"And nothing left for Love to look upon".
So wrote Thomas Hardy in his poem "She, To Him" Part 111.
Time has robbed the woman speaking in this poem. She has grown old and lost her claim to the attentions of men. The "witchery" that charmed is gone. Hers is the fate of women whose currency, whose capital, is their face and figure.
This, and several other poems came to mind when I saw the stories and photos of the actress Renee Zellweiger, who had such radical plastic surgery that she now looks like someone headed into Witness Protection. Trying to stay youthful to stay employable, she has now achieved neither. Had she accepted the inevitable, she might have become a character actress. Instead she can join the dozens of actresses of indeterminate age who compete to play district attorneys and coroners on TV crime shows.
Growing old is a pain to any woman. Here is the poet Louise Bogan. The poem is "The Crows"., and these are the first two stanzas.
"The woman who has grown old
And knows desire must die
Yet turns to love again
Hears the crows' cry.
She is a stem long hardened
A weed that no scythe mows
The heart's laughter will be to her
The crying of the crows,"
Robert Frost is no more cheerful, and in his poem "Provide, Provide", describes the afflictions of aging for both men and women-
"The witch that came(the withered hag)
To wash the steps with pail and rag
Was once the beauty Abishag.
The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
For you to doubt the likelihood."
The fall may not be so steep for those of us more ordinary,who have been spared celebrity or flagrant romance in our youth. The best we can say about our looks is they never counted for much, yet we got by without them.
At 64, I care little for how my face and neck look or that I am a size 14 aiming for a 16. I am happy that I can still walk and see and work.
Youth was a mask, and I am glad to have it off.
Now if I could just get rid of the pain in my hip that comes when I sit down to write.
But having no illusions, I will just have to endure it, and count my blessings-