Poem by Eliza Cook to Charlotte Cushman, June, 1846

Dublin Core


Poem by Eliza Cook to Charlotte Cushman, June, 1846


Actors and Actresses
Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876
Relationships-- Intimate--Same-sex
Intimacy--With Subjects


A love letter from Cook devoted to Cushman, addressed to C******** C****** but obvious to those in her social circle. The poem is published in the Weekly Dispatch on June 14, 1846.


Library of Congress, Charlotte Cushman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.


Cook, Eliza, 1818-1889


LoC, CCP 10: 2973-2975





Poem Item Type Metadata


Cook, Eliza, 1818-1889


Cushman, Charlotte Saunders, 1816-1876


[2973] Stanzas Addressed to
Cxxxxxxxx Cxxxxxx
I love the full and anthem swell
of Ocean's sweeping wave,
I love the soft and merry song where
streamlet ripples +++;
And many an hour of lonely bliss
I've laid and dreamed away
the weedy strand and grassy bank
to hear such minstrels play.
But I have heard thy ready speech
yield music that exceeds
The solemn bass among the rocks
the treble in the seeds;
And I have learnt to love still
more the language of thy tones,
I have billows chiming round the cliff
the booklet o'er the stones.
I love the broad and bright expanse
of summer's glowing sky,
Where honest I light and beaming truth
are seen by every eye;
I love that wide and spreading truth
earth the fresh and shining plain
All beautiful with rainbow bloom,
and stored with harvest grain.
But I have seen thy open brow, and
marked a presence there

[2973 reverse] A spirit like the azure noon +++
dazzling, strong and fair;
And I have learnt to love that +++
where dullest gaze can find
The sick and vernal flowers of soul
the lasting fruits of mind.
+++ grateful in its greeting is
west wind on my cheek;
And many a time I've wondered
forth the balmy touch to seek;
And blessed are the greenwood +++
that strech upon my way
Holding me in their fragrant +++
as though they have me stay;
But I have met thy earnest have
held forth in Friendship's bond
It was the herald of the heart. +++
clinging, close and fond;
The breeze may seek with roses +++
the sweetest tendrils clutch,
I know a dearer stealing breath I
know a dearer touch.
I love the shade of twilight's +++
when daisies go to rest,
When the sound moon bedecks +++
+++ the pale star gems the +++
I love the deep and placid tint +++
stains then ruin wall,
The colours of Time's mourning +++
the one hue blending all.

[2974] But I have looked into thine eye,
and seen a tinge of grey
More soft and mellow than the veil
worn by departing day;
[Tis[?] darker than the crumbling stone
but oh! its glances pour
a flushing ray into my breast it
never felt before.
I will not praise as others praise
thou need'st it not from me,
Thy genius has won its meed, and
Fame is crowning thee;
I care not that my lip should tell
what every lip tells o'er,
The rudest spirit owns thy spelt, and
mine can do no more.
I held thee closely ere I knew thy
gift was rare and great,
My being was enlinked with thine
by some entransing fate
and now I bow not to thee as the
million gazers nod,
To them thou art an incense pyre
to me a "household god"
Sleep is a tyrant king in might—
none can resist his way
But yet how gentle are the means by
which he wins way.
So thou hast +++, all absolute to +++
my inmost soul.
But yet how calm, how dream like is the
strength of thy control

[2974 reverse] There are sealed pages in my heart
traced with illumined hand,
That none can see, and if they did
oh who would understand?
But thou, by some strange sympathy
hast thrown a searching look;
and read at sight the hardest scroll
indorsed within the book.
I love thee with a free born will
that no rude force can break.
Thou lovest me. I know thou dost. and
for my own poor sake;
and though the coward's barque is
Launched it can but vainly flit
While we may smile to watch the
aim too meanly weak to hit[?].
Time rears the trodden acorn cup
into the giant stem,
Time guards within the roughest
shell the pure and swelling gem,
Envy would crush affection's germ, +++
scorn Truth's rugged place,
But Time will show that both will +++
still gaining might and grace
I've staked my faith upon thy +++
it will not cheat my hope.
I cling to it as [illegible, crossed out] trustingly
sailor to the rope;
For God has e'er been good to me, +++
where I once believed.      x

[2975]x I never found my spirit left 
despairing and deceived.
Full many a year may be in store
before every grave is heaped,
Perchance the rod may cover me
before the corn is reaped:
But then or now thy form will
be among the few dear things,
Binding my soul to earthly joys — teaching
that Death has stings.
Fair is the sunny branch above
fair is the grass around,
and fair the wild flowers fresh
and sweet to Nature's forehead bound
But how much fairer would they
seem if thou wert here to share
The old elm's shade — the sodded
bank — the bright and perfumed air
I hou'lt wonder from me far and
long, but promise I shall be
Remembered by thee as a bird thinks
of its nesting tree;
Oh, promise thou will heed my
name as long as I heed thine,
and Friendship's hand shall care
them both upon her firmest shrine,
Eliza Cook.

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Secondary Texts: Comments

"For those in Cook’s social circle, the identity of C*** C*** was no mystery, and for them, the poem must have seemed like a public declaration of same-sex devotion and perhaps desire" (Easley 2018, p. 38)

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Cook, Eliza, 1818-1889, “Poem by Eliza Cook to Charlotte Cushman, June, 1846,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed March 26, 2023, https://archivalgossip.com/collection/items/show/331.

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