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Phæbe! 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Wakeful, have heard that fruitless plaint Through Memory's chambers deep withdrawn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.

Page 399. PHæBE. [The correspondence concerning this poem with the original form of the verses is here given in detail.


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. 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 phebe is? I am so old that I am accustomed to people's being ignorant of whatever you please.

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.


LONDON, September 5, 1881. Dear Mr. Gilder, - I sent off the verses yesterday, and now write in great haste to say that in my judgment the stanza beginning “Or waif from

young Earth's, etc., were better away. Also for doom-divided " print doom-dissevered." I have not had time to mull over the poem as I should like. Faithfully yours,

J. R. LOWELL. P.S. I may write in a day or two suppressing more, after I have had time to think.



LONDON, September 6, 1881. Dear Mr. Gilder, - I bother you like a boy with his first essay in verse. I wrote yester day to ask the omission of a stanza — but last night, being sleepless, as old fellows like me are too often apt to be, I contrived to make a stanza which had been tongue-tied say what I wished. Let it go thus,

Wait of the young World's wonder-hour

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 Phæbe ! 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. Phæbe ! it calls and calls again,

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

About the memory of the bird; A 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

Whon gods found mortal maidens fair, And will malign was joined with power

Love's kindiy laws to overbear.

to overbear, (comma). Then go on

Like Progne, did it feel the stress

And coil of the prevailing words
Close round its being and compress

Man's ampler nature to a bird's ? This manages the transition, which was wanting. Perhaps this might follow:

One only memory left of all

The motley crowd of vanished scenes,
Hers - and vain impulse to recall
By repetition what it means.
Faithfully yours,



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 bout 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? T is 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.]


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. Print

Listen : 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 "

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,





LONDON, September 12, 1881. As I am writing, I add that if you think (as I am half inclined)

No whisper of reply

Comes from its doom-dissevered mate better than the other reading, print it so.

Faithfully yours,

J. R. LOWELL. P.S. We are sadly anxious to-day about the President.

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 poom has not been determined precisely, the title is printed in italic under the year when the volume first including it was published. 1839. Threnodia.

The Beggar.

Summer Storm. 1840. The Sirens.

Sonnet : To A. C. L.
Sonnet (I would not have this perfect

love of ours).
Sonnet (For this true nobleness I seek

in vain).
Remembered Music.
With a Pressed Flower.

My Love.
1841. To Perdita, Singing.

The Moon.
Ode (In the old days of awe and keen-

eyed wonder).
A Prayer.
Song (Violet I 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.


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 outdoors. God bless his soul! I had been living in the country thirty years (I fancy

Si descendero in Infernum, ades. 1842. The Forlorn.

The Rose: A Ballad.
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.
A Glance Behind the Curtain.
Stanzas on Freedom.
L'Envoi (Whether my heart hath wiser

grown or not).

A Requiem.
Sonnet : Wendell Phillips.
Sonnet (I grieve not that ripe Knowledge

takes away),
Sonnet : To J. R. Giddings.
The Token,

A Chippewa Legend. 1844. Columbus.

On the Death of a Friend's Child.
Hunger and Cold.

The Present Crisis.
1845. An Incident of the Fire at Hamburg.

To the Past.
To the Future.
A Contrast.
On the Capture of Fugitive Slaves near

To the Dandelion.
The Ghost-Seer.

An Interview with Miles Standish. 1846. The Falcon.

The Oak.
Letter from Boston.
The Biglow Papers (Beginning of].
On the Death of Charles Turner Torrey.

An Indian Summer Reverie. 1847. The Landlord.

Extreme Unction.
Above and Below.
The Growth of the Legend.
Song : To M. L.
To a Pine-Tree.
The Search
The Captive.
The Birch-Tree.
Studies for Two Heads.

On a Portrait of Dante by Giotto.
The Changeling.
The Pioneer.

1848. The Sower.

Ode to France.
A Parable (Said Christ our Lord, “I

will go and see).
Ode written for the Celebration of the

Introduction of the Cochituate Water
into the City of Boston.
To Lamartine.
To the Memory of Hood.
The Vision of Sir Launfal.
A Fable for Critics.
The Biglow Papers. First Series. [Pub-

lished in book form.] 1849. Trial.

Lines suggested by the Graves of Two

English Soldiers on Concord Battle

Beaver Brook.
An Oriental Apologue.
The First Snow-Fall.
The Parting of the Ways.
The Lesson of the Pine (later, with two

stanzas added, A Mood).
A Day in June (later, revised and en-

larged, Al Fresco).
Sonnet (I thought our love at full, but I

did err).
She came and went.
To John Gorham Palfrey.

To W. L. Garrison. 1850. The Fountain of Youth.

New Year's Eve, 1850.
An Invitation.
Mahmood the Image-Breaker.

The Unhappy Lot of Mr. Knott. 1851. Anti-Apis. 1852. A Parable (An ass munched thistles,

while a nightingale). 1854. The Singing Leaves.

Without and Within.
Pictures from Appledore.
The Wind-Harp.
Auf Wiedersehen.
A Winter Evening Hymn to my Fire.
Sonnet, on an Autumn Sketch of H. G.

1855. Masaccio.
1857. My Portrait Gallery.

Sonnet: The Maple.

The Origin of Didactic Poetry. 1858. The Dead House.

The Nest.
Das Ewig-Weibliche (original title, Bea-

1859. Villa Franca.

At the Burns Centennial.

1860. L'Envoi: To the Muse.

1877. Sonnets: Bankside. 1861. Ode to Happiness.

Birthday Verses.
The Washers of the Shroud.

Sonnet: Nightwatches. 1862. The Biglow Papers. (Beginning of the] Sonnet: Pessimoptimism. Second Series.

Sonnet: The Brakes. 1863. Two Scenes from the Life of Blondel. 1878. Sonnet: Death of Queen Mercedes. In the Half-Way House.

Sonnet: With a Copy of Aucassin and 1864. Memoriæ Positum: R. G. Shaw.

On Board the '76.

1879. Sonnet: E. G. de R.
The Black Preacher.

The Protest. 1865. Gold Egg: A Dream-Fantasy.

The Petition. Ode Recited at the Harvard Commemo- Sonnet: To a Lady Playing on the ration.

Cithern, 1866. The Miner,

To Mr. John Bartlett.

1880. On Planting a Tree at Inveraray.
At the Commencement Dinner, 1866. 1881. Phæbe.
The Biglow Papers. Second Series. Sonnets: With an Armchair.
(Published in book form.]

Agro-Dolce. 1867. A Familiar Epistle to a Friend.

A New Year's Greeting.
An Ember Picture.

To H. W. L.

1882. Verses intended to go with a Posset Dish The Nightingale in the Study.

to my Dear Little Goddaughter, 1882. Fitz Adam's Story.

Sonnet: To Whittier. 1868. The Flying Dutchman.

The Secret.
Under the Willows.

1884. To Holmes,
After the Burial.

The Optimist.
In the Twilight.

Eleanor makes Macaroons.
The Foot-Path.

Bon Voyage.
A Mood (earlier, The Lesson of the

The Recall.

Changed Perspective.
To Charles Eliot Norton.

1885. On Hearing a Sonata of Beethoven's Seaweed.

played in the Next Room.
The Finding of the Lyre.

Under the October Maples.
For an Autograph.

International Copyright.
Al Fresco (earlier, A Day in June). 1886. Fact or Fancy?
God minster Chimes.

Paolo to Francesca.

With a Pair of Gloves lost in a Wager.
The Nomades.

1887. Postscript to An Epistle to George WilSelf-Study.

liam Curtis.
The Voyage to Vinland.

Credidimus Jovem regnare.
Invita Minerva.

Sixty-Eighth Birthday.

1888. Endymion.
The Darkened Mind.

Turner's Old Téméraire.
What Rabbi Jehosha said.

St. Michael the Weigher.

Fancy's Casuistry.

In a Copy of Omar Khayyam. 1869, The Cathedral.

On Receiving a Copy of Mr. Austin Dob1872. Tempora Mutantur.

son's "Old World Idylls." 1873. Sonnet: To Fanny Alexander.

To C. F. Bradford. 1874. Agassiz.

Sonnet : To a Friend.
An Epistle to George William Curtis.

Sonnet : To Miss D. T.
Sonnet: Jeffries Wyman.

Arcadia Rediviva. 1875. Ode read at the One Hundredth An- A Youthful Experiment in English niversary of the Fight at Concord


Under the Old Elm.

Monna Lisa.
Prison of Cervantes.

On Burning some Old Letters.
Sonnet: Scottish Border (original title, The Broken Tryst.
English Border).

Casa sin Alma,
Sonnet: On being asked for an Auto- A Christmas Carol.
graph in Venice.

Sonnet : The Eye's Treasury.
Sonnet: The Dancing Bear.

Sonnet: A Foreboding.
Sonnet: Joseph Winlock.

Love's Clock. 1876. An Ode for the Fourth of July, 1876.

A Misconception.

The Boss (originally entitled, Defrauding Franciscus de Verulamio sic Cogitavit.

The Pregnant Comment.

The Lesson.
Science and Poetry.
The Discovery.
With a Seashell.
In an Album.

For a Bell at Cornell University.
For a Memorial Window to Sir Walter

Raleigh, set up in St. Margaret's,
Westminster, by American Contrib-

Proposed for a Soldiers' and Sailors'

Monument in Boston. 1889. How I consulted the Oracle of the Gold

1890. Fragments of an Unfinished Poem.
1891. On a Bust of General Grant.
1895. A Valentine,

An April Birthday- at Sea.
Love and Thought.
The Nobler Lover.

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