June 17, 2011

Harte: Tossed them on the flowing sea

The June 17, 1860 issue of the Golden Era included the poem "Question" by Bret Harte:

When I meet her little figure,
Simple, guileless little figure,
With its graceful crest that tosses
          Up and down the flowing sea,
Does she dream that all above her —
All around her—still must love her,
Just as I do? Does she ever
          Look at me?

When the sunset's flush is on her,
Do her fancies ever wander,
Do her girlish fancies ever
          Mingle with the flowing sea?
In her tender meditation,
In her mystic speculation,
Is there any lonely figure
          Just like me?

When she took the flowers I sent her —
Sent in secret—sent in longing;
And all, all, except the daisy,
          Tossed them on the flowing sea;
When she placed that happy flower
On her bosom's trembling dower,
Now I wonder did she ever
          Think of me?

Hush, my heart. She's coming, coming;
Loud above the city's humming,
I can hear her footfall's beating,
          With the ever flowing sea.
Rosy red—a flush is on her,
As she passes—have I won her?
Eros! help me — I am sinking
          In the ever flowing sea.

"Francis Brett Hart" (as he was legally named) contributed eleven poems and 74 prose works in the Golden Era within about twelve months. Many of these contributions were of little merit, including his several love poems like the one above. During this time, however, he experimented with various pseudonyms and nom de plumes, including "The Bohemian," before settling on the byline "Bret Harte."

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