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Annual Volume 42 (2012)


The Collected Poems of
Marion Bernstein

Edited by Edward H. Cohen, Anne R. Fertig and Linda Fleming

Published in: Hardback, 324 pages
By: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, Glasgow, June 2013
Price: £12.50
ISBN 978-1-906841-13-3

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“Marion Bernstein has a good claim to being the greatest Scottish feminist we’ve never heard of ... Her voice – neglected for so long – is just the kind we need to hear as we consider the writers who invented Scotland, and the hopes we have for our country in the future.”
Scottish Review of Books

Although her reputation now rests on her poems on women’s rights, the Glasgow poet Marion Bernstein (1846–1906) recognised little distinction between gender equality and social equality. She valued her fellow poets, many of whom were from the working classes, and she populated her poems with an array of ordinary citizens: postmen, riveters, fishermen, street musicians, even a victim of intemperance. In her enlightened poem ‘Human Rights’ she advocated universal equality and gave her vision of a world run by women:

We’d give fair play, let come what might,
To he or she folk, black or white,
And haste the reign of Human Right.
A Song of Glasgow Town contains all of Bernstein’s 198 published poems, along with a detailed introduction to her life and work, and extensive notes explaining the background to each poem. These verses provide a fascinating insight into Glasgow in the late Victorian age, at a time of unprecedented social and economic change.

Edward H. Cohen is the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English at Rollins College.

Anne R. Fertig was a Colling-Clint scholar at Rollins College and is currently a Fulbright scholar at the University of Glasgow.

Linda Fleming received her PhD in Modern History from the University of Glasgow and is a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

A Note on the Text

Poems published 28 February 1874 to 8 April 1876 and collected in Mirren’s Musings
1. On Hearing ‘Auld Lang Syne’
2. Wanted in Glasgow.
3. ‘The Wetched Sex’
4. Cremation.
5. The Sulky Man
6. To the Editor of the ‘Weekly Mail’
7. Fashions and Follies
8. Squaring the Circle
9. Love and Death and the ‘Weekly Mail’
10. A Romance of the Morgue
11. To an Atheist
12. The Donkeys’ Duel
13. Reply to J. B. M. [‘Oh! J. B. M., you must be stupid’]
14. To D’Odeurs
15. The River of Time
16. Manly Sports
17. A Rule to Work Both Ways
18. Quite Bewildered
19. Changes
20. Reply to J. B. M. [‘Dear J. B. M., I was but joking’]
21. The Thunderstorm
22. A Song for the Working Man
23. A Song of Glasgow Town
24. Oh, Scenes of Beauty!
25. The Danger of Delay
26. Sigh Not for Yesterday
27. Wanted A Husband
28. On the Closing Year
29. On New Year’s Day
30. The Hero of the Clyde
31. To Amatory Poets
32. The Best Kind of Wife
33. An Able Advocate
34. The Well of Truth
35. ‘Ending in Smoke!’
36. Thoughts.
37. Courtship on Valentine’s Morning.
38. Come Again, Come Again, Beautiful Spring
39. A Question
40. Woman’s Rights and Wrongs
41. Rules for House-Hunting
42. ‘Move On!’
43. Reflections
44. Look Forward and Look Upward.
45. A Doubtful Story
46. Come Back to Me, Ye Happy Dreams
47. Married and ‘Settled’
48. The Heather and the Broom
49. On Receiving the First Flowers of the Garden from a Friend in London
50. I Really Don’t Know What to Say
51. A Slight Inconsistency
52. In These Steam-Engine Days
53. A Dream
54. The Music of the Streets
55. Song [‘Oh, bring me a bunch of flowers to-day’]
56. Gas on the Stair
57. The Giant-Killer
58. Advice to Anxiety
59. Sonnet [‘Fade not! oh, autumn flowers!’]
60. Musical Reflections
61. Oh, Caledonia! Thou Art Fair
62. Oh, I Wish I Were a Swallow!
63. Blame Not the Broken-Hearted
64. Servants of God, Awake!
65. An Appeal
66. Sonnet, On Receiving a Bouquet
67. A Reply to ‘Twenty-Eight’
68. Hope
69. Too Soon Forgotten
70. Far Out at Sea
71. Soaring Upwards to the Light
72. Musings
73. Fame
74. The Fugitive Slave
75. Sonnet [‘Life’s sunny summer time’]
Poems published 25 April 1874 to 6 May 1876 but not collected in Mirren’s Musings
76. ‘Oh! I Wish That All Women Had Power to Vote’
77. ‘I Am Very Glad that I Can Say’
78. What the Pope Said
79. What Somebody Said
80. My Book
81. An Awful Mistake
82. My Own Dear Native Home
83. ‘He Promised that Either By Hook or By Crook’
84. Come Back, Sweet Muse
Poems collected in Mirren’s Musings, June 1876, but not previously published
85. Robin Donn’s Lament
86. A Woman’s Logic
87. The Great Passover
88. Epigram [‘Love’s a first-rate theme for rhyming’]
89. To the Editor
90. A Meditation [‘Again I see the radiant skies’]
91. Cremating a Mother-in-Law
92. Epigram [‘If a man has more malice than wit’]
93. Oh Stay, Sweet Summer, Stay
94. First Paraphrase
95. Teach Me How to Keep Thy Way
96. Friday Evening Hymn
97. At Sabbath Sunset
98. To Annie on Her Birthday
99. The Three Guides
100. On Toothache
101. Mother, Weep Not For Thy Child
102. Sabbath Eve
103. Sonnet, To the Stars
104. A Sleepless Night
105. The Seventh Day
106. The Sabbath of the Lord
107. A Song of Summer
108. Human Rights
109. Reply to the Foregoing
110. The Swallow
Poems published 8 July 1876 to 6 January 1906, subsequent to the printing of Mirren’s Musings
111. Just Heaven, Defend Us
112. A Leap-Year Romance
113. The Sun Shines on For Ever
114. Onward Yet! Upward Yet!
115. Nature’s Aristocracy.
116. Our Cat Can Say ‘Im-ph-m’
117. On the Death of ‘Rhyming Willie’
118. Capricious May.
119. Justice, Mercy, and Truth
120. Welcome to May
121. Birthday Musings
122. The Govan Riveters’ Strike
123. Marion’s Reply to M. M’M
124. Light the Furnace Again
125. Heartsease
126. Rest
127. Sonnet: On the Prediction of Extraordinary Darkness &c.
128. A Rainy Day Flitting
129. The Victim of Intemperance
130. Home Music
131. New Year’s Musings
132. Mirren’s Autobiography.
133. Leap Year Valentines
134. The Resurrection of the Flowers.
135. An Evening Song
136. Toiling Upwards
137. Happy Dreaming
138. To the Great Inventor
139. Song [‘In the morning sunlight’]
140. The Scottish Emigrant
141. The East Coast Fishermen
142. The Flower Sermon
143. Beatitudes
144. The Pointsman
145. The Light-Glint on Loch Lomond.
146. A Woman’s Plea
147. Robert Burns [‘While others will tell of thy triumphs’]
148. Shipwrecked
149. Far Away in the West
150. The Star of Bethlehem
151. The Highland Laird’s Song
152. Nearer to Thee
153. The Christmas Party
154. New-Year Thoughts
155. The Death of Douglas
156. A Dream of Rest
157. On the Franchise Demonstration of the 6th Inst.
158. A Birthday Meditation
159. Answer to M. A. Smith
160. Sonnet To Mary Cross
161. Coffining the Pauper
162. A Shower of Falling Stars
163. Patience
164. The Scottish Marseillaise
165. Wanted
166. Acrostic Sonnet – Elizabeth Mouat.
167. On the Death of a Favourite Pet that Had Every Virtue and No Fault
168. Nothing New.
169. Robert Burns [‘Oft it moves my indignation’]
170. A Summer Day
171. The Name of the Lord.
172. Forward March!
173. Vanity Fair
174. The Beautiful Spring
175. A Wish
176. Apotheosis
177. To a Captive Bird
178. Treasures Gratis
179. Poor Pussy’s Song
180. A Vision of the Cross
181. Have Patience
182. Ye Happy Birds
183. Peace at the Last
184. The Passing Years
185. Lines on the Death of Dr W. T. M’Auslane
186. ‘In the Old Likeness’
187. The Horrors ofWar
188. Blue
189. The Dark Before the Dawn
190. A Fable
191. Half-Way Down the Shadowy Valley
192. Willie Brewed a Peck o’ Maut
193. To King Edward on His Coronation
194. St Vincent Loch
195. ‘Je Pense a Toi’
196. Song of a ‘Shut In’
197. Sonnet: The Rainbow
198. A Meditation [‘Year after year is passing by’]
Notes on Individual Poems
Selected Bibliography

Cover image: “Autumn”, by Bessie MacNicol (1869–1904)
Courtesy Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections.
Cover design: Mark Blackadder.

Last updated 28 November 2013.