Sunday Poetry – Adelaide Anne Proctor

Adelaide Anne Proctor was one of the most popular poets of the mid 19th century. Her father, Bryan Waller Proctor was a solicitor & poet & she moved in literary circles. She contributed to Dickens’s periodicals Household Words & All The Year Round, writing stories & poems. She was also involved in the women’s rights movement & her work was published in the English Women’s Journal which promoted women’s suffrage. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 39 after years of ill health. My anthology has quite a substantial selection of her poems & I liked this one, A Woman’s Last Word, which is full of sadness & regret.

Well–the links are broken,
All is past;
This farewell, when spoken,
Is the last.
I have tried and striven
All in vain;
Such bonds must be riven,
Spite of pain,
And never, never, never
Knit again.

So I tell you plainly,
It must be:
I shall try, not vainly,
To be free;
Truer, happier chances
Wait me yet,
While you, through fresh fancies,
Can forget;–
And life has nobler uses
Than Regret.

All past words retracing,
One by one,
Does not help effacing
What is done.
Let it be. Oh, stronger
Links can break!
Had we dreamed still longer
We could wake,–
Yet let us part in kindness
For Love’s sake.

Bitterness and sorrow
Will at last,
In some bright to-morrow,
Heal their past;
But future hearts will never
Be as true
As mine was–is ever,
Dear, for you . . .
. . . Then must we part, when loving
As we do?

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