19th Century Women's Poetry

Caroline Danske Dandridge (1858-1914)

Danske Bedinger was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, and was the great-granddaughter of Eliza Southgate Bowne, a noted eighteenth-century diarist and botantist. Danske married Stephen Dandridge in 1877, but she probably came to the U.S. much earlier. She published Joy, and Other Poems (1888), Rose Brake (1890), and The Heroes of La Vende (c.1900).

The Dead Moon
We are ghost-ridden:
Through the deep night
Wanders a spirit,
Noiseless and white;
Loiters not, lingers not, knoweth not rest,
Ceaselessly haunting the East and the West.
She, whose undoing the ages have wrought,
Moves on to the time of God's rhythmical thought.
In the dark, swinging sea,
As she speedeth through space,
She reads her pale image;
The wounds are agape on her face.
She sees her grim nakedness
Pierced by the eyes
Of the Spirits of God
In their flight through the skies.
(Her wounds,--they are many and hollow.)
The Earth turns and wheels as she flies,
And this Spectre, this Ancient, must follow.

When, in the aeons,
Had she beginning?
What is her story?
What was her sinning?
Do the ranks of the Holy Ones
Know of her crime?
Does it loom in the mists
Of the birthplace of Time?
The stars, do they speak of her
Under their breath,
"Will this Wraith be forever
thus restless in death?"
On, through immensity,
Sliding and stealing,
On, through infinity,
Nothing revealing?

I see the fond lovers:
They walk in her light;
They charge the "soft maiden"
To bless their love-plight.
Does she laugh in her place,
As she glideth through space?
Does she laugh in her orbit with never a sound?
That to her, a dead body,
With nothing but rents in her round--
Blighted and marred,
Wrinkled and scarred,
Barren and cold,
Wizened and old--
That to her should be told,
That to her should be sung
The yearning and burning of them that are young?

Our Earth that is young,
That is throbbing with life,
Has fiery upheavals,
Has boisterous strife;
But she that is dead has not stir, breathes no air;
She is calm, she is voiceless, in lonely despair.