Monday, 14 March 2016

Poetry Revisited: Books by Constance Naden


(from Songs and Sonnets of Springtime: 1881)

Oh, fatal fruits, nurtured with tears and blood!
To taste your richness, we have given youth,
Unshadowed mirth, and calm credulity;
Your heavy perfume spoils the wild‐flower scent
Wafted around us by the winds of heaven.
Ye steal the young delight, that was so sweet,
The simple, thoughtless joy in all things fair,
Giving instead a weary questioning,
A striving for what cannot be attained,
A cloudy vision of the inner life.
We might have lingered in our paradise,
Hearing no music sadder than the notes
Of dreamy birds; while Hope and Memory,
Still young and fair and gaily innocent,
Still undefiled by any touch of doubt,
Together trod the dewy meads of life.

Thus said I, in unreasoning complaint,
Bitterly railing on the friends I love
Because their voice and sweet companionship
Must bring the grief that ever comes with joy.
My heart was full: each common sight and sound
Seemed fraught with mournful meaning; and the earth
Was like a hopeless bride, bedecked in vain
With gems and flowers, for one who will not come.
What wonder I rebelled against the art
That taught me thus to think in metaphors,
And gave me reasons for my soul’s unrest?
For I remembered not that it had drawn
My higher nature forth, and given voice
To secret melody. I missed the truth
That knowledge is a greater thing than mirth.
And aspiration more than happiness.

Constance Naden (1858-1889)
English writer, poet and philosopher

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