Tuesday, 1 April 2014

To My Daughter

19:32:00 Posted by Damp incendiary device , , , , , , , 1 comment


To My Daughter On Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage
By Anne Hunter

Dear to my heart as life’s warm stream
   Which animates this mortal clay,
For thee I court the waking dream,
   And deck with smiles the future day;
And thus beguile the present pain
With hopes that we shall meet again.


Yet, will it be as when the past
   Twined every joy, and care, and thought,
And o’er our minds one mantle cast
   Of kind affections finely wrought?
Ah no! the groundless hope were vain,
For so we ne’er can meet again!


May he who claims thy tender heart
   Deserve its love, as I have done!
For, kind and gentle as thou art,
   If so beloved, thou art fairly won.
Bright may the sacred torch remain,
And cheer thee till we meet again!

Poetry ought to be collected, like soft pillows, about oneself.  You never know which one you will require at a given moment, but it’s safer to keep them all around – so that they can lift or support you when the moment is right.  

This poem by Anne Hunter chimes with me at the moment.  No, my daughter isn’t marrying but she is a young woman now and is soon to turn sixteen.  It’s the first of a series of customary coming of age markers which reveal that she now able to smoke (or continue to berate others for doing so), play the lottery (or keep her pounds to spend on pretty things) and even marry (or the modern, less expensive equivalent).  

I find it difficult to express the closeness of my relationship with my daughter but these lines rang true:

For thee I court the waking dream,
   And deck with smiles the future day; 

The image of decking a day with smiles makes me think of all the times, as a mother, you feel tired or gloomy but are able to put those feelings away, instead igniting the warmth of a home fire for your children.  That fire would be impossible without them.  It’s the reciprocation which enables the flames.  Their enthusiasm and guileless honesty inspires in you the effort to mirror that openness to a ‘waking dream’ in which anything is possible and goodness is present in abundance.

And o’er our minds one mantle cast
   Of kind affections finely wrought?

Hunter clearly felt this same closeness to her daughter, which feels so different to any other relationship.  The mantle is present when we are alone, giggling, exchanging shared observations and memories, jumping to the same conclusion simultaneously and finishing each other’s sentences.  In those moments, we are as one mind, with absolute affection for each other, knowing that we will be there for each other whatever the storms beyond that mantle; that this cloak of affection protects us to some considerable measure from anything the outside world might throw at us.

Bright may the sacred torch remain,
And cheer thee till we meet again!

But daughters do leave the home.  Perhaps not to marry, perhaps to study or to work.  That is, after all, the reason for our mothering efforts.  We want them to thrive beyond the mantle.  So we feed the torch while they are so close, knowing that it will continue to shine for them wherever they travel.  Knowing that, should it start to dim, they can always return to replenish that flame.  And when my daughter comes home, from wherever she travels, she will reignite my torch too.  And we’ll deck our days with smiles whenever we think of each other.


http://www.johnwilliamwaterhouse.com/pictures/gather-ye-rosebuds-1909/
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1 comments:

Adele said...

So close to me and yet so far from the cudding, loving girl child who filled my days with reason, even when there was none.
She now shares her life with Sam who is lovely too.

Thank you Vicky for showing me that my feelings are shared by other mothers. To those who have little ones, please store up every precious smile. They have to last a lifetime.