Being Old: A Poem and A Comment
The Other Side of a Mirror
by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
(Written in 1770)
[Moderator's note: Regarding the date found in OldPoetry, read the Comment section of this post]
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 though the parted lines of red,
Whate'er it was, the hideous wound
In silence and 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!'
Thinking back on the recent posting about the view regarding a “duty to die by the elderly”, I wonder if any of the visitors who commented on my website on that topic—and virtually all were strongly against the view—were actually the elderly. Do you think the elderly would agree with the majority of my visitors?
I am one of those elderly and fortunately I feel active and productive and don’t really have the reflections that Mary Elizabeth had in her poem. How do others of 65 or older feel about their age and the quality of life, benefits and burdens, that advanced age brings with it? ..Maurice.