A critical analysis of a tender poem of love and death
Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) was a popular poet in her lifetime, and was admired by fellow poets Ezra Pound and Thomas Hardy, among others; the latter helped to secure a Civil List pension for Mew in 1923. ‘A Quoi Bon Dire’ was published in Charlotte Mew’s 1916 volume The Farmer’s Bride. The French title of this poem, ‘A Quoi Bon Dire’, translates as ‘what good is there to say’. And what good is there to say about this short poem? We think it’s a beautiful example of early twentieth-century lyricism, and so below we’ve shared the poem, along with a short analysis of it.
Seventeen years ago you said
Something that sounded like Good-bye;
And everybody thinks that you are dead,
So I, as I grow stiff and cold
To this and that say Good-bye too;
And everybody sees that I am old