Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern American Poetry
Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern American Poetry.  1919.
Margaret Widdemer.
125. Factories
I HAVE shut my little sister in from life and light 
  (For a rose, for a ribbon, for a wreath across my hair), 
I have made her restless feet still until the night, 
  Locked from sweets of summer and from wild spring air; 
I who ranged the meadowlands, free from sun to sun,         5
  Free to sing and pull the buds and watch the far wings fly, 
I have bound my sister till her playing time was done— 
  Oh, my little sister, was it I? Was it I? 
I have robbed my sister of her day of maidenhood 
  (For a robe, for a feather, for a trinket's restless spark),  10
Shut from love till dusk shall fall, how shall she know good, 
  How shall she go scatheless through the sin-lit dark? 
I who could be innocent, I who could be gay, 
  I who could have love and mirth before the light went by, 
I have put my sister in her mating-time away—  15
  Sister, my young sister, was it I? Was it I? 
I have robbed my sister of the lips against her breast, 
  (For a coin, for the weaving of my children's lace and lawn), 
Feet that pace beside the loom, hands that cannot rest— 
  How can she know motherhood, whose strength is gone?  20
I who took no heed of her, starved and labor-worn, 
  I, against whose placid heart my sleepy gold-heads lie, 
Round my path they cry to me, little souls unborn— 
  God of Life! Creator! It was I! It was I! 

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