James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

February 13

Only a Woman’s Hair

By James Ashcroft Noble (1844–1896)

  • “Only a woman’s hair.”—Swift.
  • It was stated that after Richard Wagner’s death, Feb. 13, 1883, his wife cut off her beautiful hair which he had so admired and placed it in a red cushion under his head in his coffin.

  • “ONLY a women’s hair!” We may not guess

    If ’twere a mocking sneer or the sharp cry

    Of a great heart’s o’ermastering agony

    That spake in these four words. Nevertheless,

    One thing we know—that the long clinging tress

    Had lived with Stella’s life in days gone by,

    And, she being dead, lived on to testify

    Of love’s victorious everlastingness.

    Such love, O mute musician, doth provide

    For thy dear head’s repose a pillow rare:

    With red of heart’s blood is the covering dyed,

    And underneath—canst thou not feel it there?—

    The rippling wavy wealth that was thy pride,

    Now love’s last gift—only a woman’s hair!