Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A LADY, by EDGAR LEE MASTERS



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A LADY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: She sleeps beneath a canopy of carnation silk
Last Line: And the weariness of futile flesh!
Subject(s): God; Women


She sleeps beneath a canopy of carnation silk,
Embroidered with Venetian lace.
Between the linens that crush in the hand
Soft as down.
Walking, she looks through a window
Curtained with carnation silk,
Embroidered with Venetian lace.
The walls are hung with velvet
Embossed with a fleur de lis,
And around her is a silence of richness,
Where foot-falls are like exhalations
From carpets of moss.
Little clocks tinkle.
Medallions priceless as jewels
Lie by jars suspiring like coals of fire.
And a maid prepares the bath,
Tincturing delicious water with exquisite essences.
And she is served with coffee
In cups as thin as petals,
Sitting amid pillows that breathe
The souls of friezia!

All things are hers:
Fishes from all seas,
Fruits from all climes.
The city lies at her command,
And is summoned by buttons
Which are pressed by her.
Noiselessly feet move on many floors,
Serving her.
Wheels that turn under coaches
Of crystal and ebony,
And yachts dreaming in strange waters,
And wings -- all are hers!
And she is free:
Her husband comes and goes
From his suite below hers.
She never sees him,
Nor knows his ways, nor his days.
But she is very weary
And all alone amid her servants,
And guests that come and go.
Her lips are red,
Her skin is soft and smooth --
But the page blurs before her eyes.
Her eyelids are languid,
And droop from weariness,
Tho she will not rest
From the long pursuit of love!
Her hair is white;
The skin of her faultless neck
Edges in creases
As she turns her perfect head.
And the days dawn and die.
What day that dawns will bring her love?
And day by day she waits for the dawn
Of a new life, a great love!
But every morning brings its remembrance
Of the increasing years that are gone.
And every evening brings its fear
Of death which must come,
Until her nerves are shaken
Like a woman's hair in the wind --
What must be done?
Someone tells her that God is love.
And when the fears come
She says to self over and over,
"God is love! God is love!
All is well."
And she wins a little oblivion,
Through saying, "God is love,"
From the truth in her heart which cries:
"Love is life,
Love is a lover,
And love is God!"
She is a flower
Which the spring has nourished,
And the summer exhausted,
Fall is at hand.
Weird zephyrs stir her leaves and blossoms;
And she says to herself, "It is not fall,
For God is love!"

My poor flower!
May this therapy ease you into sleep,
And the folding of jewelless hands!
You are beginning to be sick
Of the incurable disease of age
And the weariness of futile flesh!





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