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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Chiffonier
By William Wetmore Story (1819–1895)
 
I AM a poor Chiffonier!
I seek what others cast away!
In refuse-heaps the world throws by,
Despised of man, my trade I ply;
And oft I rake them o’er and o’er,        5
  And fragments broken, stained, and torn,
I gather up, and make my store
  Of things that dogs and beggars scorn.
    I am the poor Chiffonier!
 
You see me in the dead of night        10
Peering along with pick and light,
And while the world in darkness sleeps,
Waking to rake its refuse-heaps:
I scare the dogs that round them prowl,
  And light amid the rubbish throw:        15
For precious things are hid by foul,
  Where least we heed and least we know.
    I am the poor Chiffonier!
 
No wretched and rejected pile,
No tainted mound of offal vile,        20
No drain or gutter I despise,
For there may lie the richest prize,
And oft amid the litter thrown,
  A silver coin—a golden ring—
Which holdeth still its precious stone,        25
  Some happy chance to me may bring.
    I am the poor Chiffonier!
 
These tattered rags, so soiled and frayed,
Were in a loom of wonder made,
And beautiful and free from shame        30
When from the master’s hand they came.
The reckless world that threw them off
  Now heeds them only to despise;
Yet, ah! despite its jeers and scoff,
  What virtue still within them lies!        35
    I am the poor Chiffonier!
 
Yes! all these shreds so spoiled and torn,
These ruined rags you pass in scorn,
This refuse by the highway tost,
I seek that they may not be lost;        40
And, cleansed from filth that on them lies,
  And purified and purged from stain,
Renewed in beauty they shall rise
  To wear a spotless form again.
    I am the poor Chiffonier!        45
 
 
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