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Villette
Helen Cooper, Charlotte Brontë
Parade's End (Vintage Classics)
Ford Madox Ford
Lasting: Poems on Aging - Meg Files This is a wonderful collection, but I can only read a bit at a time. Who wants to contemplate aging more than that?Here's a taste:A Postmortem GuideFor my eulogist, in advanceDo not praise me for my exceptional serenity.Can't you see I've turned awayfrom the large excitements,and have accepted all the troubles?Go down to the old cemetery; you'll seethere's nothing definitive to be said.The dead once were all kinds—boundary breakers and scalawags,martyrs of the flesh, and so manydumb bunnies of duty, unbearably nice.I've been a little of each.And, please, resist the temptationof speaking about virtue.The seldom-tempted are too fondof that word, the small-spirited, the unburdened.Know that I've admired in othersonly the fraught strainingto be good.Adam's my man and Eve's not to blame.He bit in; it made no sense to stop.Still, for accuracy's sake you might sayI often stopped,that I rarely went as far as I dreamed.And since you know my hardships,understand they're mere bump and setbackagainst history's horror.Remind those seated, perhaps weeping,how obscene it isfor some of us to complain.Tell them I had second chances.I knew joy.I was burned by books earlyand kept sidling up to the flame.Tell them that at the end I had no needfor God, who'd become just a storyI once loved, one of manywith concealments and late-night rescues,high sentence and pomp. The truth isI learned to live without hopeas well as I could, almost happily,in the despoiled and radiant snow.You who are one of them, say that I lovedmy companions most of all.In all sincerity, say they provideda better way to be alone. -- Stephen Dunn