Frances Elizabeth (Chase) Swift was born in Vermont but removed to Falmouth, Massachusetts some time before publishing her first volume of poetry, Voices of the Heart (1853). She often published under the pseudonym of "Fanny Fales."


They hang in gauzy cloudlets
Above my lifted eyes,
Like brackets in the corner
And, ever a surprise:
With fringe, festoon, and border,
Ah! 'tis a magic loom
That, in the night, has woven
Such lace-work in my room!

They haunt the warmest corners,
To shady cuddies cling,
And, little silken tendrils
This way and that they fling:
The day-god, the revealer,
Their hidings have betrayed:
They quiver if he touches,
I wonder if afraid?

I know a tidy housewife
Should on them only frown;
When naughty things are pretty
'Tis hard to sweep them down!
Were it as easy brushing
The webs from heart and brain;
That gather and disfigure,
That come, and come again.

Aye, ruts of foolish fancies,
That cannot bear the light:
The little frets and foibles,
Far better out of sight.
But silently they gather
Before our blinded eyes,
A fit word timely spoken
Like sunlight on them lies.

How many ills were cobwebs
Would we let in the sun;
How many fears would vanish
Were nothing left undone.
Brush lightly down, O Angels!
The webs from heart and brain;
I know an hour is coming,
They'll gather not again.


The woodbine, kindled by Autumnal fires
Climbs the lithe birch and twines the boughs o'erhead
Until with scarlet flames the tree is spread,
Like India's funeral pyres;
And all a-tremble the pale birch leaves fall,
Drifting an amber wall;
While, creeping o'er, the red fires upward push
As once in Horeb stood the burning bush.

Yellow Lilies

Yellow lilies standing tall and regal,
Adown the garden old;
In beauty of the morn, and robed in garments
All spun of finest gold.

Your lifted, golden censors filled with incense,
Perfuming all the air;
As if some honied petals downward drifted,
But known to Aiden fair.

Who spun your garments, O ye yellow lilies?
And filled your cups with dew?
Not Solomon was clad with half the splendor
That is bestowed on you.

From vaulted temple of the King of Glory,
Whose brightness floods the gloom,
Streams rays of light through white mists of the morning,
And yellow lilies bloom.


Here they come, peeping
Out of the ground,
Golden and purple heads
Up from their cosy beds,
Looking around.

O it is Spring-time,
Down on the mould!
Rise little sunny heads,
Up from your grassy beds
Rise, and unfold.


Read, Thomas Buchanan, ed. The Female Poets of America. 6th edition. Philadelphia: E. H. Butler & Co., 1855.

Swift, Frances Elizabeth. Heart Songs and On the Wing. 1899.

Swift, Frances Elizabeth (pseud. Fanny Fales). Voices of the Heart. Boston: B. B. Mussey & Co., 1853.