Saturday, August 18, 2007

Valerie Grosvenor Myer


For whatever reason, I've never heard of Valerie Myer until today, and it was only because I was checking out Brian Sibley's blog that I found a brief note about her death, and the following poem. It's the sort of piece older people write in spite of their achievements; there are always more things we wish we could have done. (Getting a tattoo, for instance.)

Sing a Song at Sixty

It is too late alas to learn a musical instrument,

To become a downhill racer on skis or compete at Wimbledon;
I shall never be able to read Dostoevsky in the original.

I have not won any cups for achievement,

And so many things I dreamed of will never happen:
I shall never achieve my own chat show on television,
Or dissolve gracefully into artful tears, clutching my Oscar.


I must reconcile myself to clothing which is

Comfortable rather than glamorous,

And acknowledge that hair dye after sixty is usually a mistake.

I refuse to lament the loss of my beauty and my slender waist,

Instead I will be grateful that I retain my teeth,

More metal than ivory, it must be frankly admitted,

Propped, pinned, posted and padded with plastic,

But I can still eat with them.


I will be glad that that I was not born in the Dark Ages

Before the invention of spectacles. I will not agonize

Over tests I have failed, but will concentrate on remembering

The ones I have passed, and the people who have loved me.


It is futile to lie awake brooding over old animosities.

It is time to forgive one’s parents, and to contemplate the young

Not with envy but with tender concern and generosity,

Betraying no awareness of how vulnerable they are.


- Valerie Grosvenor Myer
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