Florence Earle Coates (Morris)
FLORENCE EARLE COATES
When the Peace Jubilee Committee turned to the Quaker City for a poet to celebrate the advent of peace the inevitable choice was Mrs. Coates. She has rarely published prose and she stands for lyric poetry as does no other author of the city. Her poems have had wide currency, through the principal magazines, from which they have been copied endlessly in the press at home and abroad. Her gift is distinctly lyric with the pathetic vibration born of inwardness. She was the friend of Matthew Arnold, not only in the sense of holding close association with him and his family, but in the sense of dicipleship as well. Her poems are her own distinctly, but she derives from Arnold, as did he, from the pastoral Greeks.
Mrs. Coates is a native of Philadelphia, which apart from her reputation, renders fit her choice as Jubilee poet. She was educated chiefly at the school of Theodore D. Weld, in New England, and afterwards in the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Paris. She also received instructions at Brussels, where she lived for over a year. Her artistic endowment included music as well as poetry and in this art she achieved remarkable proficiency, but her ultimate expression was verse, and music is now but a voiceless passion. Many of Mrs. Coates's poems have been set to music, a treatment to which they particularly lend themselves. "I Love and the World Is Mine" is one of the most noted of these. Her gift of dramatic expression is marked. She renders Shakespeare with grace, power and illuminating interpretation, and she is no less lucid in rendering the difficult dramatic effects of Robert Browning. Those who have heard her read at the Browning Society of Philadelphia, of which she has for three years been the honored president, retain impressions of dramatic grasp and depth rarely equalled saving by such readers as Fanny Kemble or Lady Martin.
Mrs. Coates has done much for the intellectual advancement of Philadelphia. Her leadership of the society for general literacy study, miscalled the Browning, is but one of her many connections. She belongs to all the important woman's clubs, and deriving her lineage from four of the "Mayflower" pilgrims, she is naturally a member of the Colonial Dams and kindred organizations. Through her husband, Mr. Edward H. Coates, President of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she comes into touch with the abundant artistic life of the city.
Thus far Mrs. Coates has published but one volume, the Poems issued by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, this year. These have had ample appreciation from the press and from more intimate critics whose verdict is weightier. Her single prose essay was a paper on Matthew Arnold, which appeared in the Century.
Harrison S. Morris