The Wife Speaks

By Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard 1823–1902
Husband, today could you and I behold   
The sun that brought us to our bridal morn
Rising so splendid in the winter sky
(We though fair spring returned), when we were wed;
Could the shades vanish from these fifteen years,
Which stand like columns guarding the approach
To that great temple of the double soul
That is as one – would you turn back, my dear,
And, for the sake of Love’s mysterious dream,
As old as Adam and as sweet as Eve,
Take me, as I took you, and once more go
Towards that goal which none of us have reached?
Contesting battles which but prove a loss,
The victor vanquished by the wounded one;
Teaching each other sacrifice of self,
True immolation to the marriage bond;
Learning the joys of birth, the woe of death,
Leaving in chaos all the hopes of life—
Heart-broken, yet with courage pressing on
For fame and fortune, artists needing both?
Or, would you rather – I will acquiesce—
Since we must choose what is, and are grown gray,
Stay in life’s desert, watch our setting sun,
Calm as those statues in Egyptian sands,
Hand clasping hand, with patience and with peace,
Wait for a future which contains no past?

Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)

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Poet Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard 1823–1902

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Marriage & Companionship, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Men & Women, Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

Poetic Terms Syllabic

Biography

Poet, fiction writer, and essayist Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard was born and raised in Mattapoisset, Massachusetts. The daughter of a shipbuilder, Stoddard was educated at Wheaton Female Seminary. She married poet Richard Stoddard in 1851 and together they had three children, two of whom died as infants. The Stoddards’ New York City home was a gathering place for local poets, and Elizabeth began to submit her own poetry, . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Marriage & Companionship, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Men & Women, Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Syllabic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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