19th Century Women's Poetry

Ellen Mackay Hutchinson Cortissoz

Born in Caledonia, NY, Ellen Hutchinson began at an early age to work at the New York Tribune and became a member of its editorial staff, responsible for the Sunday supplement's literary department. Her spouse, Royal Cortissoz, was an art critic for the Tribune. But it was before her marriage that she published Songs and Lyrics (1881), which was critically praised; she also co-edited with E.C. Stedman the 11-volume Library of American Literature (1888-89). A feminist and lecturer, she contributed in many venues to the advancement of women and their art.

Her Picture
Autumn was cold in Plymouth town;
The wind ran round the shore,
Now softly passing up and down,
Now wild and fierce and fleet,
Wavering overhead,
Moaning in the narrow street
As one beside the dead.
The leaves of wrinkled gold and brown
Fluttered here and there,
But not quite heedless where;
For as in hood and sad-hued gown
The Rose of Plymouth took the air.
They whirled, and whirled, and fell to rest
Upon her gentle breast,
Then on the happy earth her foot had pressed.

Autumn is wild in Plymouth town,
Barren and bleak and cold,
And still the dead leaves flutter down
As the years grow old.
And still--forever gravely fair--
Beneath their fitful whirl,
New England's sweetest girl,
Rose Standish, takes the air.


On Kingston Bridge
On All Souls' Night the dead walk on Kingston Bridge. -- Old Legend.
On Kingston Bridge the starlight shone
Through hurrying mists in shrouded glow;
The boding night-wind made its moan,
The mighty river crept below.
'T was All Souls' night, and to and fro
The quick and dead together walked,
The quick and dead together talked,
On Kingston Bridge.
Two met who had not met for years;
Once was their hate too deep for fears:
One drew his rapier as he came,
Upleapt his anger like a flame.
With clash of mail he faced his foe,
And bade him stand and meet him so.
He felt a graveyard wind go by
Cold, cold as was his enemy.
A stony horror held him fast.
The Dead looked with a ghastly stare,
And sighed "I know thee not," and passed
Like to the mist, and left him there
On Kingston Bridge.

'T was All Souls' night, and to and fro
The quick and dead together walked,
The quick and dead together talked,
On Kingston Bridge.

Two met who had not met for years:
With grief that was too deep for tears
They parted last.
He clasped her hand, and in her eyes
He sought Love's rapturous surprise.
"Oh Sweet!" he cried, "hast thou come back
To say thou lov'st thy lover still?"
--Into the starlight, pale and cold,
She gazed afar,--her hand was chill:
"Dost thou remember how we kept
Our ardent vigils?--how we kissed?--
Take thou these kisses as of old!"
An icy wind about him swept;
"I know thee not," she sighed, and passed
Into the dim and shrouding mist
On Kingston Bridge.

'T was All Souls' night, and to and fro
The quick and dead together walked,
The quick and dead together talked,
On Kingston Bridge.


Pamela in Town
The fair Pamela came to town,
To London town, in early summer;
And up and down and round about
The beaux discussed the bright newcomer,
With "Gadzooks, sir," and "Ma'am, my duty,"
And "Odds my life, but 't is a Beauty!"
To Ranelagh went Mistress Pam,
Sweet Mistress Pam so fair and merry,
With cheeks of cream and roses blent,
With voice of lark and lip of cherry.
Then all the beaux vow'd 't was their duty
To win and wear this country Beauty.

And first Frank Lovelace tried his wit,
With whispers bold and eyes still bolder;
The warmer grew his saucy flame,
Cold grew the charming fair and colder.
'T was "icy bosom"--"cruel beauty"--
"To love, sweet Mistress, 't is a duty."

Then Jack Carew his arts essayed,
With honeyed sighs and feigned weeping,
Good lack! his billets bound the curls
That pretty Pam she wore a-sleeping.
Next day these curls had richer beauty,
So well Jack's fervor did its duty.

Then Cousin Will came up to view
The way Pamela ruled the fashion;
He watched the gallants crowd about,
And flew into a rustic passion,--
Left "Squire, his mark," on divers faces,
And pinked Carew beneath his laces.

Alack! one night at Ranelagh
The pretty Sly-boots fell a-blushing;
And all the mettled bloods look'd round
To see what caused that telltale flushing.
Up stepp'd a grizzled Poet Fellow
To dance with Pam a saltarello.

Then Jack and Frank and Will resolved,
With hand on sword and cutting glances,
That they would lead that Graybeard forth
To livelier tunes and other dances.
But who that saw Pam's eyes a-shining
With love and joy would see her pining!

And--oons! Their wrath cool'd as they looked--
That Poet stared as fierce as any!
He was a mighty proper man,
With blade on hip and inches many;
The beaux all vow'd it was their duty
To toast some newer, softer Beauty.

Sweet Pam she bridled, blush'd, and smiled--
The wild thing loved and could but show it!
Mayhap some day you'll see in town
Pamela and her grizzled Poet.
Forsooth he taught the rogue her duty,
And won her faith, her love, her beauty.