The Poetry of Lillian E. Curtis

Lillian E. Curtis was born in Chicago in the mid-1800s, and she published two collections of poems. A third was written but was destroyed in a fire before publication. Thankfully, these gems survived.

“Only One Eye”

Oh! She was a lovely girl,
So pretty and so fair,
With gentle, lovelit eyes,
And wavy, dark-brown hair.

I loved the gentle girl,
But oh! I heaved a sigh,
When first she told me she could see,
Out of only one eye.

But soon I thought within myself,
I’d better save my tear and sigh,
To bestow upon some I know
Who has more than one eye.

She is brave and intelligent,
Too she is witty and wise,
She’ll accomplish more now, than many
Who have two eyes.

Ah! You need not pity her,
She needs not your tear and sigh,
She makes good use, I tell you,
Of her one remaining eye.

In the home where we are hastening
In our eternal Home on High,
See that you be not rivaled
By the girl with only one eye.

“The Potato”

What on this wide earth,
That is made, or does by nature grow,
Is more homely, yet more beautiful,
Than the useful Potato?

What would this world full of people do,
Rich and poor, high and low,
Were it not for this little-thought-of
But very necessary Potato?

True ’tis homely to look on,
Nothing pretty in even its blow,
But it will bear acquaintance,
This useful Potato.

For when it is cooked and opened,
It’s so white and mellow,
You forget it ever was homely,
This useful Potato.

On the whole it is a very plain plant,
Makes no conspicuous show.
But the internal appearance is lovely,
Of the unostentatious Potato.

The useful and the beautiful
Are not far apart we know.
And thus the beautiful are glad to have,
The homely looking Potato.

On the land, or on the sea,
Wherever we may go,
We are always glad to welcome
The homely Potato.

A practical and moral lesson
This may plainly show,
That though homely, our heart can be
Like that of the homely Potato.

“The Stuttering Lover” By Fred Emerson Brooks

I LU-LOVE you very well,

Much mu-more than I can tell,

With a lu-lu-lu-lu-love I cannot utter;

I kn-know just what to say

But my tongue gets in the way,

And af-fe-fe-fe-fe-fection ‘s bound to stutter!

When a wooer wu-wu-woos ,

And a cooer cu-cu-coos,

Till his face is re-re-red as a tomato,

Take his heart in bi-bi-bits,

Every portion fi-fi-fits,

Though his love song su-su-seem somewhat staccato!

I ‘ll wu-worship you, of course,

And nu-never get divorce,

Though you stu-stu-stu-stu-storm in angry weather;

For whu-when you ‘re in a pique,

So mu-mad you cannot speak,

We ‘ll be du-du-du-du-dumb then both together.

“A Tragedy” By Theophilus Marzials


The barges down in the river flop.

Flop, plop.
Above, beneath.

From the slimy branches the grey drips drop,
As they scraggle black on the thin grey sky,
Where the black cloud rack-hackles drizzle and fly
To the oozy waters, that lounge and flop
On the black scrag piles, where the loose cords plop,
As the raw wind whines in the thin tree-top.

Plop, plop.
And scudding by

The boatmen call out hoy! and hey!
All is running water and sky,

And my head shrieks — “Stop,”
And my heart shrieks — “Die.”

*          *          *          *          *

My thought is running out of my head;
My love is running out of my heart,
My soul runs after, and leaves me as dead,
For my life runs after to catch them — and fled
They all are every one! — and I stand, and start,
At the water that oozes up, plop and plop,
On the barges that flop
And dizzy me dead.
I might reel and drop.

And the shrill wind whines in the thin tree-top
Flop, plop.

*          *          *          *          *

A curse on him.
Ugh! yet I knew — I knew —
If a woman is false can a friend be true?
It was only a lie from beginning to end —

My Devil — My “Friend”

I had trusted the whole of my living to!

Ugh; and I knew!

So what do I care,

And my head is empty as air —

I can do,
I can dare,
(Plop, plop
The barges flop
Drip drop.)

I can dare! I can dare!

And let myself all run away with my head
And stop.

Plop, flop.