The Wife Speaks

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)
More Poems by Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard