The Evening Star

Isabella loved her niece Grace Livingston, and she was very proud of Grace’s talent for writing.

When Grace was only twelve years old she wrote her first book, The Esselstynes. It was a story about the life changes a brother and sister experience when they are adopted by a Christian couple. Isabella was so impressed by the story, she had it printed and bound as a book, and she encouraged Grace to write more.

Grace obliged and wrote poems, as well as stories. She wrote the poem below, which Isabella published in an issue The Pansy magazine in April 1881—just in time for Grace’s 16th birthday!

Here’s how the poem appeared in the magazine:

An old black and white woodcut illustration of a tall mountain peak above which a bright star shines in the darkened sky. Below the illustration is the text of the poem.

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And here’s a transcript of the poem:

THE EVENING STAR

BY GRACE

You beautiful star,
Shining afar,
Above the depths of sin,
Unbar the door
Of the heavenly floor,
And give me one glimpse in.
Into the bright
And golden light,
In the presence of the King,
Where the angels play
Night and day,
And the choirs forever sing.
The streets of gold, 
The glories untold, 
Oh, how I long to see! 
Star, if you could, 
Bright star! if you would  
Show those glories to me!

What do you think of Grace’s poem?

When you were young, did you have a relative, teacher or friend in your life who encouraged you to develop a talent?

A Little Word Lost

In The Pansy magazine Isabella used stories, illustrations, and poems to teach young people what it meant to follow Jesus. The following poem was published in an 1893 issue of the magazine, and although it was written for children, it has meaning for adults, too!

I lost a very little word
    Only the other day;
A very naughty little word
    I had not meant to say.
If only it were really lost,
    I should not mind a bit;
I think I should deserve a prize
    For really losing it.
For if no one could ever find
    Again that little word,
So that no more from any lips
    Could it be ever heard,
I'm sure we all of us would say
    That it was something fine
With such completeness to have lost
    That naughty word of mine.
But then it wasn't really lost
    When from my lips it flew;
My little brother picked it up,
    And now he says it, too.
Mamma said that the worst would be
    I could not get it back;
But the worst of it now seems to me,
    I'm always on its track.
If it were only really lost!
    Oh, then I should be glad!
I let it fall so carelessly
    The day that I got mad.
Lose other things, you never seem
    To come upon their track;
But lose a naughty little word,
    It's always coming back.

While no author name was given when the poem was published, Isabella’s husband Ross and son Raymond were both talented poets, as was Isabella.

When she wrote stories about children losing their tempers, she wrote from experience. Isabella shared stories from her own life about how often her anger got her into trouble when she was young.

You can read about some of those instances in these previous posts:

Joy Go with You

BFFs at Oneida Seminary

Locust Shade … and a New Free Read

Love’s Garden

Isabella was an avid reader, and often read aloud to her family. She enjoyed biographies, histories, and fiction; but she particularly enjoyed reading poetry. In fact, her husband Ross and her son Raymond were both published poets.

Isabella often shared poems she enjoyed with readers of The Pansy magazine. In an 1893 issue she printed this lovely poem:

Love’s Garden

There is a quiet garden
From the rude world set apart,
Where seeds for Christ are growing;
This is the loving heart.
The tiny roots are loving thoughts,
Sweet words, the fragrant flowers
Which blossom into loving deeds—
Ripe fruit for harvest hours.
Thus in our hearts the seeds of love
Are growing, year by year;
And we show our love for the Saviour,
By loving his children here.

Author Unknown

What is Love?

Isabella Alden’s son Raymond was fifteen years old when he wrote this sweet poem. It was published in The Pansy magazine in 1888.

(Written in answer to a child who asked what love was.)

Love is—well, what can anyone say?
Love is—Why, darling, think all day
Of all the words that we can say;
And think, and think, and tell me
What love is. Ah! I knew you could not.

Well, love is Jesus; and He is love.
Love is a message, so sweet, from above.
God is love, so the good Book says,
And true love is great and high, always.

What is the best definition given?
Love is a message, a breath from Heaven.
God’s message to lost ones—our Light, our Life.
Love makes all peace where once was strife.
Oh! Let me show you what love can do.

For God so loved the world that he gave
His only begotten Son to save—
Whom do you think? Why, sinners, whom
Justice for justice’s sake would doom!

But then, you look very wise, and say,
Why, God is love, you know, anyway!
Aye, my darling, that is true.
Now let me ask you—What cannot love do?

Welcome, April!

Isabella was surrounded by writers. Her sister, niece, son, and friends all wrote stories, articles and lessons for publication.

Her husband, the Reverend Gustavus Rossenberg Alden—“Ross” for short—was no exception. In addition to writing his Sunday sermons, he wrote many short stories for The Pansy magazine, authored a memoir of stories about his boyhood while growing up in Maine, and (with his brother-in-law Charles Livingston) wrote a series of weekly Bible study lessons.

Ross was also an accomplished poet. He created lovely rhymes about a wide variety of subjects.

Here’s Ross’s poem “April” to help us welcome a new month:

APRIL

O Spring is coming now, don’t you see?
The birds will be followed by the humble bee.

The frogs are singing their evening song,
The lambs are skipping with their dams along,

The buds are out on the pussy-willow tree,
On the bough of the birch sings the chickadee.

The cows come lowing along the lane,
With suppers all ready for us again.

Old Speckle scratches for her chickens ten,
New piggies are squealing in their pen,
From the top of the tree the robin calls,
From the top of the dam the water falls,
And everything to the eye or ear,
Tells to old and young that April is here.