Poets and Poetry: Sonnets of a Portrait-Painter

April is National Poetry Month, so it seems fitting to share  the work of a few of our local poets each week.

Arthur Davison Ficke, son of prominent businessman Charles August Ficke, was born in Davenport in 1883.  Although he studied law and worked with his father, he eventually made the decision to be a full time author and poet—a decision he never regretted.

He is best known for two things:  a poetry hoax he and his friend Harold Witter Bynner pulled on the literary world, and his lovely sonnets.  In 1914, a collection of some of his best sonnets were gathered into a single volume,  Sonnets of a Portrait-Painter.


Strange! To remember that I late was fain
To yield death back my poor undated lease,
So wearied had I at life’s gate in vain
Asked wonders, and been doled not even peace.
I had grown sceptic of the exalted will
That winds not ever nearer to its aim.
Grey seemed all lures, all calling voices still;
Rest only seems salvation . . . Then you came
And filled my dusk with stars. I understood
At last what coward languor had been mine.
And as your sweetness stung my brain and blood
Like the wild rapture of some winged wine
I stormed the gates that crusts to beggars give!
Life decks its halls for him who dares to live . . . .

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