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Sweet Bells Jangled

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―――

I am nineteen to-day. Im growing old.
I saw the merest phantom of a wrinkle
Between my brows this morning. Mother says
It is because I pore above my book
So late of nights ; and Mother does not like
To have me different from other girls,
Except that I should show the freshest face,
The prettiest dresses, and the readiest smile.
And ah! how shocked she would be, if she knew
That I write poems sometimes,― nay, not poems,
But wretched verses; that Ive even dared
To publish some of them. I signed them Faith,
And never was so flurried in my life,
Nor so exultant, as when first I saw
My rhymes― my very own― in black and white
For all the world to read; and not a soul
Had even the least suspicion they were mine!
I hardly know what I would like to be;
But then it is so grand to be a poet!
If I might be one! God! how Art is long!
Great Goethe says, and at his words I shudder;
For I have done no more than play at work.
Can I do more? Can I stand all alone?
I do not know, and there are none to help me.
If Mother saw me musing, she would say
Something in substance very much like this:
Go to your music! or, Go take a walk!
I hate to see you moping. It is bad
For any girls complexion. Do you know
That Edward Mason marries Mary Grey?
And she will wear white satin and real lace!
And you left school a year before she did,
And might have had him. Yes, that is the way!
Leave school, get married, (just as well be buried!)
Have a fine house, and get ones life crushed out
In caring for it. Dust on the piano,―
And no book opened,― never time to think!
Then the babies come! ― Is that wan woman there
The merry, pink-cheeked girl I used to know?
She dies at forty years, or thereabouts,
And fades from memory as she fades from sight.
What has she done but drag herself through life?
And Mother wants that I should be like this!


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