The Singer in the Prison
3 The singer ceas'd, One glance swept from her clear calm eyes o'er all those upturn'd faces, Strange sea of prison faces, a thousand varied, crafty, brutal, seam'd and beauteous faces, Then rising, passing back along the narrow aisle between them, While her gown touch'd them rustling in the silence, She vanish'd with her children in the dusk. While upon all, convicts and armed keepers ere they stirr'd, (Convict forgetting prison, keeper his loaded pistol,) A hush and pause fell down a wondrous minute, With deep half-stifled sobs and sound of bad men bow'd and moved to weeping, And youth's convulsive breathings, memories of home, The mother's voice in lullaby, the sister's care, the happy childhood, The long-pent spirit rous'd to reminiscence; A wondrous minute then—but after in the solitary night, to many, many there, Years after, even in the hour of death, the sad refrain, the tune, the voice, the words, Resumed, the large calm lady walks the narrow aisle, The wailing melody again, the singer in the prison sings, O sight of pity, shame and dole! O fearful thought—a convict soul.
Posted on 16/04/2015, in literature, poetry and tagged 19th Century Poetry, American literature, American poets, Daily Whitman, free verse, Leaves of Grass, literature, poems, poetry, Transcendentalists, Walt Whitman. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.