October 24, 2011

Chopin: the voice and the dream

Though best known as the author of the feminist novel The Awakening, Kate Chopin wrote many other works. The Louisiana writer, perhaps most surprisingly, also wrote several poems. One, "By the Meadow Gate," is dated October 24, 1898, and slyly questions the expected roles of male/female:

Over the hill and across the ford and down by the meadow gate
A girl is asleep in the long, cool grass.
The soft winds blow and the soft winds pass;
The birds call: "awake!" but they do not stay
While the maid is dreaming the time away
           By the meadow gate

Over the hill and across the ford and down by the meadow gate
A youth with the light of the boundless skies
A glow in his soul and a flame in his eyes,
Follows a voice that is never still,
Trading the path to the distant hill
           By the meadow gate

Over the hill and across the ford and down by the meadow gate
The voice and the dream are near — so near,
That if he but listened his heart might hear.
Now he may follow the years and afar,
He may walk from the world to the evening star
           Past the meadow gate.

Over the hill and across the ford and down by the meadow gate
May her days be many, her days be few,
The dream of the maiden will never come true.
For the soft wind carried the moment away,
And the birds they sang, but they would not stay
           By the meadow gate.

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