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Mrs. Emerson Remembers

 

I was not his first love. That was her.

Beautiful and dead at twenty. What

Mature woman could compete with that?

We named our eldest daughter after her.

Ellen. He asked. I agreed. You see I knew.

Ellen would be my child and not his wife

In time. Though I did not then comprehend

how long In Time could be when one is married.

Now I know. Now I have learned In Time.

My name he changed. From Lydia to Lidian.

He needed something grander I suppose.

Jackson or Emerson, I knew who I was.

My Asia as well. And Mrs. Emerson

When he was cross. A sweet man, all in all,  

even sweeter as he faded late.

Waldo, we lost. Broke his heart, and mine.

After Waldo nothing was the same.

Dear Henry too. Nothing more to say.  

And the house. My old house, burned away.

We sent him off. I was the one to stay

And try to put our seasons back in place.  

He went to Eqypt. Edith came to me.

If that was not our life, then I don’t know.

He mourned his books. I mourned, what did I mourn?

A cushion I had mended just that day.

A hat that I had always meant to wear.

A pie left cooling on the window sill.

Did I mourn there was no more to mourn?

No, my accumulations were not singed.

She had two years. I had forty-seven.

She the preacher, I the famous sage.

She the passion, I the children,

She the life and I the living.

She was his first and maybe only love.

But it was my quince apple pie

That made him who he was.

 

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'Did I mourn there was no more to mourn?'

One of the stages of mellow age and gritty experience. I like to think it a challenge as much as a reflection.

The arc of this piece is like life itself, a beginning, a multi-threaded middle, and a resolution of sorts, Lidian's life subsumed (as women's lives usually were then) in her husband's. The air of sad resignation - I can really feel how it has seeped deep into her and threatens to lodge - is a coming to terms with loss not only of Emerson, but of never achieving the status (she feels) of Ellen in his affections, and also, I sense, of him never having loved her as much as she did him. The shadow of the first wife, for Lidian herself, must have been enough to predispose this. But it is a solace she will always cherish, that she secretly knew her strengths and nurtured him in ways of which he was probably unaware.

Nice monologue! Deeply wistful.

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I Think

She must have been a remarkable woman.

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Powerful...

The poet, the poem and the speaker. Really, really engaged with the magnetism of this "deeply wistful" (as Rosy says) poem.

~ H

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Thank You

a bit different for me.

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The Concord Library

has pictures of them both. http://www.concordlibrary.org/