Three poems by Mary Coleridge

The Other Side of A Mirror                 Mary Elizabeth Coleridge         1862-1907

I sat before my glass one day,
And conjured up a vision bare,
Unlike the aspects glad and gay,
That erst were found reflected there-
The vision of a woman, wild
With more than womanly despair.
Her hair stood back on either side
A face bereft of loveliness.
It had no envy now to hide
What once no man on earth could guess.
It formed the thorny aureole
Of hard, unsanctified distress.
Her lips were open — not a sound
Came through the parted lines of red.
Whate’er it was, the hideous wound
In silence and in secret bled.
No sigh relieved her speechless woe,
She had no voice to speak her dread.
And in her lurid eyes there shone
The dying flame of life’s desire,
Made mad because its hope was gone,
And kindled at the leaping fire
Of jealousy, and fierce revenge,
And strength that could not change nor tire.
Shade of a shadow in the glass,
O set the crystal surface free!
Pass — as the fairer visions pass —
Nor ever more return, to be
The ghost of a distracted hour,
That heard me whisper, “I am she!”

To Memory
Strange Power, I know not what thou art,
Murderer or mistress of my heart.
I know I’d rather meet the blow
Of my most unrelenting foe
Than live—as now I live—to be
Slain twenty times a day by thee.

Yet, when I would command thee hence,
Thou mockest at the vain pretence,
Murmuring in mine ear a song
Once loved, alas! forgotten long;
And on my brow I feel a kiss
That I would rather die than miss.
When My Love Did What I Would Not, What I Would Not
When my love did what I would not, what I would not,
I could hear his merry voice upon the wind,
Crying, “e;Fairest, shut your eyes, for see you should not.
Love is blind!”

When my love said what I say not, what I say not,
With a joyous laugh he quieted my fears,
Whispering, “Fairest, hearken not, for hear you may not.
Hath Love ears?”

When my love said, “Will you longer let me seek it?
Blind and deaf is she that doth not bid me come!”
All my heart said murmuring, “Dearest, can I speak it?
Love is dumb!

see also Emily Bronte,  Jane Taylor


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