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Her Memories

Augusta Davies Webster 1837 (Poole, Dorset) – 1894

NOT by her grave: thither I bid them take
Fresh garlands of the flowers that pleased her best,
And lay them by the headstone, for my sake,
My token and remembrance with the rest:
But here, where in the brightening of the west
I see her mountains grow into the sky,
Her native world, and mine because of her,
Here, where that low sigh of the pinewood's stir,
That was her dearest music, fills all sound
,I am with her;
And always, always, past comes passing by,
Lost in her grave, but here as if half found.

Not by her grave: it is too still, too cold,
And save my loss is nothing with me there.
What memories have I there of her of old?
They came not there, the dear lost days that were;
Not she lies there, but only my despair;
Not she, but death and all my loneliness.
What memories save all memories love must shun?
I would not think of death and her as one;
She shall be only life-ful in my mind,
With life's self one;
A name of glad remindings and old bliss,
So something of her presence left behind.

Not by her grave: some day will I return,
When sorrow keeps its wont unvexed by place,
And, sitting on the turf beside, will learn
To call before me there her waking face,
Not that white face that slept and took no trace
Of change because I kissed it, nor for tears.
Some day; for now I should forget her so,
Lose the fair happy woman and but know
The coldness and the silence when she died,
Lose her all so,
My love that was my life of all for years.
She loved this music when the pinewoods sighed.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Augusta Davies Webster

Augusta Webster born in Poole, Dorset as Julia Augusta Davies, was an English poet, dramatist, essayist, and translator. The daughter of Vice-admiral George Davies and Julia Hume, she spent her younger years on board the ship he was stationed, the Griper. She studied Greek at home, taking a particular interest in Greek drama, and went on to study at the Cambridge School of Art. She published her first volume of poetry in 1860 under the pen name Cecil Homes. In 1863, she married Thomas Webster, a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. They had a daughter, Augusta Georgiana, who married Reverend George Theobald Bourke, a younger son of the Joseph Bourke, 3rd Earl of Mayo. Much of Webster's writing explored the condition of women, and she was a strong advocate of women's right to vote, working for the London branch of the National Committee for Women's Suffrage. She was the first female writer to hold elective office, having been elected to the London School Board in 1879 and 1885. In 1885 she travelled to Italy in an attempt to improve her failing health. She died on 5 September 1894, aged 57. During her lifetime her writing was acclaimed and she was considered by some the successor to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. After her death, however, her reputation quickly declined. Since the mid-1990s she has gained increasing critical attention from scholars such as Isobel Armstrong, Angela Leighton, and Christine Sutphin. Her best-known poems include three long dramatic monologues spoken by women: A Castaway, Circe, and The Happiest Girl In The World, as well as a posthumously published sonnet-sequence, "Mother and Daughter". more…

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