Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles
Annie Matheson (1853–1924)
 
IT is some distinction for a modern poet to attain to the publication of a second volume of verse, and when a writer of poetry has found a public for three or four volumes, a somewhat unusual result has been achieved. When the verse is of a character which is not in a broad sense of the word popular, the success is the more marked.  1
  Annie Matheson’s several volumes followed each other through the last decade of the century. “Religion of Humanity, and Other Poems” (1890) impressed those able to discriminate by its earnestness of purpose, nobility of thought, and distinction of style and form—“Memory’s Song” being selected for special praise for its simplicity and pathos. “Love’s Music” (1894) displayed the same humanitarian and philosophic qualities, and included some graceful lyrics, of which “An April Song” and “A Christmas Lyric” may be mentioned.  2
  “Love Triumphant” (1898) shows a distinct advance in freedom of utterance and command of technique. The title poem was suggested by the picture by Sir E. Burne Jones, and the volume includes: “The Great Commoner,” an ode to the memory of Gladstone; one to Robert Browning; and one, “The Year of Rejoicing,” to the “Empress Mother”; besides a number of other fine poems. Of the lyrics, one entitled “Love” follows:

        Oh, what is love? a hope, a dream?
  The secret source of upward strife!
The pain that will from death redeem—
        The life of life!
  
A bliss in agony; at last,
  As One Whose Name is Love has willed,
The peace that comes when storm is past
        Through faith fulfilled.
  
At first, the waking throes of birth,
  A quickening goad, a smiting rod;
At last, the crowning grace of earth,
        The restful ecstasy of God!
  3
 
  The following poem, entitled “The Mist,” has also been cited as one of the successes of this volume:

        The sun and the dew were so far apart,
  The world would have said they could never have met,
But the sun looked down with a burning heart
  When the earth with the crystal dew was wet;
So the dew went up in a golden mist—
            And they kist,
Till the dew came back at the close of day,
  In a robe of the colour of amethyst,—
And a crown of pearls on the green earth lay,
  Like tears of hope and of wild regret
That told of an unforgotten tryst,
            Ere the sun had set.
  4
 
  “Selected Poems, Old and New” (1900) gathered the best of the shorter poems from the preceding volumes, and presented them, with some more recently written, in convenient form. Of the quality of these the selections here will testify.  5
  Annie Matheson was born at Blackheath, in 1853, the daughter of the late Rev. James Matheson, of Nottingham, and was privately educated. She wrote an introduction to “John Halifax,” in Methuen’s “Little Library,” and a critical note to “Adam Bede,” and to “Silas Marner,” in the Temple Classic Series; and has continually contributed to literary journalism.  6
 
 
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