Carlotta Perry

Carlotta’s poems were first published in the LaCrosse Leader, but she wrote poetry much earlier than that. Her biography in American Women, second edition, in 1892 credits her with verse at the age of 8 after the death of her father. It also lists her birth date as 1848 when it was actually 1837 or 1838. This may be how in later references, she often is said to be 10 years younger than her actual age. Her work regularly started appearing in Wisconsin and other newspapers in the 1870s and beyond. It was also around this time that she began her journalist career and took a job at the Watertown Democrat newspaper.

Poetry was highly regarded in Carlotta’s time. In the 1870s and 80s, the Watertown Democrat frequently printed poetry on the front page, as did many other newspapers. Poems often considered the state of civilization and man and womankind. In the late 1800s the front page almost always carried columns about moral issues and ethical behavior. Temperance was being extolled, driven by the women’s suffrage movement which saw alcohol directly intertwined with mother and child abandonment and abuse. A review of the topics of front page poems and articles includes vicissitude, neatness, honesty, greed, truth and honor. Carlotta’s poetry ruminates on many of these philosophic questions and tackles deep personal ethical concerns as well.

The Dearer Dead

You mourn for your dead; you go,
Clad in your robes of woe,
To the spot where they sleep—
And you weep
Such bitter tears, and there
You strew flowers, fresh and fair;
You place a white stone at the head,
With the dear name of your dead.

But there are dearer dead, you know
Not the bitterest woe,
Till you close the eager eyes
Of sweet young Hope, and mournful-wise,
Cross the pallid hands of Love,
And sorrowing bend above
The ashes and dust
Of Honor and Truth and Trust,
For these are the dearer dead.

Ah? Those other dead; who dare
Robes of mourning for dead hopes wear?
Who bids a stone arise
To tell where dead love lies?
When did ever a mourner say
Help me bury these dead away?

These funeral trains men do not see;
They move silently
Down to the heart where the grave is made,
Where the dead is laid.
No flowers are strewn there,
No moan is heard there,
No ritual is said
Over their bed,
Hidden away from sight
The grave lies low,
But the solemn, silent night,
That doth know,
And it seeth ever the white
Face of our woe.

You are happy who mourn for your dead,
By the side of graves kept green
By the tears you shed;

Who can lean
Lovingly where they sleep
Pray for those who in secret weep-
The dearer dead.

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