Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
The Factories
By Margaret Widdemer
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 fine 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 labour-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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