Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday Poetry: "The Peddler," by Charlotte Mew

Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) is one of those interesting late Victorian poetesses whose life was torn between her family's attempt to keep a genteel front and the reality of financial hardship. She's an interesting figure who during her own time was seen as a pitiable, pathetic figure, but the rhythm of her lines--as well as her willingness to use long lines and break with traditional forms--adds a radical element to her poetry that has not until relatively recently been recognized.

So look her up, have a read, and enjoy the poem.

"The Peddler," by Charlotte Mew

Lend me a while the key
That locks your heavy heart, and I'll give you back--
Rarer than books and ribbons and beads bright to see
This Key of Dreams out of my pack.

The road, the road, beyond men's bolted doors,
There shall I walk and you go free of me,
For yours lies North across the moors,
And mine South. To what seas?

How if we stopped and let our solemn selves go by,
While my gay ghost caught and kissed yours, as ghosts don't do,
And by the wayside, this forgotten you and I
Sat, and were twenty-two?

Give me the key that locks your tired eyes,
And I will lend you this one from my pack,
Brighter than coloured beads and painted books that make men wise:
Take it. No, give it back!


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