Daily Whitman

Wood Lathe

Song of the Broad-Axe

  The shapes arise!
  The shape measur'd, saw'd, jack'd, join'd, stain'd,
  The coffin-shape for the dead to lie within in his shroud,
  The shape got out in posts, in the bedstead posts, in the posts of
      the bride's bed,
  The shape of the little trough, the shape of the rockers beneath,
      the shape of the babe's cradle,
  The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for dancers' feet,
  The shape of the planks of the family home, the home of the friendly
      parents and children,
  The shape of the roof of the home of the happy young man and
      woman, the roof over the well-married young man and woman,
  The roof over the supper joyously cook'd by the chaste wife, and joyously
      eaten by the chaste husband, content after his day's work.

  The shapes arise!
  The shape of the prisoner's place in the court-room, and of him or
      her seated in the place,
  The shape of the liquor-bar lean'd against by the young rum-drinker
      and the old rum-drinker,
  The shape of the shamed and angry stairs trod by sneaking foot- steps,
  The shape of the sly settee, and the adulterous unwholesome couple,
  The shape of the gambling-board with its devilish winnings and losings,
  The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted and sentenced
      murderer, the murderer with haggard face and pinion'd arms,
  The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and white-lipp'd
      crowd, the dangling of the rope.

  The shapes arise!
  Shapes of doors giving many exits and entrances,
  The door passing the dissever'd friend flush'd and in haste,
  The door that admits good news and bad news,
  The door whence the son left home confident and puff'd up,
  The door he enter'd again from a long and scandalous absence,
      diseas'd, broken down, without innocence, without means.

Posted on 05/10/2014, in literature, poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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