The Poetry Corner

“Now Let No Charitable Hope”

By Norah Christianson

“Now Let No Charitable Hope” was written in 1922. Wylie expresses her loneliness, and a dissatisfaction at being a woman in the ’20’s. She does not hope to be like the eagle and the antelope—symbols of freedom.

Yet, she implies, she’s had the personality and intelligence to rise above adversity. As she sees the years go by— “outrageous” years, “austere” years— still none of these years has made her afraid, and all have given her cause to smile, both with amusement and (I’ll wager) with irony.

Elinor Wylie was born to a prominent, wealthy family 1885 in New Jersey. She was trained for the life of a debutante and a society wife, but became notorious for her multiple affairs and marriages. After her third marriage, Wylie began spending time in literary circles in New York, where she became famous for her poetry and novels. Wylie died of a stroke at the age of forty-three.

“Now Let No Charitable Hope”

By Elinor Wylie

Now let no charitable hope

Confuse my mind with images

Of eagle and of antelope:

I am by nature none of these.


I was, being human, born alone;

I am, being woman, hard beset;

I live by squeezing from a stone

What little nourishment I get.


In masks outrageous and austere

The years go by in single file;

But none has merited my fear,

And none has quite escaped my smile.


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