Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AGED NINETY YEARS, by WILBERT SNOW

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AGED NINETY YEARS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The loneliness of her old age flashed clear
Last Line: Would sink, like her, in chilly arms of earth.
Alternate Author Name(s): Snow, Charles Wilber
Subject(s): Graves; Old Age; Solitude; Tombs; Tombstones; Loneliness

The loneliness of her old age flashed clear
The day her body took its pilgrimage
Out of the little house where she had lived
Into the sunless house of brick-red dust.

The darkened room was empty, save for ghosts
Of those she loved who hovered near the place,
Unseen but felt, trying familiar chairs.

Impassioned grief for those who die in youth,
The grief that holds the village in a mood
As spellbound as a frozen Arctic river,
Was absent here; and only vague relief,
Mingled with tenderness like that which flows
From soft wet mornings after autumn rains --
Relief of water-lilies in a bowl --
Entered the quiet room where thin white hands
Were folded long and limp across her breast.

No throng of people followed to the grave,
A handful merely, these not friends of hers,
But of a daughter who watched over her
Throughout her failing years and closed her eyes,
Wishing perhaps a score of times the end
Might hasten on for respite to them both.

Within the half-forgotten ancient plot
The choking weeds and cemetery moss
Were blotting out the old New England names --
Seth, Adoniram, Hepzibah, Desire --
And curtaining the broken marble slabs,
As her stern faith had dimmed the marble tones
Of life beneath a Puritanic gray.

Leaving the last grave in the double lot,
They turned their faces toward the flaming west
And felt the spirit of the autumn sunset
Put gently out its hand to push away
The spectre of oblivion whose shade
Was stalking through these gray neglected slabs;
Foreshadowing like a winter night the hour
In which the proudest plinth the yard could boast
Would sink, like her, in chilly arms of earth.

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