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Aline Again

 

While I was editing Vigils, I found an OCR source text online for Candles That Burn, also by Aline Kilmer. This book, published in 1919, was likely written while Joyce was still alive, though much of it may be from when he was off to war.

http://theotherpages.org/poems/books/kilmer/kilmer05.html

This book focuses almost entirely on their children, and on children they lost. Infant and child mortality were especially high in the timeframe of the first world war due to a global influenza pandemic that killed millions.

I don't know the circumstances of the kilmer family, but several of Aline's pieces in this volume are especially poignant:

To a Sick Child

I WOULD make you cookies
But you could not eat them;
I would bring you roses
But you would not care.
In your scornful beauty,
Arrogant and patient,
Though I'd die to please you
You lie silent there.

Your once wanton sister
Creeps about on tiptoe,
And your brother hurries
At your slightest nod:
Watching at your bedside
When you sleep I tremble
Lest before you waken
You go back to God.

And this one:

My Mirror

THERE is a mirror in my room
Less like a mirror than a tomb,
There are so many ghosts that pass
Across the surface of the glass.

When in the morning I arise
With circles round my tired eyes,
Seeking the glass to brush my hair
My mother's mother meets me there.

If in the middle of the day
I happen to go by that way,
I see a smile I used to know--
My mother, twenty years ago.

But when I rise by candlelight
To feed my baby in the night,
Then whitely in the glass I see
My dead child's face look out at me.

But there are lighter notes as well, on her day-to-day life with her children,

Dorothy's Garden

DEAR, in all your garden I have planted yellow lilies,
Dainty yellow lilies everywhere you go:
They are nodding slim and stately down the paths along the hedges,
Delicately stepping they curtsey in a row.

So when you walk among them like a lily in your slim-ness,
With your shining head just bending graciously,
All the little angels that look down upon your garden
Will wonder which is lily and which is Dorothy.

 


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