Maidenhood "Standing With Reluctant Feet, Where The Brook And River Meet"
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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"Standing With Reluctant Feet, Where The Brook And River Meet"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Longfellow addresses a young girl on the verge of womanhood. He gives her advice about the mysterious world she is about to enter: "Then why pause with indecision,/ When bright angels in thy vision/ Beckon thee to fields Elysian?" But "Life hath quicksands,–Life hath snares!/ Care and age come unawares!" But a pure and joyous heart ("the dew of youth") can overcome life's "sorrow, wrong, and ruth." The girl shall have a happy life, for she is "a smile of God." The poet evokes the girl's situation:

Maiden! with the meek, brown eyes,
In whose orbs a shadow lies
Like the dusk in evening skies!
Thou whose locks outshine the sun,
Golden tresses, wreathed in one,
As the braided streamlets run!
Standing, with reluctant feet,
Where the brook and river meet,
Womanhood and childhood fleet!