Thursday, October 15, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Poetry of Love


I actually have a fair amount of treasures in my genealogical collection, but I thought I’d start with the love letters/poems that Vanny (Virginia Vandalia McCroskey) sent to my great-grandfather Alexander Judd Doran.  Only one is still in its envelope, and the postmark is torn, but it appears to have been sent in either JAN or JUN of 1920.

Alexander had written “by Vannie McCroskey” across the back of each one, so I thought she had actually written them. As part of writing this article, I did a quick Google search of the first lines, expecting to get no results. Boy, was I wrong! Apparently Vannie was sending lyrics and poems that were popular in the early 1900’s. The endnotes citing the source and author are mine.

This packet was in the envelope:

In The Gloaming1

In the Gloaming O my darling
When the lights are dim and low
And the quiet shadows falling
Softly come and, softly go;
When the winds are sobbing faintly
With a gentle unknown woe,
Will you think of me and love me
As you did once long ago?

In the Gloaming O my darling
Think not bitterly of me,
Tho’ I passed away in silence,
Left you lonely, Set you free.
For my heart was crushed with longing
What had been could never be,
It was best to leave you thus dear,
Best for you and best for me.

It was best to leave you thus dear
Best for you and best for me. 

I hold your trembling hand to-night and yet2
I may not now what wealth of bliss is mine,
My heart is such a curious design
Of trust and jealousy! Your eyes are wet –
So must I think they jeweled some regret, --
And lo, the loving arms that round me twine,
Cling only as the tendrils of a vine
Whose fruit has long been gathered: I forget,
While crimson clusters of your kisses press
Their wine out on my lips, my royal fare
Of rapture, since blind fancy needs must guess
They once poured out their sweetness otherwhere.
With fuller flavoring of happiness
Than e’en your broen sobs may now declare

Pity me not, twill make me pitiable3
Grieve not for me, twill set me grieving too.
But write to me hopeful,
In words pure, strong and true.

Sincerely yours with all the richest blessings heaven has in store for you,

XXXXX tenthousand times tenthousand

P.S. you did not say where to send your letters, you seem to stay near Walters, but I see you still head your letters Devol so there they go. If you want them sent else where say so.

This was the second batch:

Last Night When All Was Still4

Last night the night-in-gale woke me!
Last night when all was still!
It sang in the golden moon-light,
From out the woodland hill.
I opened my window so gently,
I looked on the dreaming dew,
And Oh! the bird my darling
Was sing-ing, sing-ing of you, of you!

I think of you in the daytime,
I dream of you by night,
I wake and would you were here, love,
And tears are blinding my sight.
I hear a low breath in the lime tree,
The wind is floating through;
And Oh! the night my darling
Is sigh-ing sigh-ing for you, for you!

Oh, think not I can forget you:
I could not tho’ I would;
I see you in all around me,
The stream, the night, the wood,
The flowers that slumber so gently,
The stars above the blue;
Oh! Heaven it-self my darling,
Is pray-ing pray-ing for you, for you!

O Heart of mine we shouldn’t5
          Worry so!
What we’ve missed of calm we couldn’t
          Have you know!
What we’ve met of stormy pain,
And of sorrows driving rain,
We can better meet again,
          If it blow!

We have erred in that dark hour
          We have known
When our tears fell with the shower,
          All alone!
Were not shine and shower blent
As the gracious Master meant?
Let us temper our content
          With his own.

For we now, -not every morrow
          Can be said;
So, forgetting all the sorrow
          We have had,
Let us fold away our fears
And put by our foolish tears
And through all the coming years
          Just be glad.

1In the Gloaming by Annie Fortescue Harrison & Meta Orred in 1877
2Dearth by James Whitcomb Riley
3These first two lines are from Pity Me Not. by Ethelwyn Wetherald, the rest seem to be by Vannie
4Last Night When All Was Still by Halfdan Kerulf
5Kissing the Rod by James Whitcomb Riley


  1. LOVE these....the language and use of letters to express ones self back then was so incredible. It is truly a lost art.

  2. I agree... the written letter can be an art form. It was thought out and demanded your full attention unlike most emails and text messages today.