[Editor: This poem by Agnes Neale was published in Shadows and Sunbeams (1890).]
Fame and Women.
Could ever fame be all to me,
Or fill my soul with joy and peace?
Its laurels satisfy my heart,
Or bid its restless longing cease?
Perhaps it might if I could find
For every loving thought a grave;
Could kill my heart or drown my soul
’Neath fabled Lethe’s dreamless wave.
But never until then will fame
Hold all of good my heart desires;
As well might one expect to feed
With floods of water Etna’s fires.
Nay, give me love — one gentle word,
One touch from lips that love me well,
Would make my heart like glad birds sing,
My soul with purest rapture swell.
Without this, life were dark to me —
I care not what it hold beside;
But having this my heart were bright,
My spirit glad whate’er betide.
Feed flame with oil, give rain to flowers,
Give each grass-blade its dewdrop rare;
But oh! to woman’s heart give love —
That only fills the longing there.
Aye, give me wealth, or fame or power,
All good with which life can be blest;
But from my heart earth’s holiest gift
Keep, and I care not for the rest.
Agnes Neale, Shadows and Sunbeams, Adelaide: Burden & Bonython, 1890, pages 90-91
aye = yes (may also be used to express agreement, assent, or the acceptance of an order)
blest = (archaic) blessed
Lethe = in Greek mythology, Lethe was the river of forgetfulness, one of the five rivers in Hades; Lethe can also refer to an alcoholic drink, or a condition of forgetfulness or oblivion
’neath = beneath
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