Thursday, 21 February 2008

Charlotte Mew, part 1

According to Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Mew was the best woman poet of the day. Sadly, due to financial worries and family problems, Mew killed herself on 24th March 1928, at the age of 58, by drinking poison. Poet-in-Residence looks at the intriguing and neglected world of Charlotte Mew, beginning with her poem 'The Call'.

The Call

From our low seat beside the fire
Where we have dozed and dreamed and watched the glow
Or raked the ashes, stopping so
We scarcely saw the sun or rain
Above, or looked much higher
Than this same quiet red or burned-out fire.
Tonight we heard a call,
A rattle on the window pane,
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 left no mark upon the snow,
But suddenly it snapped the chain
Unbarred, flung wide the door
Which will not shut again;
And so we cannnot 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.

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