May 2, 2012

Death of Amelia Welby

Though born in Maryland, Amelia B. Welby became better associated with Kentucky. She moved there in the 1830s and married a businessman in Louisville. She became known in the area after publishing several poems under the name "Amelia" in the Louisville Journal. She was soon recognized as one of the most talented women writers in the west (back when the western part of the country was not so very far west). She died in Lexington, Kentucky on May 2, 1852 at the age of 33.

Welby published only two books in her lifetime; one in 1844, the other in 1850. Upon her death, many lamented that she did not have time enough to do more. Among her short works is "Twilight at Sea":

The twilight hours, like birds, flew by,
   As lightly and as free;
Ten thousand stars were in the sky,
   Ten thousand in the sea:
For every wave, with dimpled face,
   That leaped into the air,
Had caught a star in its embrace
   And held it trembling there.

Welby corresponded with several popular women writers, including Fanny Osgood, who died only two years before her. Osgood, however, had by then written a tribute poem "To Amelia B. Welby":

Darling of all hearts that listen
To your warble wild and true!
As a lovely star doth glisten
In the far West, — so do you!

Are you sure you are a mortal?
Or a Peri in disguise,
Watching till the heavenly portal
Lets you into Paradise?

Whiling all the weary hours
With the songs you used to sing
In those bright aerial bowers
Where the rainbow dips its wing?

Peri! no! — all woman-feeling
Pleads in that impassion'd lay;
Yet 'tis woman proudly stealing
Some fond angel's harp away;

Mingling with divine emotion
Holy as a seraph's thought,
Human love and warm devotion,
Into rarest pathos wrought.

Sweep again the silver chords!
Pour the soul of music there!
Write, for your heart's tune, the words,—
All our hearts will play the air!

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