So fair is she!
So fair her face
So fair her pulsing figure
Not so fair
The maniacal stare
Of a husband who's much bigger.
Robert Louis Stevenson
SO live, so love, so use that fragile hour,
That when the dark hand of the shining power
Shall one from other, wife or husband, take,
The poor survivor may not weep and wake.
Under the crescent moon's faint glow
The washerman's bat resounds afar,
And the autumn breeze sighs tenderly.
But my heart has gone to the Tartar war,
To bleak Kansuh and the steppes of snow,
Calling my husband back to me.
I had a little husband no bigger than my thumb,
I put him in a pint pot, and there I bid him drum,
I bought a little handkerchief to wipe his little nose,
And a pair of little garters to tie his little hose.
There was an old woman in Surrey,
Who was morn, noon, and night in a hurry;
Called her husband a fool,
Drove the children to school,
The worrying old woman of Surrey.
LET us twain walk aside from the rest;
Now we are together privately, do you discard ceremony,
Come! vouchsafe to me what has yet been vouchsafed to none—Tell me the whole story,
Tell me what you would not tell your brother, wife, husband, or physician.
Edgar Lee Masters
Henry got me with child,
Knowing that I could not bring forth life
Without losing my own.
In my youth therefore I entered the portals of dust.
Traveler, it is believed in the village where I lived
That Henry loved me with a husband's love,
But I proclaim from the dust
That he slew me to gratify his hatred.
last night I dreamt
they cut off your hands and feet.
you whispered to me,
Now we are both incomplete.
I held all four
in my arms like sons and daughters.
I bent slowly down
and washed them in magical waters.
I placed each one
where it belonged on you.
you said and we laughed
the laugh of the well-to-do.
Title divine -- is mine!
The Wife -- without the Sign!
Acute Degree -- conferred on me --
Empress of Calvary!
Royal -- all but the Crown!
Betrothed -- without the swoon
God sends us Women --
When you -- hold -- Garnet to Garnet --
Gold -- to Gold --
Born -- Bridalled -- Shrouded --
In a Day --
"My Husband" -- women say --
Stroking the Melody --
Is this -- the way?
My mother never heard of Freud
and she decided as a little girl
that she would call her husband Dick
no matter what his first name was
and did. He called her Ditty. They
called me Bud, and our generic names
amused my analyst. That must, she said,
explain the crazy times I had in bed
and quoted Freud: "Life is pain."
"What do women want?" and "My
prosthesis does not speak French."
O YE whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
Draw near with pious rev’rence, and attend!
Here lie the loving husband’s dear remains,
The tender father, and the gen’rous friend;
The pitying heart that felt for human woe,
The dauntless heart that fear’d no human pride;
The friend of man-to vice alone a foe;
For “ev’n his failings lean’d to virtue’s side.” 1
Note 1. Goldsmith.—R. B. [back]
William Carlos (WCW) Williams
At ten AM the young housewife
moves about in negligee behind
the wooden walls of her husband's house.
I pass solitary in my car.
Then again she comes to the curb
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
shy, uncorseted, tucking in
stray ends of hair, and I compare her
to a fallen leaf.
The noiseless wheels of my car
rush with a crackling sound over
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling.
ONE Queen Artemisia, as old stories tell,
When deprived of her husband she loved so well,
In respect for the love and affection he show’d her,
She reduc’d him to dust and she drank up the powder.
But Queen Netherplace, of a diff’rent complexion,
When called on to order the fun’ral direction,
Would have eat her dead lord, on a slender pretence,
Not to show her respect, but—to save the expense!
The lover in these poems
as husband, lover
analyst & muse,
as father, son
& maybe even God
& surely death.
All this is true.
The man you turn to
in the dark
is many men.
This is an open secret
& yet agree to hide
they might then
hide it from themselves.
I will not hide.
I write in the nude.
I name names.
I am I.
The doctor's name is Love.
AMONG the men and women, the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else—not parent, wife, husband, brother, child, any nearer than I
Some are baffled—But that one is not—that one knows me.
Ah, lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections;
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the like in you.
The stout poet tiptoes
On the lawn. Surprisingly limber
In his thick sweater
Like a middle-age burglar.
Is the young robin injured?
She bends to feed the geese
Revealing the neck’s white curve
Below her curled hair.
Her husband seems not to watch,
But she shimmers in his poem.
A hush is on the house,
The only noise, a fern,
Rustling in a vase.
On the porch, the fierce poet
Is chanting words to himself.
Walter de la Mare
Over the fence, the dead settle in
for a journey. Nine o'clock.
You are alone for the first time
today. Boys asleep. Husband out.
A beer bottle sweats in your hand,
and sea lavender clogs the air
with perfume. Think of yourself.
Your arms rest with nothing to do
after weeks spent attending to others.
Your thoughts turn to whether
butter will last the week, how much
longer the car can run on its partial tank of gas.
Edgar Lee Masters
Have you seen walking through the village
A man with downcast eyes and haggard face?
That is my husband who, by secret cruelty
never to be told, robbed me of my youth and my beauty;
Till at last, wrinkled and with yellow teeth,
And with broken pride and shameful humility,
I sank into the grave.
But what think you gnaws at my husband's heart?
The face of what I was, the face of what he made me!
These are driving him to the place where I lie.
In death, therefore, I am avenged.
Say how or when
Shall we, thy guests,
Meet at those lyric feasts,
Made at the Sun,
The Dog, the Triple Tun;
Where we such clusters had,
As made us nobly wild, not mad?
And yet each verse of thine
Out-did the meat, out-did the frolic wine.
Or come again,
Or send to us
Thy wit's great overplus;
But teach us yet
Wisely to husband it,
Lest we that talent spend;
And having once brought to an end
That precious stock,--the store
Of such a wit the world should have no more.
FOR the second time in a year this lady with the white hands is brought to the west room second floor of a famous sanatorium.
Her husband is a cornice manufacturer in an Iowa town and the lady has often read papers on Victorian poets before the local literary club.
Yesterday she washed her hands forty seven times during her waking hours and in her sleep moaned restlessly attempting to clean imaginary soiled spots off her hands.
Now the head physician touches his chin with a crooked forefinger.