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THE SAVING WAY, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: When the little girl was told that the sun someday
Last Line: To invent our lives from these rich hours of woe?
Subject(s): Dramatists; Girls; Jews; Plays & Playwrights ; Poetry & Poets; Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); Judaism; Dramatists

When the little girl was told that the sun someday,
In a billion years or a trillion, will burn out dead,
She sobbed in a fierce and ancient way
And stamped and shook her head

Till the brown curls flew; and I wondered how,
Given the world, given her place and time,
She should ever come in her own right mind to know
That it all may happen one day before her prime,

The lights go out in one crude burst
Or slowly, winking across the cold,
The last and worst
That the old time's craziest prophet had foretold;

And I wondered also how she shall come to find
The town whose monuments
Are the rusty barbed wire rattling in the wind
And the shredding tents

And the street where the bodies crawl
Forever and ever, our broken dead
Who arise again, and again and always fall
For a word that someone said,

Or how she shall seek the plundered isles
Adrift on the smoking seas,
Or the desert bloodied for miles and miles,
Or the privacies

Of Jews laid out in a snowy woods,
Black men laid in the swamp,
All in their sorrowing attitudes
Of inquiry; or how when the wind is damp

She shall come someday to the marble square
Where papers blow and her father stands
In idle discourse with a millionaire
Who will rape her later on with his own hands;

And I wondered finally how all this
Will be anything to secure
What she knows now in her child's instinct is
The sole world, immensely precious and impure.

My dear, will you learn the saving way?
And then can we go,
In keen joy like Lear and like Cordelia gay,
To invent our lives from these great days of woe?

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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