“Across wide fields of melting snow / The winds of summer softly blow”: The Easter poems of Lucy Larcom

By Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services

On March 20th we marked the spring equinox here in New England with the arrival of our fourth nor’easter of the month. After a warmer-than-average February we found ourselves bundling up for a colder-than-average March and spring has seemed further around the corner than it ought to be. In this week that marks both the Jewish Passover and Christian Easter holidays, I decided to share a poem for spring from New England poet Lucy Larcom.

A book of Easter poems
Easter Gleams, by Lucy Larcom, 1891

Many of you have likely encountered nineteenth-century writer Lucy Larcom through her autobiographical work A New England Girlhood (1889) which tells the story of her childhood in Beverly, Massachusetts and her experience working in the mills of Lowell before she traveled west to Illinois to become a teacher and later returned to Massachusetts to make her living as a writer and editor. In 1891, Larcom published a small collection of Easter poems, Easter Gleams with Riverside Press an imprint of Houghton, Mifflin & Company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Riverside had also published Larcom’s Girlhood three years before. Below are the poems “Ring! Happy Bells!” (5) poem “Sunrise” (13) from Easter Gleams.

Ring! Happy Bells!

Ring, happy bells of Easter time!

The world is glad to hear your chime;

Across wide field of melting snow

The winds of summer softly blow,

And birds and streams repeat the chime

Of Easter time.

Ring, happy bells of Easter time!

The world takes up your chant sublime,

The Lord has risen!” The night of fear

Has passed away, and heaven draws near:

We breathe the air of that blest clime,

At Easter time.

Ring, happy bells of Easter time!

Our happy hearts give back your chime!

The Lord has risen! We die no more:

He opens wide the heavenly door;

He meets us, while to Him we climb,

At Easter time.



The Sunrise over the houses!

The beautiful rose of dawn

Reddening the eastern windows, —

The curtains of Night withdrawn!

More lovely than boughs in blossom

The spires and the roof-trees glow.

It is day; and, in God awaking,

Shall the spirit unfold and grow.

On the city, in chrismal splendor,

The blessing of morning falls: —

The Bride coming down out of heaven! —

The pearl-gates, the jasper walls!

The white light enters the casement

Like the wings of the Holy Dove;

And every house is a flower,

A blossom of peace and love.

The sunrise is fair on the gardens,

The groves and the forests afar;

But fairer the trees of manhood,

Of heavenly planting are.

And wide are the green savannahs

That under the dawn unroll;

But broader the landscape opens

In the sunrise of a soul!

The footsteps of morning hasten

Across yonder populous space,

And the dwellings of men are illumined

With the glory of God’s own face.

Who can guess the power of His coming?

He will banish doubt and despair;

The life of His Spirit will kindle

And stir the sleepers there.

Behold the Day Star ascending!

See the hour of His triumph begin!

The sunrise over the houses!

The Christ-light shining in!

In addition to holding a print copy of Easter Gleams and other published works by Larcom, the Massachusetts Historical Society holds Larcom’s diaries, correspondence, and other manuscript materials, principally in the Daniel Dulany Addison collection. We also hold issues of Our Young Folks (1865-1873) and the Lowell Offering (1840-1845), both of which Larcom was deeply involved in as a writer and editor. Researchers interested in accessing Larcom’s writings may visit the library or contact the reader services staff to learn about options for reproduction.