Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE OLD WOMAN, by RAINER MARIA RILKE Poet's Biography
First Line: White-faced friends in the midst of today
Last Line: And shows old heirlooms of amazing stones.
Subject(s): Old Age
White-faced friends in the midst of today
laugh and listen and plan for the morrow;
apart are the folk who sedately weigh
slowly each trouble and minor sorrow
always the Why and the When and the How,
and one hears them say: I really believe;
but she sits there, whom they cannot deceive,
thinking behind her lace-capped brow
how foolish they are, one and all.
And her dropping chin leans, sharp and small,
on the coral, white to match her shawl
and her pale forehead's ivory tones.
But sometimes, when sudden laughter rings,
from under her lifted lids she brings
two alert looks, displaying these hard things
as when one presses a chest's secret springs
and shows old heirlooms of amazing stones.
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