Alfred H. Miles, ed. Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.
Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles
Cicely Fox-Smith (18821954)
THE PUBLICATION of four successive volumes of verse by a writer who has not attained to twenty-four years of age is surely phenomenal, and one naturally looks for signs of haste and immaturity in work produced so early and with so much rapidity. The work, however, if not perfect, will bear the scrutiny, and its examination only increases ones wonder at both the quantity and the quality of the output.
Cicely Fox-Smith was born at Lymm, in Cheshire, in 1882, and was educated at home. Her father, who died in 1905, was a barrister on the Northern Circuit, an old Balliol mana pupil of Jowett, and the Arnold prize-winner of his year; her mother, a clergymans daughter. Her publications are Songs of Greater Britain (1899), The Foremost Trail (1900), Men of Men (1901), and Wings of the Morning (1904).
Songs of Greater Britain appeared at the outbreak of the South African War, and the time spirit is well represented in its pages. But nature is not forgotten amid the blaze and fury of strife; the poet has still time to listen to the skylarks song and note the falling of the autumn leaf. The Foremost Trail appeared in the following year, while the war was still raging far afield, and its echoes found rhythmic expression in its numbers. Wings of the Morning was issued in 1904, when peace was once more smiling on the country, and, though the patriotic note is not absent, sweeter notes prevail.
The selections given here fairly represent the several volumes, and show an advance from first to last from which something may be expected in future volumes. These will be awaited with interest,hopeful interest not perhaps unattended by anxiety. The poet is so young, and the world is so jealous of its best, that both can afford to wait, if by waiting betterment can be achieved.