Charlotte Mew
Anthology


Absence


Fin de Fête


From a Window


In The Fields


I So Liked Spring


Ken


Madeleine in Church


Monsieur Qui Passe


Moorland Night


My Heart is Lame


On the Road to the Sea


Pêcheresse


Sea Love


Song


The Changeling


The Farmer's Bride


The Fête


The Forest Road


The Peddler


The Road to Kerity


The Sunlit House


The Voice


A Quoi Bon Dire


Bi(bli)ography




Absence
Sometimes I know the way You walk, up over the bay; It is a wind from that far sea That blows the fragrance of your hair to me. Or in this garden when the breeze Touches my trees To stir their dreaming shadows on the grass I see you pass. In sheltered beds, the heart of every rose Serenely sleeps to-night. As shut as those Your garded heart; as safe as they fomr the beat, beat Of hooves that tread dropped roses in the street. Turn never again On these eyes blind with a wild rain Your eyes; they were stars to me.-- There are things stars may not see. But call, call, and though Christ stands Still with scarred hands Over my mouth, I must answer. So I will come--He shall let me go!


Fin de Fête

Sweetheart, for such a day One mustn't grudge the score; Here, then, it's all to pay, It's Good-night at the door. Good-night and good dreams to you,- Do you remember the picture-book thieves Who left two children sleeping in a wood the long night through, And how the birds came down and covered them with leaves? So you and I should have slept, -But now, Oh, what a lonely head! With just the shadow of a waving bough In the moonlight over your bed.


From a Window

Up here, with June, the sycamore throws Across the window a whispering screen; I shall miss the sycamore more I suppose, Than anything else on this earth that is out in green. But I mean to go through the door without fear, Not caring much what happens here When I’m away: -- How green the screen is across the panes Or who goes laughing along the lanes With my old lover all the summer day.

In The Fields

Lord when I look at lovely things which pass, Under old trees the shadow of young leaves Dancing to please the wind along the grass, Or the gold stillness of the August sun on the August sheaves; Can I believe there is a heavenlier world than this? And if there is Will the heart of any everlasting thing Bring me these dreams that take my breath away? They come at evening with the home-flying rooks and the scent of hay, Over the fields. They come in spring.


I So Liked Spring

I so liked Spring last year Because you were here;- The thrushes too- Because it was these you so liked to hear- I so liked you. This year's a different thing,- I'll not think of you. But I'll like the Spring because it is simply spring As the thrushes do.


Ken

The town is old and very steep, A place of bells and cloisters and grey towers, And black clad people walking in their sleep - A nun, a priest, a woman taking flowers To her new grave; and watched from end to end By the great Church above, through the still hours: But in the morning and the early dark The children wake to dart from doors and call Down the wide, crooked street, where, at the bend, Before it climbs up to the park, Ken's is the gabled house facing the Castle wall. When first I came upon him there Suddenly, on the half-lit stair, I think I hardly found a trace Of likeness to a human face In his. And I said then If in His image God made men, Some other must have made poor Ken - But for his eyes which looked at you As two red, wounded stars might do. He scarcely spoke, you scarcely heard, His voice broke off in little jars To tears sometimes. An uncouth bird He seemed as he ploughed up the street, Groping, with knarred, high-lifted feet And arms thrust out as if to beat Always against a threat of bars. And oftener than not there'd be A child just higher than his knee Trotting beside him. Through his dim Long twilight this, at least, shone clear, That all the children and the deer, Whom every day he went to see Out in the park, belonged to him. "God help the folk that next him sits He fidgets so, with his poor wits." The neighbours said on Sunday nights When he would go to Church to "see the lights!" Although for these he used to fix His eyes upon a crucifix In a dark corner, staring on Till everybody else had gone. And sometimes, in his evil fits, You could not move him from his chair - You did not look at him as he sat there, Biting his rosary to bits. While pointing to the Christ he tried to say "Take it away." Nothing was dead: He said "a bird" if he picked up a broken wing, A perished leaf or any such thing Was just "a rose"; and once when I had said He must not stand and knock there any more, He left a twig on the mat outside my door. Not long ago The last thrush stiffened in the snow, While black against a sullen sky The sighing pines stood by. But now the wind has left our rattled pane To flutter the hedge-sparrow's wing, The birches in the wood are red again And only yesterday The larks went up a little way to sing What lovers say Who loiter in the lanes to-day; The buds begin to talk of May With learned rooks on city trees, And if God please With all of these We too, shall see another Spring. But in that red brick barn upon the hill I wonder - can one own the deer, And does one walk with children still As one did here - Do roses grow Beneath those twenty windows in a row - And if some night When you have not seen any light They cannot move you from your chair What happens there? I do not know. So, when they took Ken to that place, I did not look After he called and turned on me His eyes. These I shall see -
Mew's brother Ken was an amiable idiot, whereas both her brother Henry and her sister Freda were victims of what was then called dementia praecox (schizophrenia).

Madeleine in Church  (Extracts)

Here, in the darkness, where this plaster saint Stands nearer than God stands to our distress. And one small candle shines, but not so faint As the far lights of everlastingness I'd rather kneel than over there, in open day Where Christ is hanging, rather pray To something more like my own clay, Not too divine ; For, once, perhaps my little saint Before he got his niche and crown,

Had one short stroll about the town ; It brings him closer, just that taint And anyone can wash the paint Off our poor faces, his and mine ! ...
Oh ! quiet Christ who never knew The poisonous fangs that bite us through And make us do the things we do. See how we suffer and fight and die, How helpless and how low we lie, God holds You, and You hang so high, Though no one looking long at You, Can think You do not suffer too, But, up there, from your still, star-lighted tree What can You know, what can You really see Of this dark ditch, the soul of me ! ...
The jessamine music on the thin night air. Or, sometimes, my own hands about me anywhere — The sight of my own face (for it was lovely then) even the scent of my own hair, Oh ! there was nothing, nothing that did not sweep to the high seat Of laughing gods, and then blow down and beat My soul into the highway dust, as hoofs do the dropped roses of the street.

I think my body was my soul, And when we are made thus Who shall control Our hands, our eyes, the wandering passion of our feet. Who shall teach us

To thrust the world out of our heart; to say, till perhaps in death, When the race is run. ...
But I shall not be in them.

Let Him take

The finer ones, the easier to break. And they are not gone, yet, for me, the lights, the colours, the perfumes, Though now they speak rather in sumptuous rooms. In silks and in gemlike wines; Here, even, in this corner where my little candle shines

And overhead the lancet-window glows

With golds and crimsons you could almost drink

To know how jewels taste, just as I used to think There was the scent in every red and yellow rose Of all the sunsets.

But this place is grey, And much too quiet. No one here. Why, this is awful, this is fear ! ...
How old was Mary out of whom you cast So many devils? Was she young or perhaps for years She had sat staring, with dry eyes, at this and that man going past

Till suddenly she saw You on the steps of Simon's house And stood and looked at You through tears.

I think she must have known by those The thing, for what it was that had come to her. For some of us there is a passion, I suppose So far from earthly cares and earthly fears That in its stillness you can hardly stir

Or in its nearness, lift your hand.

So great that you have simply got to stand Looking at it through tears, through tears

Then straight from these there broke the kiss, I think You must have known by this The thing, for what it was, that had come to You: She did not love You like the rest.

It was in her own way, but at the worst, the best, She gave you something altogether new. And through it all, from her, no word, She scarcely saw You, scarcely heard:

Surely You knew when she so touched You with her hair. Or by the wet cheek lying there, And while her perfume clung to You from head to feet all through the day That You can change the things for which we care.

But even You, unless You kill us, not the way. ...
So Mary chose the dream of Him for what was left to her of night and day, It is the only truth: it is the dream in us that neither life nor death nor any other thing can take away: But if she had not touched Him in the doorway of the dream could she have cared so much ? She was a sinner, we are what we are: the spirit afterwards, but first, the touch. ...
I cannot bear to look at this divinely bent and gracious head: When I was small I never quite believed that He was dead:

And at the Convent school I used to lie awake in bed Thinking about His hands. It did not matter what they said, He was alive to me, so hurt, so hurt ! And most of all in Holy Week

When there was no one else to see I used to think it would not hurt me too, so terribly. If He had ever seemed to notice me Or, if, for once, He would only speak.

Full version
Monsieur Qui Passe

A purple blot against the dead white door In my friend's rooms, bathed in their vile pink light, I had not noticed her before She snatched my eyes and threw them back to me: She did not speak till we came out into the night, Paused at this bench beside the kiosk on the quay. God knows precisely what she said-- I left to her the twisted skein, Though here and there I caught a thread,-- Something, at first, about "the lamps along the Seine, And Paris, with that witching card of Spring Kept up her sleeve,--why you could see The trick done on these freezing winter nights! While half the kisses of the Quay-- Youth, hope,-the whole enchanted string Of dreams hung on the Seine's long line of lights." Then suddenly she stripped, the very skin Came off her soul,-a mere girl clings Longer to some last rag, however thin, When she has shown you-well-all sorts of things: "If it were daylight-oh! one keeps one's head-- But fourteen years!--No one has ever guessed-- The whole thing starts when one gets to bed-- Death?-If the dead would tell us they had rest! But your eyes held it as I stood there by the door-- One speaks to Christ-one tries to catch His garment's hem-- One hardly says as much to Him--no more: It was not you, it was your eyes--I spoke to them." She stopped like a shot bird that flutters still, And drops, and tries to run again, and swerves. The tale should end in some walled house upon a hill. My eyes, at least, won't play such havoc there,-- Or hers--But she had hair!--blood dipped in gold; And there she left me throwing back the first odd stare. Some sort of beauty once, but turning yellow, getting old. Pouah! These women and their nerves! God! but the night is cold!


Moorland Night

My face is against the grass - the moorland grass is wet - My eyes are shut against the grass, against my lips there are the little blades, Over my head the curlews call, And now there is the night wind in my hair; My heart is against the grass and the sweet earth, - it has gone still, at last; It does not want to beat any more, And why should it beat? This is the end of the journey. The Thing is found. This is the end of all the roads - Over the grass there is the night-dew And the wind that drives up from the sea along the moorland road, I hear a curlew start out from the heath And fly off calling through the dusk, The wild, long, rippling call -: The Thing is found and I am quiet with the earth; Perhaps the earth will hold it or the wind, or that bird's cry, But it is not for long in any life I know. This cannot stay, Not now, not yet, not in a dying world, with me, for very long; I leave it here: And one day the wet grass may give it back - One day the quiet earth may give it back - The calling birds may give it back as they go by - To someone walking on the moor who starves for love and will not know Who gave it to all these to give away; Or, if I come and ask for it again Oh! then, to me.


My Heart is Lame

My heart is lame with running after yours so fast Such a long way, Shall we walk slowly home, looking at all the things we passed Perhaps to-day? Home down the quiet evening roads under the quiet skies, Not saying much, You for a moment giving me your eyes When you could bear my touch. But not to-morrow. This has taken all my breath; Then, though you look the same, There may be something lovelier in Love's face in death As your heart sees it, running back the way we came; My heart is lame.


On the Road to the Sea

We passed each other, turned and stopped for half an hour, then went our way, I who make other women smile did not make you-- But no man can move mountains in a day. So this hard thing is yet to do. But first I want your life:--before I die I want to see The world that lies behind the strangeness of your eyes, There is nothing gay or green there for my gathering, it may be, Yet on brown fields there lies A haunting purple bloom: is there not something in grey skies And in grey sea? I want what world there is behind your eyes, I want your life and you will not give it me. Now, if I look, I see you walking down the years, Young, and through August fields--a face, a thought, a swinging dream perched on a stile--; I would have liked (so vile we are!) to have taught you tears But most to have made you smile. To-day is not enough or yesterday: God sees it all-- Your length on sunny lawns, the wakeful rainy nights--; tell me--; (how vain to ask), but it is not a question--just a call--; Show me then, only your notched inches climbing up the garden wall, I like you best when you are small. Is this a stupid thing to say Not having spent with you one day? No matter; I shall never touch your hair Or hear the little tick behind your breast, Still it is there, And as a flying bird Brushes the branches where it may not rest I have brushed your hand and heard The child in you: I like that best So small, so dark, so sweet; and were you also then too grave and wise? Always I think. Then put your far off little hand in mine;-- Oh! let it rest; I will not stare into the early world beyond the opening eyes, Or vex or scare what I love best. But I want your life before mine bleeds away-- Here--not in heavenly hereafters--soon,-- I want your smile this very afternoon, (The last of all my vices, pleasant people used to say, I wanted and I sometimes got--the Moon!) You know, at dusk, the last bird's cry, And round the house the flap of the bat's low flight, Trees that go black against the sky And then--how soon the night! No shadow of you on any bright road again, And at the darkening end of this--what voice? whose kiss? As if you'd say! It is not I who have walked with you, it will not be I who take away Peace, peace, my little handful of the gleaner's grain From your reaped fields at the shut of day. Peace! Would you not rather die Reeling,--with all the cannons at your ear? So, at least, would I, And I may not be here To-night, to-morrow morning or next year. Still I will let you keep your life a little while, See dear? I have made you smile.



Pêcheresse

Down the long quay the slow boats glide, While here and there a house looms white Against the gloom of the waterside, And some high window throws a light As they sail out into the night. At dawn they will bring in again To women knitting on the quay Who wait for him, their man of men; I stand with them, and watch the sea Which may have taken mine from me. Just so the long days come and go. The nights, ma Doué! the nights are cold! Our Lady's heart is as frozen snow, Since this one sin I have not told; And I shall die or perhaps grow old Before he comes. The foreign ships Bring many a one of face and name As strange as his, to buy your lips, A gold piece for a scarlet shame Like mine. But mine was not the same. One night was ours, one short grey day Of sudden sin, unshrived, untold. He found me, and I lost the way To Paradise for him. I sold My soul for love and not for gold He bought my soul, but even so, My face is all that he has seen, His is the only face I know, And in the dark church, like a screen. It shuts God out; it comes between; While in some narrow foreign street Or loitering on the crowded quay, Who knows what others he may meet To turn his eyes away from me? Many are fair to such as he! There is but one for such as I To love, to hate, to hunger for; I shall, perhaps, grow old and die, With one short day to spend and store, One night, in all my life, no more. Just so the long days come and go, Yet this one sin I will not tell Though Mary's heart is as frozen snow And all nights are cold for one warmed too well. But, oh! ma Doué! the nights of Hell!


Sea Love

Tide be runnin' the great world over: 'Twas only last June month I mind that we Was thinkin' the toss and the call in the breast of the lover So everlastin' as the sea. Heer's the same little fishes that sputter an swim, Wi' the moon's old glim on the grey, wet sand; An' him no more to me mor me to him Than the wind goin' over my hand.


Song

Love love to-day, my dear Love is not always here Wise maids know how soon grows sere The greenest leaf of Spring. But no man knoweth Whither it goeth When the wind bloweth So frail a thing. Love love, my dear, to-day If the ship's in the bay If the bird has come your way That sings on summer trees. When his song faileth And the ship saileth No voice availeth To call back these.


The Changeling

Toll no bell for me, dear Father, dear Mother, Waste no sighs; There are my sisters, there is my little brother Who plays in the place called Paradise, Your children all, your children for ever; But I, so wild, Your disgrace, with the queer brown face, was never, Never, I know, but half your child ! In the garden at play, all day, last summer, Far and away I heard The sweet "tweet-tweet" of a strange new-comer, The dearest, clearest call of a bird. It lived down there in the deep green hollow, My own old home, and the fairies say The word of a bird is a thing to follow, So I was away a night and a day. One evening, too, by the nursery fire, We snuggled close and sat round so still, When suddenly as the wind blew higher, Something scratched on the window-sill. A pinched brown face peered in – I shivered; No one listened or seemed to see; The arms of it waved and the wings of it quivered, Whoo – I knew it had come for me; Some are as bad as bad can be ! All night long they danced in the rain, Round and round in a dripping chain, Threw their caps at the window-pane, Tried to make me scream and shout And fling the bedclothes all about: I meant to stay in bed that night, And if only you had left a light They would never have got me out. Sometimes I wouldn't speak, you see, Or answer when you spoke to me, Because in the long, still dusks of Spring You can hear the whole world whispering: The shy green grasses making love, The feathers grow on the dear, grey dove, The tiny heart of the redstart beat, The patter of the squirrel's feet, The pebbles pushing in the silver streams, The rushes talking in their dreams, The swish-swish of the bat's black wings, The wild-wood bluebell's sweet ting-tings, Humming and hammering at your ear, Everything there is to hear In the heart of hidden things, But not in the midst of the nursery riot. That's why I wanted to be quiet, Couldn't do my sums, or sing, Or settle down to anything. And when, for that, I was sent upstairs I did kneel down to say my prayers; But the King who sits on your high church steeple Has nothing to do with us fairy people ! 'Times I pleased you, dear Father, dear Mother, Learned all my lessons and liked to play, And dearly I loved the little pale brother Whom some other bird must have called away. Why did They bring me here to make me Not quite bad and not quite good, Why, unless They're wicked, do They want, in spite, to take me Back to their wet, wild wood ? Now, every night I shall see the windows shining, The gold lamp's glow, and the fire's red gleam, While the best of us are twining twigs and the rest of us are whining In the hollow by the stream. Black and chill are Their nights on the wold; And They live so long and They feel no pain: I shall grow up, but never grow old, I shall always, always be very cold, I shall never come back again !


The Farmer's Bride

Three summers since I chose a maid, Too young maybe-but more's to do At harvest-time that a bide and woo. When us was wed she turned afraid Of love and me and all things human; Like the shut of winter's day Her smile went out, and `twadn't a woman- More like a little frightened fay. One night, in the Fall, she runned away. "Out 'mong the sheep, her be," they said, Should properly have been abed; But sure enough she wadn't there Lying awake with her wide brown stare. So over seven-acre field and up-along across the down We chased her, flying like a hare Before out lanterns. To Church-Town All in a shiver and a scare We caught her, fetched her home at last And turned the key upon her, fast. She does the work about the house As well as most, but like a mouse: Happy enough to cheat and play With birds and rabbits and such as they, So long as men-folk keep away "Not near, not near!" her eyes beseech When one of us comes within reach. The woman say that beasts in stall Look round like children at her call. I've hardly heard her speak at all. Shy as a leveret, swift as he, Straight and slight as a young larch tree, Sweet as the first wild violets, she, To her wild self. But what to me? The short days shorten and the oaks are brown, The blue smoke rises to the low grey sky, One leaf in the still air falls slowly down, A magpie's spotted feathers lie An the black earth spread white with rime, The berries redden up to Christmas-time. What's Christmas-time without there be Some other in the house than we! She sleeps up in the attic there Alone, poor maid. `Tis but a stair Betwixt us. Oh! my God! the down, The soft young down of her, the brown, The brown of her-her eyes, her hair, her hair!


The Fête

To-night again the moon's white mat Stretches across the dormitory floor While outside, like an evil cat The pion prowls down the dark corridor, Planning, I know, to pounce on me, in spite For getting leave to sleep in town last night. But it was none of us who made that noise, Only the old brown owl that hoots and flies Out of the ivy - he will say it was us boys - Seigneur mon Dieu: the sacré soul of spies! He would like to catch each dream that lies Hidden behind our sleepy eyes: Their dream ? But mine-it is the moon and the wood that sees; All my long life how I shall hate the trees! In the Place d'Armes the dusty planes, all Summer through, Dozed with the market women in the sun and scarcely stirred To see the quiet things that crossed the Square -, A tiny funeral, the flying shadow of a bird, The hump-backed barber Celéstin Lemaire, Old Madame Michel in her three-wheeled chair, And filing past to Vespers, two and two, The demoiselles of the pensionnat Towed like a ship through the harbour bar, Safe into port, where le petit Jésus Perhaps makes nothing of the look they shot at you: Si, c'est defendu, mais que voulez-vous? It was the sun. The sunshine weaves A pattern on dull stones: the sunshine leaves The portraiture of dreams upon the eyes Before it dies: All Summer through The dust hung white upon the drowsy planes Till suddenly they woke with the Autumn rains. It is not only the little boys Who have hardly got away from toys, But I, who am seventeen next year, Some nights, in bed, have grown cold to hear That lonely passion of the rain Which makes you think of being dead, And of somewhere living to lay your head As if you were a child again, Crying for one thing, known and near Your empty heart, to still the hunger and the fear That pelts and beats with it against the pane. But I remember smiling too At all the sun's soft tricks and those Autumn dreads In winter time, when the grey light broke slowly through The frosted window-lace to drag us shivering from our beds. And when at dusk the singing wind swung down Straight from the stars to the dark country roads Beyond the twinkling town, Striking the leafless poplar boughs as he went by, Like some poor, stray dog by the wayside lying dead, We left behind us the old world of dread, I and the wind as we strode whistling on under the Winter sky. And then in Spring for three days came the Fair Just as the planes were starting into bud Above the caravans: you saw the dancing bear Pass on his chain; and heard the jingle and the thud. Only four days ago They let you out of this dull show To slither down the montagne russe and chaff the man à la téte de veau Hit, slick, the bull's eye at the tir, Spin round and round till your head went queer On the porcs-roulants. Oh! là là! fête! Va pour du vin, et le tête-a-tête With the girl who sugars the gaufres! Pauvrette, How thin she was! but she smiled, you bet, As she took your tip -"One does not forget The good days, Monsieur". Said with a grace, But sacrebleu: what a ghost of a face! And no fun too for the demoiselles Of the pensionnat, who were hurried past, With their "Oh, que c'est beau - Ah, qu'elle est belle!" A lap-dog's life from first to last! ; The good nights are not made for sleep, nor the good days for dreaming in, And at the end in the big Circus tent we sat and shook and stewed like sin! Some children there had got - but where? Sent from the south, perhaps - a red bouquet Of roses, sweetening the fetid air With scent from gardens by some far away blue bay. They threw one at the dancing bear; The white clown caught it. From St. Rémy's tower The deep, slow bell tolled out the hour; The black clown, with his dirty grin Lay, sprawling in the dust, as She rode in. She stood on a white horse-and suddenly you saw the bend Of a far-off road at dawn, with knights riding by, A field of spears - and then the gallant day Go out in storm, with ragged clouds low down, sullen and grey Against red heavens: wild and awful, such a sky As witnesses against you at the end Of a great battle; bugles blowing, blood and dust - The old Morte d'Arthur, fight you must -. It died in anger. But it was not death That had you by the throat, stopping your breath. She looked like Victory. She rode my way. She laughed at the black clown and then she flew A bird above us, on the wing Of her white arms; and you saw through A rent in the old tent, a patch of sky With one dim star. She flew, but not so high - And then she did not fly; She stood in the bright moonlight at the door Of a strange room, she threw her slippers on the floor - Again, again You heard the patter of the rain, The starving rain - it was this Thing, Summer was this, the gold mist in your eyes;- Oh God! it dies, But after death-, To-night the splendour and the sting Blows back and catches at your breath, The smell of beasts, the smell of dust, the scent of all the roses in the world, the sea, the Spring, The beat of drums, the pad of hoofs, music, the dream, the dream, the Enchanted Thing! At first you scarcely saw her face, You knew the maddening feet were there, What called was that half-hidden, white unrest To which now and then she pressed Her finger-tips; but as she slackened pace And turned and looked at you it grew quite bare: There was not anything you did not dare: - Like trumpeters the hours passed until the last day of the Fair. In the Place d'Armes all afternoon The building birds had sung "Soon, soon", The shuttered streets slept sound that night, It was full moon: The path into the wood was almost white, The trees were very still and seemed to stare: Not far before your soul the Dream flits on, But when you touch it, it is gone And quite alone your soul stands there. Mother of Christ, no one has seen your eyes: how can men pray Even unto you? There were only wolves' eyes in the wood - My Mother is a woman too: Nothing is true that is not good, With that quick smile of hers, I have heard her say; - I wish I had gone back home to-day; I should have watched the light that so gently dies From our high window, in the Paris skies, The long, straight chain Of lamps hung out along the Seine: I would have turned to her and let the rain Beat on her breast as it does against the pane;- Nothing will be the same again; - There is something strange in my little Mother's eyes, There is something new in the old heavenly air of Spring - The smell of beasts, the smell of dust - The Enchanted Thing! All my life long I shall see moonlight on the fern And the black trunks of trees. Only the hair Of any woman can belong to God. The stalks are cruelly broken where we trod, There had been violets there, I shall not care As I used to do when I see the bracken burn.


The Forest Road

The forest road, The infinite straight road stretching away World without end: the breathless road between the walls Of the black listening trees: the hushed, grey road Beyond the window that you shut to-night Crying that you would look at it by day - There is a shadow there that sings and calls But not for you. Oh! hidden eyes that plead in sleep Against the lonely dark, if I could touch the fear And leave it kissed away on quiet lids - If I could hush these hands that are half-awake, Groping for me in sleep I could go free. I wish that God would take them out of mine And fold them like the wings of frightened birds Shot cruelly down, but fluttering into quietness so soon. Broken, forgotten things? there is no grief for them in the green Spring When the new birds fly back to the old trees. But it shall not be so with you. I will look back. I wish I knew that God would stand Smiling and looking down on you when morning comes, To hold you, when you wake, closer than I, So gently though: and not with famished lips or hungry arms: He does not hurt the frailest, dearest things As we do in the dark. See, dear, your hair - I must unloose this hair that sleeps and dreams About my face, and clings like the brown weed To drowned, delivered things, tossed by the tired sea Back to the beaches. Oh! your hair! If you had lain A long time dead on the rough, glistening ledge Of some black cliff, forgotten by the tide, The raving winds would tear, the dripping brine would rust away Fold after fold of all the loveliness That wraps you round, and makes you, lying here, The passionate fragrance that the roses are. But death would spare the glory of your head In the long sweetness of the hair that does not die: The spray would leap to it in every storm, The scent of the unsilenced sea would linger on In these dark waves, and round the silence that was you - Only the nesting gulls would hear - but there would still be whispers in your hair; Keep them for me; keep them for me. What is this singing on the road That makes all other music like the music in a dream - Dumb to the dancing and the marching feet; you know, in dreams, you see Old pipers playing that you cannot hear, And ghostly drums that only seem to beat. This seems to climb: Is it the music of a larger place? It makes our room too small: it is like a stair, A calling stair that climbs up to a smile you scarcely see, Dim, but so waited for; and you know what a smile is, how it calls, How if I smiled you always ran to me. Now you must sleep forgetfully, as children do. There is a Spirit sits by us in sleep Nearer than those who walk with us in the bright day. I think he has a tranquil, saving face: I think he came Straight from the hills: he may have suffered there in time gone by, And once, from those forsaken heights, looked down, Lonely himself, on all the lonely sorrows of the earth. It is his kingdom - Sleep. If I could leave you there - If, without waking you, I could get up and reach the door -! We used to go together. - Shut, scared eyes, Poor, desolate, desperate hands, it is not I Who thrust you off. No, take your hands away - I cannot strike your lonely hands. Yes, I have struck your heart, It did not come so near. Then lie you there Dear and wild heart behind this quivering snow With two red stains on it: and I will strike and tear Mine out, and scatter it to yours. Oh! throbbing dust, You that were life, our little wind-blown hearts! The road! the road! There is a shadow there: I see my soul, I hear my soul, singing among the trees!



The Peddler

Lend me, a little 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 little 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 lies 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 colored beads and painted books that make men wise: Take it. No, give it back!


The Road to Kerity
Do you remember the two old people we passed on the road to Kerity, Resting their sack on the stones, by the drenched wayside, Looking at us with their lightless eyes through the driving rain, and then out again To the rocks, and the long white line of the tide: Frozen ghosts that were children once, husband and wife, father, and mother, Looking at us with those frozen eyes; have you ever seen anything quite so chilled or so old? But we – with our arms about each other, We did not feel the cold!


The Sunlit House

White, through the gate it gleamed and slept In shattered sunshine. The parched garden flowers Their scarlet petals from the beds unswept Like children unloved and ill-kept Dreamed through the hours Two blue hydrangeas by the blistered door burned brown Watched there, and no one in the town Cared to go past it night or day Though why this was they wouldn't say But I, the stranger, knew that I must stay. Pace up the weed-grown paths and down - Till one afternoon - there is just a doubt - Bit I fancy I heard a tiny shout - From an upper window a bird flew out - And I went my way.


The Voice

From our low seat beside the fire Where we have dozed and dreamed, and watched the glow Or raked the ashes, stooping so We scarcely saw the sun and rain Through the small curtained window-pane, Or looked much higher Than this same quiet red or burned-out fire, Tonight we heard a call, A voice on the sharp air, And felt a breath stirring our hair, A flame within us. Something swift and tall Swept in and out and that was all. Was it a bright or a dark angel? Who can know? It made no mark upon the snow; But suddenly, in passing, snapped the chain, Unbarred, flung wide the door Which will not shut again: And so we cannot sit here any more. We must arise and go. The world is cold without And dark and hedged about With mystery and enmity and doubt, But we must go, Though yet we do not know Who called, or what marks we shall leave upon the snow.


A Quoi Bon Dire

     Seventeen years ago you said Something that sounded like Good-bye: And everybody thinks you are dead But I. So I as I grow stiff and cold To this and that say Good-bye too; And everybody sees that I am old But you. And one fine morning in a sunny lane Some boy and girl will meet and kiss and swear That nobody can love their way again While over there You will have smiled, and I shall have tossed your hair

Charlotte Mew

 (1869 - 1928)




Charlotte Mary Mew was born in Bloomsbury (London) in November 15, 
1869. She was the daughter of an architect, who died when she was 
an infant.
Charlotte Mew published stories, essays and poems. She read widely 
in French and spent several holidays in northern France.
Mew had numerous admirers, including Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf, 
Ezra Pound, Siegfried Sassoon and Sara Teasdale.
Her life was darkened by her brother’s and younger sister’s mental 
illness, which confined them to asylums.
At the age of 14 'Lotti' fell madly in love with Lucy Harrison, who was 
a lesbian. Lucy was headmistress at the Gower Street School, where 
Lotti was a pupil.
Two other  major loves of her life were the writer Ella D'Arcy 
and the novelist May Sinclair. Ella returned her overtures of love. 
Charlotte gave up around 1902. 
In 1913, Charlotte fell in love with her friend May Sinclair. 
After a couple of years May became nasty and told others about 
Charlotte's lesbian feelings. She described them a crazy scene 
where she had to leap five times over a bed to get away from her. 
Charlotte's feelings were wounded so badly that she suffered 
a short period of depression. Their friendship ended around 1916.
After the death of her mother and her closest sister Anna (whom 
she lived with) was diagnosed with liver cancer, Charlotte began 
to have serious delusions. When her sister died, she descended 
into a deep depression and was admitted to a nursing home where 
she committed suicide by drinking half a bottle of Lysol.
Her works: Charlotte Mew's short stories appeared early and were published since 1894. "Passed"(1894). "A Wedding Day" (1895). "The China Bowl"(1899). Play. Broadcasted on the B.B.C. West Region, 12 Nov. 1953. "Miss Bolt" (April 1901). "Notes in a Brittany Convent" (Oct. 1901). "Mademoiselle" (1904). "The Poems of Emily Brontë" (1904). Essay. "Mark Stafford's Wife" (1905). "In the Curé's Garden" (1902). "An Open Door" (1903). "The Smile" (1904). "Mary Stuart in Fiction" (1912). Essay. "Men and Trees" (1913). "An Old Servant" (Oct. 1918). "The Hay-Market" (14 Feb. 1914). "The Smile" (May 1914). "A Fatal Fidelity" (1953). "The Wheat" (1954).
Mew's most well-known poems: "Madeleine in Church" (1913). "The Fete" (1916). "The Farmer's Bride" (1916). A collection of 28 poems. The edition, published in 1921, contains 11 more poems.




Charlotte Mew - Madeleine in church


Biography - Lotti's Leap


Ella Wheeler - Solitude


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Update: 17-01-2016.