Concept that life knows neither ill nor wrong.*
*Revised from America: Between Two Wars.
Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886
He would, indeed, a captious critic be
Of her who strangely did through life seclude
Herself, if he saw but some idle mood
Within her oddly packaged poetry
That largely spoke of God and destiny.
Yet would have served her better, solitude,
Her own verse ripening, had she been wooed
And less of death thought, and eternity.
Their mystery, however, of her made
The poet, to discipline obedient,
Whose thoughts into a dream-world seemed to fade,
Where she has written verse of wonderment,
Precise yet vague, that often does evade
Reality, with mysticism blent.*
Revised from America: Between Two Wars.
Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
Most gifted was Christina's family,
And that may partly be one reason why
In English letters she does occupy
Today so high a place. From Italy
Her learned father came a refugee,
With fellow-exiles to identify
Himself with new surroundings and thereby
Become a part of English history.
One can, I think, say truly Dante came
To England with Rossettis; came to stay
And be in England's soul a vital thing.
Christina, with her brothers, too, became
A poet through him. Lyrics that display
High, sacred feeling show his visioning.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, 1831-1891
America, a country that is prone
To profit as our culture testifies,
Oft something shows contrary that denies
Its spirit, as may easily be shown
In some philosophy or cult unknown,
Accepted instantly, though it belies
Basic beliefs. Yet such faith quickly dies
And never has within our country grown.
And only those can tell us why who know
The Orient; who know that East and West are twain;
And that the spirit cannot fully grow
In man when mind is set on money's gain.
To India, Blavatsky had to go
At last, where seeds of her faith long have lain.
Louisa May Alcott, 1832-1888
How dull and drab can life be seemingly
To be a source mysterious of light
And joy to all who read with great delight
Such books as Little Women, lovingly
Enthroned within one's cherished memory,
Where publicly Louisa would invite
The world to come and share what she did write
About her strange and gifted family.
Such book as this can serve as antidote
To weary minds, by hurry worn and waste,
As quietly and unaware they fall
Beneath Jo's spell and with her sisters float
Along life's simpler current without haste:
A stream gone underground without recall.
Hetty Green, 1835-1916
In Hetty Green, America has an
Example rare of what some women do
Within the field of finance, then so new,
And till her time but occupied by man;
Wherein, though born to riches, richer than
All women she became, entirely due
To management and foresight wherewith few
Men of her age so well their business ran.
Acquisitive, with wish to have and hold,
This aspect of our land's development
She ably represents; but in that where
We see desire to give and help unfold,
With gifts in times of need to government
And institutions, she seemed not to share.
Frances Willard, 1839-1898
Most women of America, who fame
Achieved through working for some organized
Association for reform, have sacrificed
Careers as teachers to effect, aflame
With some great cause, the worthy claim
Inherent in its aim, and realized
Alone through efforts never compromised
With anything that might defeat this aim.
A high example of such nobleness.
The Christian Temperance Union's founder sought,
In national and international
Societies, to save from drunkenness
All men; and she has for the ballot fought
With zeal that seemed at times fanatical.
Empress Carlotta, 1840-1927
Of fatal families in history
The Austrian Hapsburgs easily can claim
A leading place to such unhappy fame.
We see the lovely Queen of France Marie
Go to the guillotine courageously;
Carlotta, Maximilian's wife, became
Insane soon after she to Europe came,
To help her husband in captivity.
Fate to this royal pair was most unkind
In asking them to rule midst lawlessness
O'er an unreal empire in Mexico!
One would, indeed, to history be blind,
If he forgot his passing merciless
And that of his consort, which came so slow.
Carmen Sylva, 1843-1916
By this name, doubtless, she is better known
Than as Roumania's queen, to whom death came
As her adopted land war's stage became;
Where she had made its folklore all her own
And from it stories woven that have grown
Into such things as have eternal fame
In letter of all lands, but she can claim
As well distinction for herself alone.
A queen who has for native gifts a place
In letters recognized by critics who
Establish reputations, nonetheless
Events that cast their shadows o'er the face
Of courts, which month by month momentous grew,
Have touched her Thoughts with greater wistfulness.
Catherine Breshkovskaya, 1844-1934
Like Tolstoi, member of nobility,
But differing as revolutionist,
She left her child and husband to enlist
And early serve the cause of liberty,
Devoted to the Russian peasantry.
But even as Kerensky, visionist,
Whom she, recalled from exile, did assist,
She was denied the fruits of victory.
And more than person she will live as sign
Of something fine that strangely went astray
Through selfish lust of Russian men for power.
'Tis sad to think that one to whom a shrine
Was freedom for which she did work and pray,
In exile died when came her final hour.
Sarah Bernhardt, 1844-1923
No voice has in such bondage held the stage
As divine Sarah's, greatest of her day,
Whose early efforts would misfortunes stay!
But when great Hugo spoke through her, the rage
Of Paris she bacame, who from the page
Created characters that in hte play
Far greater powers than in the book display
And world-wide hearers held in vassalage.
No longer young, to many in L'Aiglon
She had her greatest triumph, where she made
Art seem, through her superb art, something real,
Perhaps the highest victory she won;
And creature of her art, she but obeyed
Demands to win applause beyond repeal.
Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, 1844-1879
It seems, almost as yesterday,
When this poor peasant girl the Virgin saw
In vision, and of Lourdes a saving spa
Has made, where millions come each year to pray,
Believing, for strange cures through springs that lay
Till then unknown for miracles, and draw
Their healing with a feeling unto awe,
As to her and their Lord they homage bring.
If we believe in wisdom when we see
The first time Rodin's Thinker, why not more
And more have faith in some things to the eye
Now evident in cures so helpfully
Bestowed through Bernadette, a saint moreo'er,
Whose power of vision one cannot deny.
Annie Wood Besant, 1847-1933
Had finite, as with many, been her goal,
She would have, doubtless, been, as she began,
A truly great humanitarian,