Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > The New Poetry: An Anthology
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  The New Poetry: An Anthology.  1917.
 
409. Our Lady of Idleness
 
By Florence Wilkinson
 
 
    THEY in the darkness gather and ask
    Her name, the mistress of their endless task.
 
The Toilers
    Tinsel-makers in factory gloom,
    Miners in ethylene pits,
    Divers and druggists mixing poisonous bloom;        5
 
    Huge hunters, men of brawn,
    Half-naked creatures of the tropics,
    Furred trappers stealing forth at Labrador dawn;
 
    Catchers of beetles, sheep-men in bleak sheds,
    Pearl-fishers perched on Indian coasts,        10
    Children in stifling towers pulling threads;
 
    Dark bunchy women pricking intricate laces,
    Myopic jewelers’ apprentices,
    Arabs who chase the long-legged birds in sandy places:
 
    They are her invisible slaves,        15
    The genii of her costly wishes,
    Climbing, descending, running under waves.
 
    They strip earth’s dimmest cell,
    They burn and drown and stifle
    To build her inconceivable and fragile shell.        20
 
The Artist-Artisans
    They have painted a miracle-shawl
    Of cobwebs and whispering shadows,
    And trellised leaves that ripple on a wall.
 
    They have broidered a tissue of cost,
    Spun foam of the sea        25
    And lilied imagery of the vanishing frost.
 
    Her floating skirts have run
    Like iridescent marshes,
    Or like the tossed hair of a stormy sun.
 
    Her silver cloak has shone        30
    Blue as a mummy’s beads,
    Green as the ice-glints of an Arctic zone.
.    .    .    .    .    .
 
    She is weary and has lain
    At last her body down.
    What, with her clothing’s beauty, they have slain!        35
 
The Angel With the Sword
    Come, brothers, let us lift
    Her pitiful body on high,
    Her tight-shut hands that take to heaven no gift
 
    But ashes of costly things.
    We seven archangels will        40
    Bear her in silence on our flame-tipped wings.
 
The Toilers
    Lo, she is thinner than fire
    On a burned mill-town’s edge,
    And smaller than a young child’s dead desire.
 
    Yea, emptier than the wage        45
    Of a spent harlot crying for her beauty,
    And grayer than the mumbling lips of age.
 
A Lost Girl
    White as a drowned one’s feet
    Twined with the wet sea-bracken,
    And naked as a Sin driven from God’s littlest street.        50
 

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