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(authors icon)1918

Elizabeth Farnsworth Mears--

James Gates Percival

from Wisconsin Authors and Their Works   1918
by Charles Rounds

Mrs. Mears, writing under the names "Nellie Wildwood" and "Ianthe," was frequently called the first Wisconsin poetess. Newspaper comment of a half century ago testifies to the high opinion in which she was held.

Main St Hazel Green

James Gates Percival, the eccentric recluse, poet, scientist, graduate of Yale, and for some years state geologist of Wisconsin, whose "hermitage" at Hazel Green had just one door, and that in the rear, was likewise frequently mentioned as comparable with Bryant for the purity and vision of his writings; but literature and literary criticisms and estimates are not stable quantities, and now the present tastes of readers of poetry have turned to other styles and other interests, and so these writers of a former generation who charmed many of the parents and grand-parents of the present readers of this book are scarcely ever read.

Helen & Mary Mears

It is with satisfaction, however, that at least one poem from the pen of each of these writers is included. Should the reader care to look into the estimates and opinions formerly entertained by intelligent critics with respect to Mr. Percival, he will find an interesting biography by H. E. Legler, together with two volumes of Percival's poems, in the Milwaukee Public Library. It should be noted by the Milwaukee readers of this book that Mr. Legler wrote, set into type, printed, and bound his book on Percival, in his own home, which stands on the corner of Concord and Hackett avenues, just opposite Governor Philipp's residence.

Mrs. Mears was the mother of Mary Mears... .

Mears Home, Oshkosh

TO THE STORM SPIRITS by Elizabeth Farnsworth Mears

Oh welcome, ye storm spirits, hitting around,
Though the knell of destruction your mad voices sound;
Grand to me is the gleam of the lightning's red flash--
The thunder's deep roar and the wild torrent's clash.
Strange, mystical spirits! Sublime is the sweep
Of your fast fleeting wings o'er the billowy deep,
Awakening in each ever-varying phase
From the forest's wild harpstrings, weird echoing lays.

Shriek your melodies fierce in the listening ear!
My soul loves their rage--never shrinking with fear--
One brief hour of tumult, grand, awful as this,
Glads me more than whole ages of calm, quiet bliss.
My spirit would soar on your wild-rushing wing,
And exulting in glorious freedom, would spring
Away to the shores of some dark, rugged land--
To the high-heaving ocean's bleak, desolate strand.

While the elements raging 'mid that surging flood,
Gleam all white like the walls of the high throne of God;
And there would I stay till the fury was o'er,
And the storm-lifted sea heaved its waters no more--
No far-sounding anthems, loud-roaring and deep,
But rippling and soft from the billows of sleep,
As if great Jehovah had spoken--"Be still!"--
And the winds and the waves had obeyed His high will.

With them would I climb the steep mountain's high crest,
While yet in its soft vernal robes it was drest,
And exult that their glorious beauty would perish
Like the loves and the hopes which so fondly we cherish.
When all radiant grandeur had sunk to decay,
I then would fain leave this frail casket of clay,
And free from all chains of this world's weary strife,
Return to the giver of light and of life.



My place is in the quiet vale,
The chosen haunt of simple thought;
I seek not fortune's flattering gale,
I better love the peaceful lot.

I leave the world of noise and show,
To wander by my native brook;
I ask, in life's unruffled flow,
No treasure but my friend and book.

These better suit the tranquil home,
Where the clear water murmurs by;
And if I wish awhile to roam,
I have an ocean in the sky.

Fancy can charm and feeling bless
With sweeter hours than fashion knows;
There is no calmer quietness,
Than home around the bosom throws.

"Elizabeth Farnsworth Mears and James Gates Percival." Wisconsin Authors and Their Works. Madison: The Parker Educational Company, 1918. 382-384.
From the GLS Department of Special Collections reference room: PS 283 W6 R6 1918.