Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
A picture in a newspaper
She has been burning palaces. “To see
The sparks look pretty in the wind?” Well, yes—
And something more. But women brave as she
Leave much for cowards, such as I, to guess.
But this is old, so old that everything
Is ashes here—the woman and the rest.
Two years are—oh! so long. Now you may bring
Some newer pictures. You like this one best?
You wish that you had lived in Paris then?
You would have loved to burn a palace, too?
But they had guns in France, and Christian men
Shot wicked little Communists like you.
You would have burned the palace?—Just because
You did not live in it yourself! Oh! why
Have I not taught you to respect the laws?
You would have burned the palace—would not I?
Would I? Go to your play. Would I, indeed?
I? Does the boy not know my soul to be
Languid and worldly, with a dainty need
For light and music? Yet he questions me.
Can he have seen my soul more near than I?
Ah! in the dusk and distance sweet she seems,
With lips to kiss away a baby’s cry,
Hands fit for flowers, and eyes for tears and dreams.
Can he have seen my soul? And could she wear
Such utter life upon a dying face:
Such unappealing, beautiful despair:
Such garments— soon to be a shroud—with grace?
Has she a charm so calm that it could breathe
In damp, low places till some frightened hour;
Then start, like a fair, subtle snake, and wreathe
A stinging poison with shadowy power?
Would I burn palaces? The child has seen
In this fierce creature of the Commune here,
So bright with bitterness and so serene,
A being finer than my soul, I fear.