Many a Victorian novelist,
Her books unread, is not missed.
And this goes for lovers who kissed
Within these novels, so ill known.
The heroine is there, alone,
In a double sense, her loneliness not seen
By any reader of these days.
Novelists and characters
Are somewhere on their own,
Unattended by turning pages,
Turned by readers.
The hero is serene,
Unaccompanied. There is no praise,
For there's none to give it. Whatever assuages
The grief of heroine is not found out.
And we know nothing of the lout,
Wealthy and titled, a father meant
The heroine to marry. Absent
Readers might as well be acquiescent.
Unhappy middle, happy ending—
Faugh! it doesn't matter. There's no reader attending.
From The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known #728
(Aesthetic Realism Foundation)
© 1961, 1987 by Eli Siegel