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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Problem

By Charlotte Fiske Bates (1838–1916)

[Born in New York, N. Y., 1838. Died in Cambridge, Mass., 1916. From Risk, and Other Poems. 1879.]

TWO parted long, and yearning long to meet,

Within an hour the life of months repeat;

Then come to silence, as if each had poured

Into the other’s keeping all his hoard.

And when the lip seems drained of all its store,

Each inly wonders why he says no more.

Why, since they meet, does mutual need seem small,

And what avails the presence after all?

Though silent thought with those we love is sweet,

The heart finds every meeting incomplete;

And with the dearest there must sometimes be

The wide and lonely silence of the sea.