Elizabeth Dickinson West: Irish Woman Poet

Elizabeth Dickinson West was born around 1850. The daughter of the Dean of  St Patrick’s in Dublin, she studied under, and later married the critic and poet Edward Dowden. Verses 1856-1884, A Critical Edition is available online.

“There shall be no more Sea.” Ah, surely this
Is only for the souls who reach the bliss
Of Paradise! They need not seek the kiss
Of Earth’s great mother, Sea; nor will they miss.
Whose pulses with new-risen life beat high?
The soothings of the Æolian lullaby,
Which now doth win man’s weariness to lie,
Lapped in its sound and be content to die.
Hearts strong in vigour of their fresh great joy
Will ask no more the leaping waves to buoy
Their moods to kindred laughter, and destroy
Through alien glee their human cares’ annoy
A little while. The eyes whereon doth break
The light of Heaven, what need have they to take
Sad pleasure in those ocean gleams that make
Dim lives worth living for their beauty’s sake?
Yet though the Blessed need no more the Sea,
Will not God leave her to the Lost? — that she,
Who could not save them from their woe, may be
Their nurse to comfort, ever tenderly
With vast and low- voiced hushabies to still
The restlessness of pain incurable.
And with a sense of vague, fair sadness fill
Their hunger for lost good adorable.
Men love her, earth’s old Sea. She loves them well.
If she may be their mother too in Hell,
Will she not rock them there with lulling swell.
In her deep constancy? Ah, who can tell?
If waters’ strength and love’s be not in vain.
Some souls who nevermore God’s grace might gain
May yet to peace of dreamless sleep attain.
Lost to all gladness, lost alike to pain.


2 thoughts on “Elizabeth Dickinson West: Irish Woman Poet

    1. I take your point. However, this series on the blog is an attempt to draw attention to Irish poets who have been neglected at least in part because they were women. It’s an act of recovery, in its own small way.


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