Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
The Tired Woman
By Max Michelson
A present-day myth-play

          The Woman
  Messengers of Rest
  Messengers of Light
  Messengers of Beauty
  The Apparition

  Scene: A street of ugly red-brick rooming-houses. It is sunny but clouds are visible. The Woman is walking slowly. Messengers of Rest, clad in dark-grey and carrying a flowered carpet, appear.

First Messenger, spreading the carpet:
            Bend, grains of wool,
            Keep the blows
            Of the sharp earth
            From her tired feet.
Second and third Messengers:
            Curl under,
            Bend halfway,
            Lift them gently,
            Push them softly.
First Messenger:
            As the sea-children at play
            Carry a ship,        10
            As the delicate grass-spirits a bird.

  [They disappear. Messengers of Light, dressed in gleaming greyish white, and riding on silver horses with gold reins, appear. They carry tall urns.]
Messengers of Light, pointing to the cloudy sky:
            Odd-shaped monsters,
            Some with tails and some with wings,
            Pursued us,
            But our gleaming silver horses        15
            Outran them.
            We see them—

  [They pour from the urns something which makes the pieces of wood and stone shine, and then disappear. Messengers of Beauty, clad like wall-painters, and carrying long brushes, appear.]
First and second Messengers of Beauty, painting the walls and sprinkling through the open windows:
            Sorrow and squalor
            Fly, fly away!        20
Third and fourth Messengers of Beauty:
            Spirit of beauty,
            Spirit of youth,
            Blow on tired hearts,
            Breathe on tired eyes.
Fifth, sixth and seventh:
            Pop up from your corners,
            Delicate little joys—
            Peeping joys,
            Sleeping joys.
            Wake up—sleeping lights,
            Sleeping colors!

  [The woman sits down on a bench in a little park which is near. The Apparition comes slowly and sits down on the edge of the bench.]
The Apparition:
            Did I frighten you?
            Shall I go away?
The Woman—in a low voice as if to herself:
            Have I—seen you before?
            Yes … years ago … Where?
The Apparition:
            Years ago…. Yes.
            You were young …
The Woman—dreamily:
            Odorous grasses,
            Trees molten in darkness,
            A mild little wind
            Bounding like a willow,        40
            Like a playful dog …
The Apparition:
            You were—
The Woman—as before:
            I loved him.
            I was not I—I was a spirit.
            I was borne, borne …        45
The Apparition:
            I know. I knew.
            I knew all.
The Woman:
            I think I can remember
            A glimpse of your face
            In the distance … always …        50
The Apparition—enigmatically:
            Half of your kisses
            Were for me.
The Woman:
            For you?  [As if from a trance.]
            I climbed a mountain,
            I waded a thick wood,        55
            Your face always shone before me.
            The butterfly
            I could not catch …
The Apparition:
            And later—in later years—
The Woman:
            In later years—
The Apparition:
            Even when you were with Whiteley
            That night in New York—

  [The Woman screams and hides her face.]
The Apparition:
            Even then
            Your hands reached out to me,        65
            Clutched at me.
The Woman, raising her tear-stained face a little:
            Its wings shone
            Even in the dark…. It was
            Made of light.
The Apparition:
            I kept each thorn
            From going too deep
            In your soul.
            Each shame
            I washed.
            And the pain        75
            I soothed,
            Soothed …

  [The Woman sits long with lowered head softly crying. Then she raises her face, and it beams with a strange proud light. The Apparition walks slowly away.]

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.