Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Preludes (1875)
VI. A Letter from a Girl to Her Own Old Age
By Alice Meynell (1847–1922)
 
        “Lete vedrai.”
DANTE.    

LISTEN, and when thy hand this paper presses,
O time-worn woman, think of her who blesses
What thy thin fingers touch, with her caresses.
 
O mother, for a weight of years do break thee!
O daughter, for slow time must yet awake thee,        5
And from the changes of my heart must make thee.
 
O fainting traveller, morn is grey in heaven.
Dost thou remember how the clouds were driven?
And are they calm about the fall of even?
 
Pause near the ending of thy long migration,        10
For this one sudden hour of desolation
Appeals to one hour of thy meditation.
 
Suffer, O silent one, that I remind thee
Of the great hills that storm the sky behind thee,
Of the wild winds of power that have resigned thee.        15
 
Know that the mournful plain where thou must wander,
Is but a grey and silent world, but ponder
The misty mountains of the morning yonder.
 
Listen; the mountain winds with rain were fretting,
And sudden gleams the mountain-tops besetting.        20
I cannot let thee fade to death, forgetting.
 
What part of this wild heart of mine I know not
Will follow with thee where the great winds blow not,
And where the young flowers of the mountain grow not.
 
Yet let my letter with thy lost thoughts in it        25
Tell what the way was when thou didst begin it,
And win with thee the goal when thou shalt win it.
 
Oh, in some hour of thine my thoughts shall guide thee.
Suddenly, though time, darkness, silence hide thee,
This wind from thy lost country flits beside thee;        30
 
Telling thee: all thy memories moved the maiden,
With thy regrets was morning over-shaden,
With sorrow thou hast left, her life was laden.
 
But whither shall my thoughts turn to pursue thee?
Life changes, and the years and days renew thee.        35
Oh, Nature brings my straying heart unto thee.
 
Her winds will join us, with their constant kisses
Upon the evening as the morning tresses,
Her summers breathe the same unchanging blisses.
 
And we, so altered in our shifting phases,        40
Track one another ’mid the many mazes
By the eternal child-breath of the daisies.
 
I have not writ this letter of divining
To make a glory of thy silent pining,
A triumph of thy mute and strange declining.        45
 
Only one youth, and the bright life was shrouded.
Only one morning, and the day was clouded.
And one old age with all regrets is crowded.
 
Oh, hush; oh, hush! Thy tears my words are steeping.
Oh, hush, hush, hush! So full, the fount of weeping?        50
Poor eyes, so quickly moved, so near to sleeping?
 
Pardon the girl; such strange desires beset her.
Poor woman, lay aside the mournful letter
That breaks thy heart; the one that wrote, forget her.
 
The one that now thy faded features guesses,        55
With filial fingers thy grey hair caresses,
With morning tears thy mournful twilight blesses.
 
 
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