“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.”
- Simonides of Ceos

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Florence Nightingale" by Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus was an American poet who was writing during the late 1800s. She is most known for her sonnet in honor of The Statue of Liberty, "The New Colossus". Her poem, "Florence Nightingale", was written on March 7, 1867 and was first published in 1871. There are conflicting opinions about the accuracy of this poem's portrayal of the woman known as "The Mother of Modern Nursing" and "The Lady with the Lamp", but regardless, it is a wonderful piece which honors Nightingale's contributions to the field of medicine.

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Program Credits

Announcer: Thomas Lamar
Narrator: Nicole Rodrigues
Composer: Andrew Boone
Sound Design & Mixing: Christopher Green
Image for Artwork: Henrietta Rae
Producer/Director: J.D. Sutter

Entry on Wikipedia for Emma Lazarus
Bio of Emma Lazarus on The Poetry Foundation
Entry on Wikipedia for Florence Nightingale
Full Text of "Admetus and other poems" by Emma Lazarus courtesy of The American Verse Project

Emma Lazarus circa December 1871
Image Credit: Wikipedia

"Florence Nightingale" by Emma Lazarus

UPON the whitewashed walls
A woman's shadow falls,
A woman walketh o'er the darksome floors.
A soft, angelic smile
Lighteth her face the while,
In passing through the dismal corridors.

And now and then there slips
A word from out her lips,
More sweet and grateful to those listening ears
Than the most plaintive tale
Of the sad nightingale,
Whose name and tenderness this woman bears.

Her presence in the room
Of agony and gloom,
No fretful murmurs, no coarse words profane;
For while she standeth there,
All words are hushed save prayer;
She seems God's angel weeping o'er man's pain.

And some of them arise,
With eager, tearful eyes,
From off their couch to see her passing by.
Some, e'en too weak for this,
Can only stoop and kiss
Her shadow, and fall back content to die.

No monument of stone
Needs this heroic one,—
Her name is graven on each noble heart;
And in all after years
Her praise will be the tears
Which at that name from quivering lids will start.

And those who live not now,
To see the sainted brow,
And the angelic smile before it flits for aye,
They in the future age
Will kiss the storied page
Whereon the shadow of her life will lie.