A Wife’s Lament

V0007474 A very old man, suffering from senility. Colour stipple engr Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A very old man, suffering from senility. Colour stipple engraving by W. Bromley, 1799, after T. Stothard. 1799 By: Thomas Stothardafter: William BromleyPublished: 24 January 1799 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

1799 By: Thomas Stothardafter: William BromleyPublished: 24 January 1799
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons

A Wife’s Lament

I bid the light to linger still, to stay—
for when it’s dark within, no image sits
of you and I, still young, engaged in play—
our minds still sharp, our ever-sparing wits
engaging one another so, as it be-fits
a love that’s born to relish comedy.

But now your mind has failed, your mem’ry flits
from here to there to deepest tragedy,
enshrouding mind and dimming lively eye.
I mourn that mind, once keen, so bright and smart.
I see you thus imprisoned and I cry.
But then you place your head upon my heart,

in nighttime silence, broken by a moan
I cannot hold within—this heart’s not stone.

I’m joining this to dVerse Meeting the Bar where Gayle has us playing with Bout-Rime. The challenge is to write a poem using the given end-rhymes. These are the oncs Gayle has chosen for us: stay, sits, play, wits, flits, comedy, flits, tragedy, eye, smart, cry, heart, moan, stone. You are to use the words in the given order.

While my thoughts went immediately to my dogs, I decided to go with a more serious subject, one I’ve witnessed time and again–that of an elderly couple in which one person (the wife in this case) is caring for a spouse who has dementia.


34 thoughts on “A Wife’s Lament

  1. Kate Mia says:

    Comfort’s touch.. last


  2. 5h2o says:

    So very beautiful, Victoria.


  3. radio head says:

    This is heartbreaking. It’s so painful to realize how bad the latter in “for better or worse” can get. My husband and I always argue about which of our minds will go, first and worst.


  4. lillian says:

    Such a delicately poignant description of this couple as one slips away…dementia of any kind is so very very hard to witness and feel through.


  5. A beautifully sad depiction of the process of aging, Victoria. And slowly the world turns!


  6. Imelda says:

    You captured the sense of loss brought by dementia.


  7. This is simply a lovely picture of the wife’s love of her spouse in spite of his dementia. I would, however, love to see what idea you had to work your dogs into a poem with these words. 🙂 Peace, Linda


  8. I read an article of a daughter tending her father, also bringing up her own daughter and how their minds met going opposite ways. Your poem described it with heart rending clarity.


  9. Truedessa says:

    Truly filled with emotions, loss is felt when the mind fails.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) says:

    Hard for me to read. I know this too well. I admire the writing, all the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Grace says:

    How tragic and sad & my heart goes out to the couple Victoria ~ You have delicately and beautifully told this story ~

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Candy says:

    such sadness and love you’ve captured in this

    Liked by 1 person

  13. hypercryptical says:

    A beautiful compassionate write Victoria. I know this all so well – at home and work. Your words filled me up.
    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    Such an emotive write.. especially touched with the closing couplet.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. ShirleyB says:

    Brilliantly done, Victoria. Technically sharp, full of emotion and a perfect end. Hats off!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bodhirose says:

    It seems that it’s often the wife who ends up being the caretaker of her husband. I imagine there must be many tears. Victoria, you did an amazing job with the words presented, bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Succeed you did indeed, delivering with compassion & intense emotions a message for our peers, & for their offspring; kudos & hugs sent your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. scillagrace says:

    This makes me think of my dad who died of Alzheimer’s 6 years ago today and my mother, full of wit and life, how their younger days were spent engaged in intellectual play (they graduated from Harvard & Radcliffe). I must give Mom a call…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I can relate to the relationship that lives to laugh and your closing line is so touching and true…one cannot hold a facade of stony heart for long. Beautiful work with the form as well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This is so sad and close to my heart.. When life changes we find our life is not of stone. You used the words so well it was undetectable it was a bout rime

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Mary says:

    Oh the sadness she feels looking back at what once was — the sharp mind and the wit now left behind forever!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This is so moving and I find it extraordinary how you have used the words from the prompt in the given order! Very inspiring and seems to also soothe the pain of loss in these relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. kim881 says:

    My mother is in a home with Pick’s disease, a type of Lewy bodies dementia, which I also watched take over (and away) my lovely grandfather and my great grandmother. Your poem made me cry.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. We are going through this now with my M-I-L. So hard… you’ve done a great job of describing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Oh so sad, and yes, we have seen and mourned this situation. That form is so prescriptive that it’s a wonder to me that you succeeded so well with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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