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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)

 

Spring

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;
One glad choral song
     Greets the primrose’s birth;
The lark soars above,
     With its shrill matin strain;
The shepherd boy tunes
     His reed pipe on the plain.

Music, sweet music,
     Cheers meadow and lea;—
In the song of the blackbird,
     The hum of the bee;
The loud happy laughter
     Of children at play
Proclaim how they worship
     Spring’s beautiful day.

The eye of the hale one,
     With joy in its gleam,
Looks up in the noontide,
     And steals from the beam;
But the cheek of the pale one
     Is mark’d with despair,
To feel itself fading,
     When all is so fair.

The hedges, luxuriant
     With flowers and balm,
Are purple with violets,
     And shaded with palm;
The zephyr-kiss’d grass
     Is beginning to wave;
Fresh verdure is decking
     The garden and grave.

Welcome! all hail to thee,
     Heart-stirring May!
Thou hast won from my wild harp
     A rapturous lay.
And the last dying murmur
     That sleeps on the string
Is welcome! All hail to thee,
     Welcome, young Spring!

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

Bring forth the harp, and let us sweep its fullest, loudest string.
The bee below, the bird above, are teaching us to sing
A song for merry harvest; and the one who will not bear
His grateful part partakes a boon he ill deserves to share.
The grasshopper is pouring forth his quick and trembling

poem

Twilight shade is calmly falling
     Round about the dew-robed flowers;
Philomel’s lone song is calling
     Lovers to their fairy bowers;

Echo, on the zephyrs gliding,
     Bears a voice that seems to say,
“Ears and hearts, come, list my tiding,
     This has been a

poem

I love it, I love it; and who shall dare
To chide me for loving that old arm-chair?
I’ve treasured it long as a sainted prize,
I’ve bedew’d it with tears, and embalmed it with sighs;
’Tis bound by a thousand bands to my heart;
Not a tie will break, not a link will start.
Would ye learn