Sunday, June 5, 2011

More on Ella Wheeler Wilcox

It was my better half's sudden love of poetry that made me aware of Mrs. Wilcox. The wife and her daughter were antiquing in downtown Glendale last Saturday when the wife purchased on impulse a book entitled Maurine and other Poems and also buying a book by Sinclair Lewis titled Free Air. Maurine and other Poems was published around 1888 the year of copyright and Free Air in 1919, both first editions as far as I can determine and probably not worth much.

Anyway, I thumbed through Maurine and read a couple of poems and I liked them, one called "The Story" reminds me of "Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill:"

They met each other in the glade--
  She lifted up her eyes;
Alack the day! Alack the maid!
 She breathed in swift surprise,
Alas! alas! the woe that comes from lifting up the

The pail was full, the path was steep--
  He reached to her his hand;
She felt her warm young pulses leap,
  But did not understand.
Alas! alas! the woe that comes from clasping hand
  with hand.

She sat beside him in the wood--
  He wooed with words and sighs;
Ah! love in spring seems sweet and good,
  And maidens are not wise.
Alas! alas! the woe that comes from listing lover's

And etc., etc.

Ella Wheeler married Robert Wilcox in 1884 and lived in Connecticut and then on to NYC and then back to Conn.
They built two houses on Long Island Sound and several cottages known as Bungalow Court where they held literary and artistic gatherings. They had one child, who died shortly after birth. She and her husband became interested in the occult and made a pact to communicate with each other whoever died first. It was Robert who died first, but he never contacted her and she couldn't understand why. Hmm-mm.  I think she needed a Sylvia Browne to tell her why or explain it to her. Maybe she just wasn't seeing the light.

She wrote over twenty books of poetry and her autobiography over the years. One of them is "Custer" and another is "Hello, Boys!" about the First World War, and others covering Power, Progress, Sentiment, Optimism and Passion and still others on various subjects. 

I never much cared for poetry, not even Leaves of Grass, but I found the poems in Maurine easy to read and understand for the most part and the time spent was well worth it. More of them can be found on Project Gutenberg. Photo of Mrs. Wilcox from Wikimedia Commons:



  1. You might like Edgar Guest for a manlier hand at the quill.

  2. I've heard of him, and will give him a look-see.

  3. I definitely didn't care for Leaves of Grass. This sounds much better to me.

  4. Charles, I liked it because I didn't have to use much brainpower.