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To an Old Lady in a Train

Alice Duer Miller 1874 (New York) – 1942 (New York)



HER hair was beautifully white
Beneath her bonnet, black as night,
Which, plainly of New England kin,
Was tied with strings beneath her chin.
And when she spoke I had no choice
But listened to that soft crisp voice;
And when she smiled, I saw the truth,
She had been lovely in her youth,
And with those quick, observing eyes,
Was charming still to all the wise.
And still, in spite of bonnet strings,
She thought keen, quaint, amusing things,
With gaiety that many hold
Remarkable in one so old.

We talked ten minutes in a train,
And when we came to part again,
Good-bye, enjoy yourself,' said she,
I told her that ahead of me
No pleasure beckoned, no, I said,
Stern duty only lay ahead!
Oh, well,' her parting answer ran,
Enjoy yourself the best you can.'
And so unconquerably gay,
She went upon her darkening way.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Alice Duer Miller

Alice Duer Miller was a writer from the U.S. whose poetry actively influenced political opinion. Her feminist verses made an impact on the suffrage issue, and her verse novel The White Cliffs encouraged U.S. entry into World War II. She also wrote novels and screenplays. more…

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