poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Caroline Gilman was born Caroline Howard in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1794. She received very little formal education but began writing at an early age. In 1819 she married Samuel Gilman, a Unitarian minister, and moved with him to Charleston, South Carolina.

Gilman wrote several poems during her youth and the early years of her marriage, but her literary career began in earnest after the death of her newborn sixth child, in 1831. She edited The Rose Bud, one of the nation’s first magazines for children, from 1832 to 1839; the publication, which she founded, was renamed Southern Rose in 1835 to reach a wider audience. She published three serialized novels for the journal, including Recollections of a Housekeeper (Harper & Brothers, 1834) and Recollections of a Southern Matron (Harper & Brothers, 1838). With these novels, Gilman hoped to illustrate the domestic similarities between the North and South as tension in the nation increased. She also edited the Lady’s Annual Register and Housewife’s Memorandum-Book from 1837 to 1839.

Gilman wrote several additional books, including The Poetry of Travelling in the United States (S. Colman, 1838), Oracles from the Poets (Wiley and Putnam, 1844), and A Gift Book of Stories and Poems for Children (C. S. Francis, 1850). She said of her career, “I find myself, then, at nearly sixty years of age, somewhat of a patriarch in the line of American female authors.” Her work often focuses on the domestic and portrays the family as a cornerstone of society.

She remained in the South during the American Civil War and participated actively in Confederate relief work in Greenville, South Carolina. After the war, she returned to Charleston, where she stayed until 1882. She died in Washington, D. C. on September 15, 1888.

Selected Bibliography

A Gift Book of Stories and Poems for Children (C. S. Francis, 1850)
Verses of a Life Time (J. Munroe & Co., 1849)
Oracles from the Poets (Wiley and Putnam, 1845)
The Poetry of Travelling in the United States (S. Colman, 1838)

Love’s Progress (Harper & Brothers, 1840)
Recollections of a Southern Matron (Harper & Brothers, 1838)
Recollections of a Housekeeper (Harper & Brothers, 1834)

from Oracles for Youth


Let some one hold the book, and ask one of the questions. The answers being all
numbered, the girl or boy who is questioned chooses a number, and the person 
who holds the book reads the answer to which that number belongs, aloud. 
For instance: 

Question. What is your character? 
Answer. I choose No. 3 

Questioner reads aloud: 

No. 3. Gentle tempered, sweet and kind, 
           To no angry word inclined. 

          What Will Be Your Destiny?

1. Just as you think you’ve gained great wealth,
    Something will make you lose your health.

2. Your hair will be white in a single night,
    From having an unexpected fright.

3. You will enjoy a sweet old age,
    So kind and pure, so long and sage.

4. You will fall down at eighty-four,
    And break a dozen ribs or more.

5. You will finish your days with God for your friend:
    Who would not be glad of so blissful an end?

6. You will be ever absorbed in books,
    And never give a thought to looks.

7. In peace and plenty you will lie,
    And in the arms of friendship die.

8. You will have cause for many tears,
    To cloud the beauty of your years.

9. Ah, is it so? when you are old,
    you will be very poor, I’m told.

10. In the night-time you will weep,
      And your painful vigils keep.

11. Nothing dreadful, nothing sad,
      Comes to you; for this I’m glad.

12. You always will have an excellent table,
      And full of horses will keep your stable.

13. The Sibyl says you’ll die in Rome,
      Which for a time will be your home.

14. Your plenty and peace
      Will never cease.

15. You will suddenly die in the crowded street,
      If the age of a hundred years you meet.

16. You will ride in your carriage-and-four,
      And be very kind to the suffering poor.

17. Never murmur, never care,
      You will be a millionaire.

18. Sick at heart, and sick at head,
      You will wish that you were dead.

19. As the might of God you see,
      Religious you will ever be.

20. To California you will go
      To get the shining gold, you know.

21. Brightest pleasures you will see,
      And happiness your portion be.

22. Love will gild your joyous life,
      Free from pain and care and strife.

23. Don’t despond, and do not care,
      You will be a nabob’s heir.

24. To California you will be sent,
      But will return as poor as you went.

25. A missionary you will be,
      Far o’er the billows of the sea.

26. It is your destiny to rule,
      And you will keep a village school.

27. Ball and parties you will find
      Alone are suited to your mind.

28. Through the vista of the years
      I see you mourning and in tears.

29. A country life at length you’ll lead,
      Rejoicing in your ambling steed.

30. Fair in the wild and prairied west,
      Your tired frame at length you’ll rest.

31. A public singer’s place you’ll take,
      And a sensation you will make.

32. You’ll only love your native home,
      From which you will not care to roam.

33. A great pianist, you will gain
      Bright laurels from the admiring train.

34. A kitchen garden you will keep,
      And sell fresh vegetables cheap.

35. To higher virtues you will rise,
      Until you’re ready for the skies.

36. To the city’s crowded street
      You’ll direct your willing feet.

37. In digging in a worn-out field
      You’ll see a box, securely sealed,
          Half buried in the ground;
      And therein jewels bright, and gold,
      And bank-notes, in large bundles rolled,
          Will joyfully be found.

38. A music teacher you will be,
      This is your tuneful destiny.

39. You will travel in your prime,
      And view the works of art sublime.

40. You will journey the whole world o’er,
      And gather relics from every shore.

41. The most of your time will be passed on the sea,
      But wherever you are, you will happy be.

42. On an island will you live,
      And nice pleasure-parties give.

43. You will spend your leisure hours,
      In a garden tending flowers.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Caroline Gilman

Caroline Gilman

Caroline Gilman, born in Massachusetts in 1794, edited a popular children's magazine and published both fiction and poetry.