Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ARTHUR'S WIFE, by PHOEBE CARY

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ARTHUR'S WIFE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I'm getting better, miriam, though it tires me yet to speak
Last Line: A trouble to myself, and, worse, a trouble now to you.
Subject(s): Marriage; Human Behavior

I'M getting better, Miriam, though it tires me yet to speak;
And the fever, clinging to me, keeps me spiritless and weak,
And leaves me with a headache always when it passes off;
But I'm better, almost well at last, except this wretched cough!

I should have passed the livelong day alone here but for you;
For Arthur never comes till night, he has so much to do!
And so sometimes I lie and think, till my heart seems night to burst,
Of the hope that lit my future, when I I watched his coming first.

I wonder why it is that now he does not seem the same;
Perhaps my fancy is at fault, and he is not to blame;
It surely cannot be because he has me always near,
For I feared and felt it long before the time he brought me here.

Yet still, I said, his wife will charm each shadow from his brow,
What can I do to win his love, or prove my loving now?
So I waited, studying patiently his every look and thought;
But I fear that I shall never learn to please him as I ought.

I've tried so many ways, to smooth his path where it was rough,
But I always either do too much, or fail to do enough;
And at times, as if it wearied him, he pushes off my arm --
The very things that used to please have somehow lost their charm.

Once, when I wore a pretty gown, a gown he use to praise,
I asked him, laughing, if I seemed the sweetheart of old days.
He did not know the dress, and said, he never could have told,
'T was not that unbecoming one, which made me look so old!

I cannot tell how anything I do may seems to him.
Sometimes he thinks me childish, and sometimes stiff and prim;
Yet you must not think I blame him, dear; I could not wrong him so --
He is very good to me, and I am happy, too, you know!

But I am often troublesome, and sick too much, I fear,
And sometimes let the children cry when he is home to hear.
Ah me! if I should leave them, with no other care than his!
Yet he says his love is wiser than my foolish fondness is.

I think he'd care about the babe. I called him Arthur, too --
Hoping to please him when I said, I named him, love, for you!
He never noticed any child of mine, except this one,
So the girls would only have to do as they have always done.

Give me my wrapper, Miriam. Help me a little, dear!
When Arthur comes home, vexed and tired, he must not find me here.
Why, I can even go down-stairs: I always make the tea.
He does not like that any one should wait on him but me.

He never sees me lying down when he is home, you know,
And I seldom tell him how I feel, he hates to hear it so;
Yet I'm sure he grieves in secret at the thought that I may die,
Though he often laughs at me, and says, "You're stronger now than I."

Perhaps there are some men who love more than they ever say:
He does not show his feelings, but that may not be his way.
Why, how foolishly I'm talking, when I know he's good and kind!
But we women always ask too much; more than we ever find.

My slippers, Miriam! No, not those; bring me the easy pair.
I surely heard the door below; I hear him on the stair!
There comes the old, sharp pain again, that almost makes me frown;
And it seems to me I always cough when I try to keep it down.

Ah, Arthur! take this chair of mine; I feel so well and strong;
Besides, I am getting tired of it -- I've sat here all day long.
Poor dear! you work so hard for me, and I'm so useless, too!
A trouble to myself, and, worse, a trouble now to you.

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