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Manuscript Poems of Sarah Orne Jewett

[Notes and guesses at unreadable words appear in brackets.]

A Sonnet

Why do I love you?  If I told you why
Then you would know the secret that was made
The law that Love has from all time obeyed,
And I should understand a mystery.
From the four corners of the earth have I
Gathered into my heart, all unafraid
The friendships that are mine.  This price I paid:
I gave myself for them most willingly.
The life in me a part of all Life is!
One great power moves the whole world on its way;
When I am happiest is when I find
The next of kin to me   in hills or seas
Or trees that grow, or flowers that bloom in May
Or you dear love   my friend so true and kind.

This sonnet is from an MS in the Louise Chandler Moulton papers (Library of Congress), quoted in John E. Frost's Sarah Orne Jewett, p. 116.


Shall I ever tire of your kisses?
I asked myself to-day
When your arms had been around me
And you had gone away

Will the pine-tree tire of the wind that blows
Through its branches from the sea
And stirs within it its bravest life
As you do mine in me?

Will the flower that the storm has beaten
Be tired of the summer sun
That shines out clear and bright and warm
After the rain is done?

Oh no, my love, my darling
You always grow more dear
Our hearts are one heart always now
And I need never fear.

Reprinted from MS Am 1745.24 (104) by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

15 January 1871

The Daisies

When the good year is old,
And somewhat weary,
Yet has enough of gold
To keep him cheery --
When Earth, clad in her best,
Sits by her neighbor
The Sun, and has a rest
From Summer labor --
When prudent skies [amaze]
The North in hazes
There comes the holiday
Of all the daisies.


They are the folk that won
September's graces.
And charmed the jovial sun
With their bright faces.
He let them linger late;
When they grew sober
He gave them leave to wait
And see October;
For all the quiet land
(Ere days were duller)
Would haste to make it grant
With dear bright color.

Lo all in fields and towns,
And each new comer
Dressed in old fashioned gowns
The move in Summer
Stay yet awhile, behind
Blooms that were stronger
And play with sun and wind
A little longer.
Still happy still alert,
Still [not readable perhaps: memry heart see] --
[Dropped / Dappled] from September's [skint]
When she departed


Till winter comes so near
His shadow chills them,
And they lose half the cheer
September [wills] them
Till their old friend the sun
Becomes forgetful.
And Autumn has begun
To grow regretful;
Then they [make] haste to hide
Their altered faces.
And lie down side by side
In grassy places.

Reprinted from MS Am 1745.24 (24) by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Summer 1875

A Lament

                        Tune, Hamburg.


The tides creep slowly in and out,
            The sea winds blow; the wild birds call;
Oh sweet and bright the wild rose blooms
            There is a shadow o'er them all.

Oh, what to us the rose's bloom?
            How can we care for sea-birds' song?
Through tears we watch the restless sea
            For absent is our dear Aunt Long.

We loved to sit upon the rocks;
            To watch the waves and dashing spray,
 But sigh, for she, who oft last year
            Was spattered with us, is away.

No more we raise our voices sweet
            To that melodious darkey tune,--
There's no Aunt Long to serenade,
            And useless is the fair new moon.

Her grave behavior; solemn looks;
            The hat she wore of ample size
Sweet reminiscences by scores,
            Fond memory shows to mournful eyes.

Oh, "Herring" wails and "Gusty" howls,
            And Mary fadeth like a leaf.
Persis and Sary, pale and thin
            No longer eat, for deepest grief.

The elders strive to hide their grief --
            Her namesake steals away to cry;
The afternoons are spent in tears,
            And unavailing misery.

Her call on Thursday only served
            To make our sadness still more deep.
It passed as quick as swallow's flight,
            Or pleasing vision seen in sleep.

The roses fade upon our cheeks,
            And hushed is mirthful shout and song.
We mourn beside the sad sea waves,
            The absence of our dear Aunt Long.



This poem is in a letter of the summer of 1875 to Mellen Chamberlain.  This transcription by John Alden appears in Boston Public Library Quarterly 9 (1957): 86-96.  It is reprinted here courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.
    Alden writes:
"During their visit to "The Cove" that summer the Jewett girls joined other guests in an omnibus letter to Chamberlain. Sarah's contribution was a poem referring to a relative, a Mrs. Willard, known as "Aunt Long."  She introduces her lines:

            I feel that you will deeply sympathize in the feelings I have tried to express in the enclosed Lament, and send it, thinking it will be more interesting than any other addition to this letter....

Whether or not Chamberlain's sense of humor was equal to the poem we shall never know."

Tune: Hamburg:  The hymn tune "Hamburg," is credited to Lowell Mason (1824).  Perhaps the most familiar hymn sung to this tune is "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (1707) by Isaac Watts.


All in the winter weather
    I found my flowers in bloom.
How could they miss the summer sun
    with firelight in the room!

A tall white lily [in the corner ?],
    You in the twilight stand.
And I can touch the dear bright roses
    Beside you, with my hand.

    Sarah Orne Jewett


This poem so far is known only in a manuscript held by an unknown private owner.  The manuscript appears clearly to be in Jewett's handwriting.  It is a fair copy, presumably meant for a gift presentation, and Jewett has signed it.  It is illustrated with an image of two red roses at the top of the page.   I have not seen color work by Jewett of this kind.  In the scanned copy of the ms. I was able to examine, the medium of the image is not clear.  Is it a color printed page for writing fair copies  as gifts?  Is it a unique piece of painting in oil or watercolor?  While it is possible the image was made by Jewett, this seems unlikely, as the roses are more realistic than her typically impressionistic style of watercolor.
    One might reasonably guess that the poem is addressed to Annie Fields, though Jewett was close to others to whom the poem might be addressed.  The lack of a date further complicates speculation about the poem's occasion.

Unless otherwise indicated, transcribed and edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.  Corrections and comments are welcome.


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