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.
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.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Poems of Pleasure, 1888