To Monica: After Nine Years, by Francis Thompson

Bertha Wegmann - Portrait of a girl
Bertha Wegmann – Portrait of a girl (1880) – from tuttartpitturasculturapoesiamusica.com

Another poem of Francis Thompson published posthumously. Addressed to Monica Meynell, it alludes to an earlier poem dedicated to her, “The Poppy,” which was probably written in 1891 when the girl was 11 years old. Hence this one can be dated around 1900, written for a 20 years old Monica.

To Monica: After Nine Years

In the land of flag-lilies,
Where burst in golden clangours
The joy-bells of the broom,
You were full of willy-nillies,
Pets, and bee-like angers:
Flaming like a dusky poppy,
In a wrathful bloom.

You were full of sweet and sour,
Like a dish of strawberries
Set about with curd.
In your petulant foot was power,
In your wilful innocences,
Your wild and fragrant word.
O, was it you that sweetly spake,
Or I that sweetly heard?

Yellow were the wheat-ways,
The poppies were most red;
And all your meet and feat ways,
Your sudden bee-like snarlings,—
Ah, do you remember,
Darling of the darlings?
Or is it but an ember,
A rusted peal of joy-bells,
Their golden buzzings dead?

Now at one, and now at two,
Swift to pout and swift to woo,
The maid I knew:
Still I see the duskèd tresses—
But the old angers, old caresses?
Still your eyes are autumn thunders,
But where are you, child, you?

This your beauty is a script
Writ with pencil brightest-dipt—
Oh, it is the fairest scroll
For a young, departed soul!—
Thus you say:
‘Thrice three years ago to-day,
There was one
Shall no more beneath the sun
Darkle, fondle, featly play.
If to think on her be gloom,
Rejoice she has so rich a tomb!’

But there’s he—
Ask thou not who it may be!—
That, until Time’s boughs are bare,
Shall be unconsoled for her.

Source of the poem: The works of Francis Thompson, Poems: Volume 2, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913, available on Internet Archive. See also the hypertext transcription in PoetryNook.

Previously published on Agapeta, 2016/08/19.

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