Biography of Eliza Cook
Eliza Cook was an English author, Chartist poet and writer born in London Road, Southwark
She was the daughter of a local tradesman. She attended the local Sunday Schools and was encouraged by the son of the music master to produce her first volume of poetry. From this she took confidence and in 1837 began to offer verse to the radical Weekly Dispatch, then edited by William Johnson Fox. She was a staple of its pages for the next ten years. She also offered material to The Literary Gazette, Metropolitan Magazine and New Monthly.
Her work for the Dispatch and New Monthly was later pirated by George Julian Harney, the Chartist, for the Northern Star. Familiar with the London Chartist movement, in its various sects, she followed many of the older radicals in disagreeing with the O'Brienites and O'Connorites in their disregard for repeal of the Corn Laws. She also preferred the older Radicals' path of Friendly Societies and self-education.
In 1835 while only seventeen years of age she published her first volume titled Lays of a Wild Harp. In 1838 she published Melaia and other Poems, and from 1849 to 1854 wrote, edited, and published Eliza Cook's Journal, a weekly periodical she described as one of "utility and amusement." Cook also published Jottings from my Journal (1860), and New Echoes (1864); and in 1863 she was given a Civil List pension income of £100 a year.
Her poem The Old Armchair (1838) made hers a household name for a generation, both in England and in America. Cook was a proponent of political and sexual freedom for women, and believed in the ideology of self-improvement through education, something she called "levelling up." This made her great favourite with the working-class public. Her works became a staple of anthologies throughout the century. She died in Wimbledon.
Eliza Cook's Works:
The Fair Rose of Killarney - A Ballad - By Miss Eliza Cook - Music by Stephen Glover (New-York Mirror Saturday 29 June 1839 pp 32
Her article "People Who Do Not Like Poetry" (May 1849) can be found in the book A Serious Occupation: Literary Criticism by Victorian Women Writers
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Eliza Cook Poems
The Old Arm-chair
I LOVE it, I love it ; and who shall dare To chide me for loving that old Arm-chair ? I've treasured it long as a sainted prize ; I've bedewed it with tears, and embalmed it with sighs.
HE crawls to the cliff and plays on a brink Where every eye but his own would shrink; No music he hears but the billow’s noise, And shells and weeds are his only toys.
Song of the Worm
THE worm, the rich worm, has a noble domain In the field that is stored with its millions of slain ; The charnel-grounds widen, to me they belong, With the vaults of the sepulchre, sculptured and strong.
Don't Tell the World that You're Waiting...
THREE summers have gone since the first time we met, love, And still 'tis in vain that I ask thee to wed ; I hear no reply but a gentle " Not yet, love," With a smile of your lip, and a shake of your head.
The Quiet Eye
THE ORB I like is not the one That dazzles with its lightning gleam; That dares to look upon the sun, As though it challenged brighter beam.
Buttercups and Daisies
I never see a young hand hold The starry bunch of white and gold, But something warm and fresh will start About the region of my heart; -
I gazed on orbs of flashing black; I met the glow of hazel light; I marked the hue of laughing blue, That sparkled in the festive night.
I Leave Thee for Awhile
I leave thee for awhile, my love, I leave thee with a sigh; The fountain spring within my soul is playing in mine eye;
Winter the Season For the Exercise of Ch...
We know 'tis good that old Winter should come, Roving awhile from his Lapland home; 'Tis fitting that we should hear the sound
TURPIN had his Black Bess, and she carried him well, As fame with her loud-breathing trumpet will tell; She knew not the lash, and she suffered no spur; A bold rider was all that was needed by her.
Be Kind When You Can
Be kind when you can, though the kindness be little, 'Tis small letters make up philosophers' scrolls; The crystal of Happiness, vivid and brittle, Can seldom be cut into very large bowls.
The Flag of the Free
Tis the streamer of England - it floats o'er the brave- 'Tis the fairest unfurled o'er the land or the wave; But though brightest in story and matchless in fight, 'Tis the heralds of Mercy as well as of Might.
Song of the Sailor Boy
Cheer up, cheer up, my mother dear! Ah! Why do you sit and weep? Do you think that he who guards me here, Forsakes me on the deep?
I've come to the cabin he danced his wild jigs in, As neat a mud palace as ever was seen;
Song of the Worm
THE worm, the rich worm, has a noble domain
In the field that is stored with its millions of slain ;
The charnel-grounds widen, to me they belong,
With the vaults of the sepulchre, sculptured and strong.
The tower of ages in fragments is laid,
Moss grows on the stones, and I lurk in its shade ;
And the hand of the giant and heart of the brave
Must turn weak and submit to the worm and the grave.