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About this poet

Eliza Cook was born on December 24, 1818, in London, England. Self-educated as a child, she began writing poems at the age of fifteen and published her first poetry collection, Lays of a Wild Harp: A Collection of Metrical Pieces (John Bennett, 1835), two years later. Cook also published poems in magazines such as Metropolitan Magazine, New Monthly Magazine, and Weekly Dispatch, which published her most popular poem, “The Old Arm-Chair.”

In 1838, Cook published her second collection, Melaia and Other Poems, which was well received in both England and America, where an edition was reissued in 1844, and followed by Poems, Second Series (Simpkin, Marshall, 1845) and New Echoes, and Other Poems (Routledge, Warne & Routledge, 1864). Known as a poet of the working class, Cook wrote poems that advocated for political freedom for women and addressed questions of class and social justice. Despite her popularity, she was criticized for the ways in which she bucked gender conventions in both her writing and her life; Cook wore male clothing and had a relationship with American actress Charlotte Cushman, to whom she addressed a number of her poems.

In 1849, Cook started a penny-biweekly called Eliza Cook’s Journal, which contained poems, reviews, and social essays written mostly by her for a female audience. She continued the publication until 1854. Plagued by bad health in the last years of her life, Cook published little; she died on September 23, 1889, in Wimbledon, England.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

New Echoes, and Other Poems (Routledge, Warne & Routledge, 1864)
Poems, Second Series (Simpkin, Marshall, 1845)
Melaia and Other Poems (J. and H. G. Langley, 1844)
Lays of a Wild Harp: A Collection of Metrical Pieces (John Bennett, 1835)

 

Song for the New Year

Old Time has turned another page
      Of eternity and truth;
He reads with a warning voice to age,
      And whispers a lesson to youth.
A year has fled o’er heart and head
      Since last the yule log burnt;
And we have a task to closely ask,
      What the bosom and brain have learnt?
Oh! let us hope that our sands have run
      With wisdom’s precious grains;
Oh! may we find that our hands have done
      Some work of glorious pains.
Then a welcome and cheer to the merry new year,
      While the holly gleams above us;
With a pardon for the foes who hate,
      And a prayer for those who love us.

We may have seen some loved ones pass
      To the land of hallow’d rest;
We may miss the flow of an honest brow
      And the warmth of a friendly breast:
But if we nursed them while on earth,
      With hearts all true and kind,
Will their spirits blame the sinless mirth
      Of those true hearts left behind?
No, no! it were not well or wise
      To mourn with endless pain;
There’s a better world beyond the skies,
      Where the good shall meet again.
Then a welcome and cheer to the merry new year.
      While the holly gleams above us;
With a pardon for the foes who hate,
      And a prayer for those who love us.

Have our days rolled on serenely free
      From sorrow’s dim alloy?
Do we still possess the gifts that bless
      And fill our souls with joy?
Are the creatures dear still clinging near?
      Do we hear loved voices come?
Do we gaze on eyes whose glances shed
      A halo round our home?
Oh, if we do, let thanks be pour’d
      To Him who hath spared and given,
And forget not o’er the festive board
      The mercies held from heaven.
Then a welcome and cheer to the merry new year,
      While the holly gleams above us;
With a pardon for the foes who hate,
      And a prayer for those who love us.

This poem appeared in Melaia and Other Poems (Charles Tilt, 1840). It is in the public domain.

This poem appeared in Melaia and Other Poems (Charles Tilt, 1840). It is in the public domain.

Eliza Cook

Eliza Cook

Eliza Cook was born on December 24, 1818, in London, England. Self-educated as a child, she began writing poems at the age of fifteen and published her first poetry collection, Lays of a Wild Harp: A Collection of Metrical Pieces (John Bennett, 1835), two years later. Cook also published poems in magazines such as Metropolitan Magazine, New Monthly Magazine, and Weekly Dispatch, which published her most popular poem, “The Old Arm-Chair.”

by this poet

poem
                    
          When the merry spring time weaves
          Its peeping bloom and dewy leaves;
          When the primrose opes its eye,
          And the young moth flutters by;
          When the plaintive turtle dove
          Pours its notes of peace and love;
And the clear sun flings its glory
poem

Welcome, all hail to thee!
     Welcome, young Spring!
Thy sun-ray is bright
     On the butterfly’s wing.
Beauty shines forth
     In the blossom-robed trees;
Perfume floats by
     On the soft southern breeze.

Music, sweet music,
     Sounds over the earth;

poem

I wear not the purple of earth-born kings,
Nor the stately ermine of lordly things;
But monarch and courtier, though great they be,
Must fall from their glory and bend to me.
My sceptre is gemless; yet who can say
They will not come under its mighty sway?
Ye may learn who I am,—there’s