Saturday Market

By Charlotte Mew 1869–1928 Charlotte Mew
Bury your heart in some deep green hollow
     Or hide it up in a kind old tree;
Better still, give it the swallow
     When she goes over the sea.
 
In Saturday’s Market there’s eggs a ’plenty
     And dead-alive ducks with their legs tied down,
Grey old gaffers and boys of twenty—
     Girls and the women of the town—
Pitchers and sugar-sticks, ribbons and laces,
     Poises and whips and dicky-birds’ seed,
Silver pieces and smiling faces,
     In Saturday Market they’ve all they need.
 
What were you showing in Saturday Market
     That set it grinning from end to end
Girls and gaffers and boys of twenty—?
     Cover it close with your shawl, my friend—
Hasten you home with the laugh behind you,
     Over the down—, out of sight,
Fasten your door, though no one will find you,
     No one will look on a Market night.
 
See, you, the shawl is wet, take out from under
     The red dead thing—. In the white of the moon
On the flags does it stir again? Well, and no wonder!
     Best make an end of it; bury it soon.
If there is blood on the hearth who’ll know it?
     Or blood on the stairs,
When a murder is over and done why show it?
     In Saturday Market nobody cares.
      
Then lie you straight on your bed for a short, short weeping
     And still, for a long, long rest,
There’s never a one in the town so sure of sleeping
     As you, in the house on the down with a hole in your breast.
 
              Think no more of the swallow,
                     Forget, you, the sea,
     Never again remember the deep green hollow
                     Or the top of the kind old tree!

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Poet Charlotte Mew 1869–1928

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living, Death, Social Commentaries, Mythology & Folklore, Ghosts & the Supernatural

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Biography

The life of turn-of-the-twentieth-century British writer Charlotte Mew was full of tragedy from beginning to end. Mew was born in London in 1869 into a family of seven children; she was the eldest daughter. While she was still a child, three of her brothers died. Later, another brother and then a sister were committed to mental hospitals in their twenties where they would spend the rest of their lives. That left only Charlotte . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Social Commentaries, Mythology & Folklore, Ghosts & the Supernatural

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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