Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Age
 
Herbert Edwin Clarke (b. 1852)
 
 
I
A PALE and soul-sick woman with wan eyes
Fixed on their own reflection in the glass,
Uncertain lips half-oped to say “Alas,
Naked I stand between two mysteries,
Finding my wisdom naught who am most wise.”        5
Behind, the shapes and fiery shadows pass
Of fervent life; no joy in them she has,
But gazing on herself she moans and sighs.
And yet of knowledge she doth hold the key,
And Power and Pleasure are her hand-maidens,        10
And all past years have given of their best
To make her rich and great and strong and free,
Who stands in slack and listless impotence,
Marvelling sadly at her own unrest.
 
II
Her children cluster round about her knees;
        15
The hoarded wealth and wisdom of the Dead
Of all past time they have inherited,
And still within their hands it doth increase;
Yet in their eyes in mirrored her dis-peace,
Her weariness within their hearts is shed;        20
Her dreary sorrow weighs each drooping head,
And each soul sickens with her fell disease.
Beneath their feet lie many broken toys,
They are too old to laugh, too wise to pray,
Or look to God for wage or chastisement:        25
They have known all sorrows, wearied of all joys,
Fed all desires, and none hath said them nay;
Two things alone they lack, Peace and Content.
 

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