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.
 
341. Songs of the Coast-Dwellers
 
Song of Whip-Plaiting
 
By Constance Lindsay Skinner
 
 
IN the dawn I gathered cedar-boughs
For the plaiting of thy whip.
They were wet with sweet drops;
They still thought of the night.
 
All alone I shredded cedar-boughs,        5
Green boughs in the pale light,
Where the morning meets the sea,
And the great mountain stops.
 
Earth was very still.
 
I heard no sound but the whisper of my knife,        10
My black flint knife.
It whispered among the white strands of the cedar,
Whispered in parting the sweet cords for thy whip.
O sweet-smelling juice of cedar—
Life-ooze of love!        15
My knife drips:
Its whisper is the only sound in all the world!
 
Finer than young sea-lions’ hairs
Are my cedar-strands:
They are fine as little roots deep down.        20
(O little roots of cedar
Far, far under the bosom of Tsa-Kumts!—
They have plaited her through with love.)
Now, into my love-gift
Closely, strongly, I will weave them—        25
Little strands of pain!
Since I saw thee
Standing with thy torch in my doorway,
Their little roots are deep in me.
 
In the dawn I gathered cedar-boughs:        30
Sweet, sweet was their odor,
They were wet with tears—
The sweetness will not leave my hands,
No, not in salt sea-washings:
Tears will not wash away sweetness.        35
I shall have sweet hands for thy service.
 
(Ah—sometimes—thou wilt be gentle?
Little roots of pain are deep, deep in me
Since I saw thee standing in my doorway.)
 
I have quenched thy torch—        40
I have plaited thy whip.
I am thy Woman!
 

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