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Too Late
Alfred Austin


Had you but shown me living what you show,
Now I am gone, to keep my grave-plot green,
And I but known what vainly now I know,
Lying here alone, how happy had I been!
If you with smiles had gladdened our joint home,
As now you drench my tenement with tears,
Up life's ascent together had we clomb,
And traversed hand-in-hand the slope of years.
Still is it solacing to feel you lay
Upon my sepulchre devoted flowers,
When hitherward you wend your widowed way
'Neath scorching sunshine or through drifting showers.
Pity that love is ofttimes forced by Fate,
In this unpunctual World, to come--too late!

This poem is in the public domain.



At his parents’ insistence, British poet Alfred Austin (1835 – 1913) became a lawyer (a barrister, in English terms), but the moment his father died and the young man’s inheritance was in hand, he turned his back on law and pursued his true passion: poetry. Both critics and public opinion rate Austin as a mediocre poet, at best, but it was his arrogance and penchant for trashing his more successful peers--established poets such as Robert Browning and Alfred Lord Tennyson—that made him the subject of many jokes in the literary circles of his day. Austin had the last laugh, however, as he managed to become England’s poet laureate after Tennyson died, when no other poet was willing or deemed worthy to take the position.


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