Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
Sisters of the Cross of Shame

By Dana Burnet

(American poet, born 1888)
THE SISTERS of the Cross of Shame,
  They smile along the night;
Their houses stand with shuttered souls
  And painted eyes of light.
Their houses look with scarlet eyes        5
  Upon a world of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
  And every man goes in.
The sober Senate meets at noon,
  To pass the Woman’s Law,        10
The portly Churchmen vote to stem
  The torrent with a straw.
The Sister of the Cross of Shame,
  She smiles beneath her cloud—
(She does not laugh till ten o’clock,        15
  And then she laughs too loud.)
And still she hears the throb of feet
  Upon the scarlet stair,
And still she dons the cloak of shame
  That is not hers to wear.        20
The sons of saintly women come
  To kiss the Cross of Shame;
Before them, in another time,
  Their worthy fathers came.…
And no man tells his son the truth,        25
  Lest he should speak of sin;
And every man cries, “Woe, alas!”
  And every man goes in.

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