19th Century Women's Poetry

Mary Ainge DeVere ("Madeline Bridges") (b. 1840s)

Ainge lived in her native Brooklyn her whole life. She was a life-long poet, contributing to the major literary periodicals of the day. Love Songs, and Other Poems appeared in 1870 and Poems in 1890.

The Spinner
The spinner twisted her slender thread
As she sat and spun:
"The earth and the heavens are mine," she said,
"And the moon and sun;
Into my web the sunlight goes,
And the breath of May,
And the crimson life of the new-blown rose
That was born to-day."
The spinner sang in the hush of noon
And her song was low:
"Ah, morning, you pass away too soon,
You are swift to go.
My heart o'erflows like a brimming cup
With its hopes and fears.
Love, come and drink the sweetness up
Ere it turn to tears."
The spinner looked at the falling sun:
"Is it time to rest?
My hands are weary,--my work is done,
I have wrought my best;
I have spun and woven with patient eyes
And with fingers fleet.
Lo! where the toil of a lifetime lies
In a winding-sheet!"


Poet and Lark
When leaves turn outward to the light,
And all the roads are fringed with green,
When larks are pouring, high, unseen,
The joy they find in song and flight,
Then I, too, with the lark would wing
My little flight, and soaring, sing.
When larks drop downward to the nest,
And day drops downward to the sea,
And song and wing are fain to rest,
The lark's dear wisdom guideth me,
And I too turn within my door,
Content to dream, and sing no more.


A Breath
A breath can fan love's flame to burning,--
Make firm resolve of trembling doubt.
But, strange! at fickle fancy's turning,
The selfsame breath can blow it out.

Friend and Lover
When Psyche's friend becomes her lover,
How sweetly these conditions blend!
But, oh, what anguish to discover
Her lover has become--her friend!