Charlotte Mew*

‘When her death was reported in the local Marylebone newspaper, she was casually described as "Charlotte Mew, said to be a writer"'
-- from a memoir by Alida Munro





Charlotte, to-day I walked along streets where you died,

That remote and desolate Spring of nineteen twenty-eight,

With Anne dead, Ma gone, and the other two immured inside

Some asylum still, or dead, but lost to you, all hate

Shadowed and masked and laid away, which ever way it was.



Charlotte, to-day the balustrated houses balanced in pity

Above the chimes of sunlight and waiting ambulances,

And all around, the soft and moulded web of your city

Hung like a shroud of sound, and the pigeons drank

From the gutters, nervously treading the sloping tiles.



Don’t keep me. Let me go, you said,

And I thought of the first sessions

Starting in the clinics, and the bread

For the day’s hunger in the ovens

Of the bakery, and the swirl of wings

Beating around the stained pillars

Of St. Marylebone church, and all the Springs

Which have restored to vogue or memory since then

Wavered and faded and dissolved until I saw you

As you went out alone and bought the disinfectant

Which killed you, Charlotte Mew, said to be a writer.



Don’t keep me. Let me go, you said,

And you lay with your small dead

Face turned to the grey light

On the blank brick wall.



* taken from Elizabeth Bartlett, "A Lifetime of Dying" Poems 1942-1979



Copyright © by Charlotte Mew



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