

Phabe! is all it has to say

In plaintive cadence o'er and o'er,
Like children that have lost their way
And know their names, but nothing more.

Is it a type, since nature's lyre
Vibrates to every note in man,
Of that insatiable desire,

Meant to be so, since life began ?

Or a fledged satire, sent to rasp
Their jaded sense, who, tired so soon
With shifting life's doll-dresses, grasp,
Gray-bearded babies, at the moon?

I, in strange lands at gray of dawn
Wakeful, have heard that fruitless plaint
Through Memory's chambers deep withdrawn
Renew its iterations faint.

So nigh! yet from remotest years
It seems to draw its magic, rife
With longings unappeased and tears
Drawn from the very source of life.


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LONDON, September 8, 1881.

Dear Mr. Gilder, -This is positively the last! I wish to omit the stanza beginning" Or a winged satire," etc. I have been convinced by a friend whom I have consulted that it was a cuckoo's egg in my nest. Item. The verse that bothered me most of all was this:

Listen, breath held, but no reply, etc.

I wished to have a distinct pause after "listen," in accordance with the sense. Somehow I could not get the right, and "breath held was clearly the wrong one, awkward, and with the same vowel sound in both halves. PrintListen no whisper of reply

Is heard of doom-dissevered mate.

No; that won't do, either, with its assonance of "heard" and "dissevered " so, though I prefer "dissevered" for sense, I will go back to the original word "divided," which I suppose was instinctive.

This is positively my last dying speech and confession. You need fear nothing more from me. I fancy you ducking your head for fear of another rap every time the postman comes.

I hope you will like my little poem, and tell me so if you don't. Kindest regards to Mrs. Gilder. Faithfully yours,

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LONDON, September 12, 1881.

As I am writing, I add that if you think

(as I am half inclined)

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HOTEL DANIELI, VENICE, October 24, 1881. Thank you for the printed copy. Of course I am disgusted with it. Print somehow is like a staring plaster-cast compared with the soft and flowing outlines, the modest nudity of the manuscript clay. But it is a real pleasure to me that you like it.

"Robins ring" is right, and whenever you spend a June night at Elmwood (as I hope you will so soon as I am safe there once more) you will recognize its truth. There are hundreds of 'em going at once, like the bells here last night (Sunday), with a perfect indecency of disregard for rhythm or each other. Mr. Burroughs, I hear, has been criticising my knowledge of out-doors. God bless his soul! I had been living in the country thirty years (I fancy

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it must be) before he was born, and if anybody ever lived in the open air it was I. So be at peace. By the way, I took Progne merely because she was changed into a little bird. I should have preferred a male, and was thinking of a fellow (transformed, I think by Medea), but can't remember his name. While I am about it I question wee." Is it English? I had no dictionary at hand. But there is one atrocity- "moldered." Why do you give in to these absurdities? Why abscond in to this petty creek from the great English main of orthography? 'Tis not quite so bad as "I don't know as" for "I don't know that," but grazes it and is of a piece with putting one's knife in one's mouth.]


IN arranging this list the editor has relied first on the dates supplied by the author, and then on the dates of periodicals and books in which the poems otherwise undated first appeared. Whenever the first appearance of a poem has not been determined precisely, the title is printed in italic under the year when the volume first including it was published.

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A Prayer.

Song (Violet! sweet violet!).

Sonnet (What were I, Love, if I were stripped of thee).

Sonnet: To the Spirit of Keats.

Sonnet (Great truths are portions of the soul of man).

Sonnet (I ask not for those thoughts, that sudden leap).

Sonnet: To M. W., on her Birthday. Sonnet (My Love, I have no fear that thou shouldst die).

Sonnet (I cannot think that thou shouldst pass away).

Sonnet (There never yet was flower so fair in vain).

Sonnet: Sub Pondere crescit.


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A Parable (Worn and footsore was the

Song (O moonlight deep and tender).
Sonnet (Beloved, in the noisy city here).
Sonnets: On Reading Wordsworth's Son-
nets in Defence of Capital Punishment.
(Six sonnets.)

Sonnet: To M. O. S.

Sonnet (Our love is not a fading earthly

The Shepherd of King Admetus.
An Incident in a Railroad Car.

Elegy on the Death of Dr. Channing.

1843. The Fountain.

The Fatherland.

Sonnet: In Absence.

Sonnet: The Street.

A Legend of Brittany.


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Lines suggested by the Graves of Two English Soldiers on Concord Battle Ground.

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The Wind-Harp.

Auf Wiedersehen.

A Winter Evening Hymn to my Fire.

Sonnet on an Autumn Sketch of H. G.



1857. My Portrait Gallery.

Sonnet: The Maple.

The Origin of Didactic Poetry.

1858. The Dead House.

The Nest.

Das Ewig-Weibliche (original title, Beatrice).

1859. Villa Franca.

At the Burns Centennial.

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The Protest.

The Petition.

Sonnet: To a Lady Playing on the Cithern.


On Planting a Tree at Inveraray.


Sonnets: With an Armchair. Agro-Dolce.

A New Year's Greeting.


1882. Verses intended to go with a Posset Dish to my Dear Little Goddaughter, 1882. Sonnet: To Whittier.

The Secret.

1884. To Holmes.


The Optimist.

Eleanor makes Macaroons.

Bon Voyage.

The Recall.

Changed Perspective.

On Hearing a Sonata of Beethoven's played in the Next Room.

Under the October Maples.

International Copyright.

1886. Fact or Fancy?

Paolo to Francesca.

With a Pair of Gloves lost in a Wager.

1887. Postscript to An Epistle to George William Curtis.

Credidimus Jovem regnare.
Sixty-Eighth Birthday.

1888. Endymion.

Turner's Old Téméraire.
St. Michael the Weigher.

In a Copy of Omar Khayyam.

On Receiving a Copy of Mr. Austin Dobson's Old World Idylls."

To C. F. Bradford.

Sonnet: To a Friend. Sonnet: To Miss D. T.

Arcadia Rediviva.

A Youthful Experiment in English Herameters.

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