Born: October 9, 1832, Strong, Maine.
Died: August 7, 1911, Tuckahoe, New York.
Cremated: Location of her ashes is unknown. A memorial to her was erected in the Westfield Cemetery, Danielson, Connecticut.
Allen married twice, to sculptor Paul Akers (died 1861), and E. M. Allen (married 1866).
Her mother died when she was an infant, and her father moved the family to Farmington, Maine. Elizabeth grew up in Farmington, where she attended Farmington Academy.
A well known poet, she is remembered for her poem Rock Me to Sleep, Mother, written in 1859. It was published in the Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1860, and was very popular during the American civil war.
Allen had a varied career, including a stint at the War Department in Washington, DC. By happenstance, she was in Ford’s Theater in Washington the night American president Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
You who dread the cares and labors
Of the tenant’s annual quest,
You who long for peace and rest,
And the quietest of neighbors,
You may find them, if you will,
In the city on the hill.
One indulgent landlord leases
All the pleasant dwellings there;
He has tenants everywhere—
Every day the throng increases;
None may tell their number, yet
He has mansions still to let.
Never presses he for payment;
Gentlest of all landlords he;
And his numerous tenantry
Never lack for food or raiment.
Sculptured portal, grassy roof,
All alike are trouble-proof.
Of the quiet town’s frequenters,
Never one is ill at ease;
There are neither locks nor keys,
Yet no robber breaks or enters;
Not a dweller bolts his door,
Fearing for his treasure-store.
Never sound of strife or clamor
Troubles those who dwell therein;
Never toil’s distracting din,
Stroke of axe, nor blow of hammer;
Crimson clover sheds its sweets
Even in the widest streets.
Never tenant old or younger
Suffers illness or decline;
There no suffering children pine;
There comes never want nor hunger;
Woe and need no longer reign;
Poverty forgets its pain.
Turmoil and unrest and hurry
Stay forevermore outside;
By the hearts which there abide
Wrong, privation, doubt, and worry
Are forgotten quite, or seem
Only like a long-past dream.
Never slander nor detraction
Enters there, and never heard
Is a sharp or cruel word;
No unworthy thought or action,
Purpose or intent of ill
Knows the city on the hill.
There your mansion never waxes
Out of date, nor needs repairs;
There intrude no sordid cares;
There are neither rent nor taxes;
And no vexed and burdened brain
Reckons either loss or gain.
Wanderers, tired with long endeavor,
You whom, since your being’s dawn,
With the stern command
Ruthless Fate has tracked forever,
Here at last your footsteps stay
With no dread of moving-day!
Elizabeth Akers Allen
The High-Top Sweeting, 1891