Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. I SAW A FAIR HOUSE, by EDWARD CARPENTER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. I SAW A FAIR HOUSE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I saw a fair house standing in a garden, but no one moved about it
Last Line: Others a sound of weeping.
Subject(s): Grief; Houses; Selfishness; Solitude; Women - Secluding; Sorrow; Sadness; Loneliness

I SAW a fair house standing in a garden, but no one moved about it;
And I said to some who stood by, Who is the owner or dweller here?
And they said, We know not. Sometimes we see a form at a window, but it is
for a moment only, and then it is gone.

Then I went up to the door of the house, and turned the handle very softly,
and went in.
And the house was like a place deserted, yet was there a kind of order as
if it might be used; and the tables were laid with victuals, and there was no
lack of necessaries or of comforts;
And servants passed along the corridors; so I asked one of them, Where is
the mistress of your house?
And he said, I know not.

Then I went on again, and passed softly through many rooms, and peeped into
And at last in a far chamber I came upon the figure of a woman, alone, and
seated on a chair, with her head on her knees, and buried in her hands;
And I said, Are you the mistress of this house?
And when she lifted her face I saw it was very beautiful, and her eyes were
glorious as the eyes of Love himself, but they were stained with weeping.
And she said, This is not my house, it is my prison.
And I said, Are not these servants here to minister to you?
She answered, Yes—but what is that if they are only here to minister
to me?
But these rooms, I said, and well-set tables?
Yes—but what is that if they are only swept and garnished for me?
And this garden, and the fair outlook from it?
Yes—but since I may not even go my own errands beyond the gate?
And I said, How is that?
And she answered, Indeed I long to go down into the world, but I may not;
no sooner do I show the face of Love than I am execrated as one forbidden and an
outcast. For in this city so long as one remains within one's house one may do
there what meanness and selfishness one will, provided one keeps fair the front
of the house; but to go forth openly and share one's life and the gladness of
life with others, that is not permitted.

And I said, It is a strange city.
And I went out and walked through the streets; but gloom and sadness
reigned, and only in some houses the noise of feasting and debauchery, and in
others a sound of weeping.

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