An Old Fan

A woman looks back with sadness upon her youth in this Victorian poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox from Poems of Pleasure, 1888. Illustrated with a vintage engraving from a 19th century fashion magazine that you can use as royalty-free clip art.

Vintage Illustration of Victorian Woman Wearing Hat with Fan

Originally published in 1877, Illustration of Woman in Fancy Hat with Fan.

An Old Fan

It is soiled and quite passé,
Broken too, and out of fashion,
But it stirs my heart some way,
As I hold it here to-day,
With a dead year’s grace and passion.
Oh, my pretty fan!

Precious dream and thrilling strain,
Rise up from that vanished season;
Back to heart and nerve and brain
Sweeps the joy as keen as pain,
Joy that asks no cause or reason.
Oh, my dainty fan!

Hopes that perished in a night
Gaze at me like spectral faces;
Grim despair and lost delight,
Sorrow long since gone from sight—
All are hiding in these laces.
Oh, my broken fan!

Let us lay the thing away—
I am sadder now and older;
Fled the ball-room and the play—
You have had your foolish day,
And the night and life are colder.
Exit—little fan!

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Poems of Pleasure, 1888