A Failure

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A Failure
by Edith Wharton
April 1880

I MEANT to be so strong and true!
The world may smile and question, When?
But what I might have been to you
I cannot be to other men.
Just one in twenty to the rest,
And all in all to you alone, --
This was my dream; perchance 'tis best
That this, like other dreams, is flown.
 

For you I should have been so kind,
So prompt my spirit to control,
To win fresh vigor for my mind,
And purer beauties for my soul;
Beneath your eye I might have grown
To that divine, ideal height,
Which, mating wholly with your own,
Our equal spirits should unite.

To others I am less than naught;
To you I might have been so much,
Could but your calm, discerning thought
Have put my powers to the touch!
Your love had made me doubly fair;
Your wisdom made me thrice as wise,
Lent clearer lustre to my hair,
And read new meanings in my eyes.
 

Ah, yes, to you I might have been
That happy being, past recall,
The slave, the helpmeet, and the queen, --
All these in one, and one in all.
But that which I had dreamed to do
I learned too late was dreamed in vain,
For what I might have been to you
I cannot be to other men.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1937, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.