Miss Helena Coleman was born in a parsonage at Newcastle, Ontario, being a descendent of John Quincy Adams, and resided most of her life in Toronto. Her two books of verse are Songs and Sonnets (1906), and Marching Men (1917), and from these distinguished volumes, long out of print, this present selection is made. Hitherto this series of Chap-Books has refrained from including poems which have already appeared in book form. It has been felt, however, that poems so deservedly popular as these should be made available in this form.
Hast singed thy pretty wings, poor moth?
Fret not; some moths there be
That wander all the weary night,
Longing in vain to see
Hast felt the scorching flame, poor heart?
Grieve not; some hearts exist
That know not, grow not to be strong,
And weep not, having missed
Afloat upon the tide one summer night,
Dreamily watching how the moonbeams bright
Made little broken rings of fairy light,
And vaguely lost in that half-conscious mood
That steals upon the sense in solitude,
I drifted near a shadowy island wood
Where all was silent, scarce a leaf was stirred
So still the air when suddenly I heard
The piercing, anguished cry as of a bird
In such distress it made the echoes ring
And set the startled silence quivering
The wild appeal of some sweet feathered thing
In its extremity. And then a sound,
Half-muffled, faint, and all again was drowned
In silence inarticulate, profound.
I went my way along the lonely shore
But that despairing cry the sound it bore
Of destiny remains for evermore;
And in my restless heart that bitter strain
Of questioning doubt and wild rebellious pain
I thought was laid came surging up again.
Featuring cover artwork by Jennifer Porter.