Mathilde Blind (born Mathilda Cohen; 21 March 1841 in Mannheim, Germany – 26 November 1896, in London), was a German-born English poet, fiction writer, biographer, essayist and literary critic. In the early 1870s she emerged as a pioneering female aesthete in a mostly male community of artists and writers, and by the late 1880s she had become a prominent voice and leader among New Woman writers, including Vernon Lee (Violet Paget), Amy Levy, Mona Caird, Olive Schreiner, Rosamund Marriott Watson, and Katharine Tynan. Her work was praised by Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Michael Rossetti, Amy Levy, Edith Nesbit, Arthur Symons and Arnold Bennett. Her widely discussed poem The Ascent of Man represents a distinctly feminist response to the Darwinian theory of evolution.
- I've watched thee, Scarab! Yea, an hour in vain
I've watched thee, slowly toiling up the hill,
Pushing thy lump of mud before thee still
With patience infinite and stubborn strain.
Strive as thou mayest, spare neither time nor pain.
To screen thy burden from all chance of ill;
Push, push, with all a beetle's force of will,
Thy ball, alas! rolls ever down again.
Toil without end! And why? That after thee
Dim hosts of groping Scarabs too shall climb
This self-same height? Accursed progeny
Of Sisyphus, what antenatal crime
Has doomed us too to roll incessantly
Life's Stone, recoiling from the Alps of time?
- Poetical works of Mathilde Blind, p. 405
The Sleeping Beauty
- There was intoxication in the air;
The wind, keen blowing from across the seas,
O'er leagues of new-ploughed land and heathery leas,
Smelt of wild gorse whose gold flamed everywhere.
And undertone of song pulsed far and near,
The soaring larks filled heaven with ecstasies,
And, like a living clock among the trees,
The shouting cuckoo struck the time of year.
For now the Sun had found the earth once more,
And woke the Sleeping Beauty with a kiss;
Who thrilled with light of love in every pore,
Opened her flower-blue eyes, and looked in his.
Then all things felt life fluttering at their core—
The world shook mystical in lambent bliss.
- 1893, from Songs and Sonnets, quoted in Poetical works of Mathilde Blind
- Poetical works of Mathilde Blind, edited by Arthur Symons Selections, 1900