19th Century Women's Poetry

Elise Justine Bayard (1815?-1850?)

A resident of Glenwood, NY, Bayard was just beginning to publish her poetry in periodicals such as The Literary World and The Knickerbocker when Caroline May included several of her works in The American Female Poets (1848).

Sprung from the arid rock devoid of soil,
In vig'rous life I saw one blade of wheat,
Bearing its precious grain, full-lobed and sweet,
Remote from eye of him whose lusty toil
In other harvest recompense hath found;
And it seemed good to me that labour should
Beyond its aim or asking thus abound,
While reaping to itself its purchased food:
So, too, from him, who the prolific thought
Sows in the cultured field of intellect,
A wandering breath its course may intersect,
And bear an embryo with rich promise fraught
Within some barren soul to germinate,
And fill with fruitful life what else were desolate.

We parted at noontide, I met her at night,
(How the inner world mocks at the outer!)
'T was day in her presence, that spirit of light,
'T will be more than midnight without her.
We met amid tears, amid laughter to part,
(How the inner world mocks at the outer!)
Those tears were Hope's baptism sweet to my heart,
That mirth but betrayed me to doubt her.

In summer we parted, in winter we met,
(How the inner world mocks at the outer!)
December was lit by those star-eyes of jet,
July bound the death-shroud about her.


I saw a light cloud floating in the sheen
Of the resplendent moonshine; undefined
Its fleecy edges shivered in the wind
Alone, at first it moved in distance seen,
But as it neared on the broad disk serene
Of the full moon, it grew a settled form;
And in its train appeared a shadowy swarm,
Attendant vapours, hov'ring links, between
This pale forerunner, and huge shrouds of gloom,
Which, lowering o'er the hills, protentious prophets loom.
Thus, on its inner heaven, the soul descries
Shapes of significance, indefinite,
Dimming its native clarity, yet bright
And cozening in beauty. Lone they rise,
In seeming harmless; but to virtue's eyes
When brought to Truth's illumined disk anear,
They show as darkness--harbingers appear
Of gloomy ranks, whose dim perspective dies
In earthly mists born of corruption's slime,
Leading through paths obscure, from Error down to Crime.