19th Century Women's Poetry

Elizabeth Clementine Dodge Kinney (1810-1889)

Born in New York City, Elizabeth Dodge contributed poetry to several literary magazines (Knickerbocker Magazine, Blackwood's) before her marriage in 1830 to Edmund Burke Stedman. After Stedman's death six years later, she lived in Plainfield, NJ, and there married William B. Kinney, founder of Newark's Advertiser. In 1851, William was appointed minister to the Court of Turin, and the Kinneys lived in Europe for the next fourteen years. While abroad, Elizabeth became friends with the Brownings and acted as a key figure in the U.S./European literary circles; she also wrote Felicita, A Metrical Romance (1855), and after returning in 1865 to the U.S., published Poems (1867) and Bianca Capello, a Tragedy (1873). She died in Summit, NJ, in 1889.

A Dream
'T was summer, and the spot a cool retreat--
Where curious eyes came not, nor footstep rude
Distrubed the lovers' chosen solitude:
Beneath an oak there was a mossy seat,
Where we reclined, while birds above us wooed
Their mates in songs voluptuously sweet.
A limpid brook went murmuring by our feet,
And all conspired to urge the tender mood.
Methought I touched the streamlet with a flower,
When from its bosom sprang a fountain clear,
Falling again in the translucent shower
Which made more green each blade of grass appear:
"This stream's thy heart," I said; "Love's touch alone
Can change it to the fount which maketh green my own."

Moonlight in Italy
There's not a breath the dewy leaves to stir;
There's not a cloud to spot the sapphire sky;
All Nature seems a silent worshipper:
While saintly Dian, with great, argent eye,
Looks down as lucid from the depths on high
As she to Earth were Heaven's interpreter;
Each twinkling little star shrinks back, too shy
Its lesser glory to obtrude by her
Who fills the concave and the world with light;
And ah! the human spirit must unite
In such a harmony of silent lays,
Or be the only discord in this night,
Which seems to pause for vocal lips to raise
The sense of worship into uttered praise.