Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A Moment

by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

The clouds had made a crimson crown
About the mountains high.
The stormy sun was going down
In a stormy sky.

Why did you let your eyes so rest on me,
And hold your breath between?
In all the ages this can never be
As if it had not been.

* * *

This poet was an Englishwoman who lived from 1861-1907. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was her great-great-uncle. I'm afraid that's all I know about her--I found the poem in an anthology.

But isn't it a great poem--at least in terms of meaning? (I do admit it doesn't always scan evenly.) It's just a beautiful description of how a moment can last, in a sense, forever. We can never forget--particularly, I think, we women. People might tell us to forget, that one moment doesn't matter, that it can be as if it never happened . . . but that is not possible. Even the sad memories must be remembered. But if we learn wisdom from them as we look back on them, even the sad memories can be good to remember.

This poem, however, is about a happy moment, I think. Even if whoever it was who looked at her that way never looked at her again, I think it would still be a valuable moment to remember. "Once I was something to someone . . ." A moment like that is one to keep, to fold up in with the linens in an old chest, to hide away in the attic, and to take out on a winter afternoon spent looking over one's treasures. Maybe there is a drop of bitterness in thinking of it--but I think more sweetness.

All right, there I go sentimental again. Sorry, Constant Reader.

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