Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FIRST GRAY HAIR, by THOMAS HAYNES BAYLY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE FIRST GRAY HAIR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The matron at her mirror
Last Line: Behold the first gray hair!
Alternate Author Name(s): Bayly, Nathaniel Thomas Haynes
Subject(s): Women - Middle Aged

THE matron at her mirror,
With her hand upon her brow,
Sits gazing on her lovely face, --
Ay, lovely even now;
Why doth she lean upon her hand
With such a look of care?
Why steals that tear across her cheek?
She sees her first gray hair.

Time from her form hath ta'en away
But little of its grace;
His touch of thought hath dignified
The beauty of her face;
Yet she might mingle in the dance,
Where maidens gaily trip,
So bright is still her hazel eye,
So beautiful her lip.

The faded form is often mark'd
By sorrow more than years, --
The wrinkle on the cheek may be
The course of secret tears;
The mournful lip may murmur of
A love it ne'er confest,
And the dimness of the eye betray
A heart that cannot rest.

But she hath been a happy wife
The lover of her youth
May proudly claim the smile that pays
The trial of his truth;
A sense of slight, -- of loneliness, --
Hath never banish'd sleep:
Her life hath been a cloudless one;
Then wherefore doth she weep?

She look'd upon her raven locks,
What thoughts did they recall?
Oh! not of nights when they were deck'd
For banquet or for ball;
They brought back thoughts of early youth,
Ere she had learnt to check,
With artificial wreaths, the curls
That sported o'er her neck.

She seem'd to feel her mother's hand
Pass lightly through her hair,
And draw it from her brow, to leave
A kiss of kindness there;
She seem'd to view her father's smile,
And feel the playful touch
That sometimes feign'd to steal away
The curls she prized so much.

And now she sees her first gray hair!
Oh, deem it not a crime
For her to weep, when she beholds
The first footmark of Time!
She knows that, one by one, those mute
Mementos will increase,
And steal youth, beauty, strength away,
Till life itself shall cease.

'T is not the tear of vanity
For beauty on the wane;
Yet, though the blossom may not sigh
To bud and bloom again --
It cannot but remember,
With a feeling of regret,
The spring for ever gone, --
The summer sun so nearly set.

Ah, lady! heed the monitor!
Thy mirror tells thee truth;
Assume the matron's folded veil,
Resign the wreath of youth:
Go! bind it on thy daughter's brow,
In her thou'lt still look fair --
'T were well would all learn wisdom who
Behold the first gray hair!

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