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A Living Picture

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik 1826 (Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire) – 1887 (Shortlands, London)



No, I'll not say your name. I have said it now,
As you mine, first in childish treble, then
Up through a score and more familiar years
Till baby-voices mock us. Time may come
When your tall sons look down on our white hair,
Amused to hear us call each other thus,
And question us about the old, old days,
The far-off days, the days when we were young.

How distant do they seem, and yet how near!
Now, as I lie and watch you come and go,
With garden basket in your hand; in gown
Just girdled, and brown curls that girl-like fall,
And straw hat flapping in the April breeze,
I could forget this lapse of years--start up
Laughing--'Come, let's go play!'
Well-a-day, friend,
Our play-days are all done.
Still, let us smile:
For as you flit about your garden here
You look like this spring morning: on your lips
An unseen bird sings snatches of gay tunes,
While, an embodied music, moves your step,
Your free, wild, springy step, like Atala's,
Or Pocahontas, careless child o' the sun--
Those Indian beauties I compare you to--
I, still your praiser,--
Nay, nay, I'll not praise,
Fair seemeth fairest, ignorant 't is fair:
That light incredulous laugh is worth a world!
That laugh, with childish echoes.
So then, fade,
Mere dream. Come, true and sweet reality:
Come, dawn of happy wifehood, motherhood,
Ripening to perfect noon! Come, peaceful round
Of simple joys, fond duties, gladsome cares,
When each full hour drops bliss with liberal hand,
Yet leaves to-morrow richer than to-day.

Will you sit here? the grass is summer-warm.
Look at those children making daisy-chains,
So did we too, do you mind? That eldest lad,
He has your very mouth. Yet, you will have 't
His eyes are like his father's? Perhaps so:
They could not be more dark and deep and kind.
Do you know, this hour I have been fancying you
A poet's dream, and almost sighed to think
There was no poet to praise you--
Why, you're flown
After those mad elves in the flower-beds there,
Ha--ha--you're no dream now.
Well, well--so best!
My eyelids droop content o'er moistened eyes:
I would not have you other than you are.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Dinah Maria Craik (; born Dinah Maria Mulock, also often credited as Miss Mulock or Mrs. Craik) was an English novelist and poet. She is best remembered for her novel John Halifax, Gentleman, which presents the mid-Victorian ideals of English middle-class life.  more…

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