Monday, 24 March 2008

Charlotte Mew, poet - part 4

This is the fourth and final part of Poet-in-Residence's short series about the tragic poet Charlotte Mew, the female poet much admired by Thomas Hardy and T S Eliot. Today is the 80th anniversary of her death.
The following poem is somewhat gentle compared to some of the other Charlotte Mew poems that P-i-R has featured but nevertheless it's a very suitable poem for a final statement. Mew is reputed to have said to the doctors who tried to save her, "Don't keep me; let me go."

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 coloured beads and painted books that make men wise:
Take it. No, give it back!

Charlotte Mew (1869 - 1928)

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