August 27, 2011

Moultons: the way through life


Six weeks after graduating from a women's seminary in Troy, New York, the Connecticut-born poet (Ellen) Louise Chandler married William Upham Moulton on August 27, 1855. Mr. Moulton was the editor of The True Flag in Boston and had published some of Miss Chandler's earliest writings.

Within a year, the newly-married Mrs. Moulton published Juno Clifford, her second book, though its title page bore only "by a lady." The book was praised by many, including Sarah Helen Whitman, who served as a sort of mentor to the younger writer. Her only book prior to her marriage, This, That, and the Other (which, incidentally, did bear her real name) combined both prose and poetry. Among the poems is "My Wife: An Impromptu":

Where the maples nodded together,
   At the edge of the pathless wood,
With a basket of ripe red berries,
   A sweet little maiden stood.
Her hair was like shadows of sunset,
   Falling soft over meadows asleep,
Or the earliest break of the morning
   Pouring gold upon lull-side and steep.

The green leaves lay light on her forehead,
   As if wood-nymphs were crowning their queen;
And the tremulous smile of the sunshine
   Slept warm on the tresses between;
The blue-bells were nodding beside her,
   But her bright eyes were bluer to see,
As they turned, with an innocent gladness,
   That fair summer morning, on me!

Her cheeks wore the hue of ripe peaches
   The sunlight so often hath kissed,
And her figure was light as the fairies
   That ride on the morning's blue mist!
But her voice was like nothing, save Eden,
   And the musical breezes which blow
Over meadows that sleep in the sunshine,
   Where never falls tempest or snow!

And she said, with her blue eyes uplifted,
   And a blush on her berry-brown cheek,
"Will you show me the way, sir, to Ashley?'"
   And her voice was so gentle and meek,
That I caught to my heart the maiden,
   And sued her to be my wife;
So I showed her the way to Ashley,
   And she shows me the way through life.

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