Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, POPPIES, by ALICE CARY



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POPPIES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O ladies, softly fair
Last Line: First gleaned with boaz in among the corn.
Subject(s): Poppies


O LADIES, softly fair,
Who curl and comb your hair,
And deck your dainty bodies, eve and morn,
With pearls, and flowery spray,
And knots of ribbons gay,
As if ye were for idlesse only born:
Hearken to Wisdom's call --
What are ye, after all,
But foolish poppies in among the corn!

Whose lives but parts repeat --
Whose little dancing feet
Swim lightly as the silverly mists of morn:
Whose pretty palms unclose
Like some fresh dewy rose,
For dainty dalliance, not for distaffs born;
Hearken to Wisdom's call --
What are ye, after all,
But flaunting poppies in among the corn!

O women, sad of face,
Whose crowns of girlish grace
Sin has plucked off, and left ye all forlorn --
Whose pleasures do not please --
Whose hearts have no hearts'-ease --
Whose seeming honor is of honor shorn:
Hearken to Wisdom's call --
What are ye, one and all,
But painted poppies in among the corn!

Women, to name whose name
All good men blush for shame,
And bad men even, with the speech of scorn;
Who have nor sacred sight
For Vesta's lamps so white,
Nor hearing for old Triton's wreathed horn:
Oh, hark to Wisdom's call --
What are ye, one and all,
But poison poppies in among the corn!

Women, who will not cease
From toil, nor be at peace
Either at purple eve or yellowing morn,
But drive with pitiless hand,
Your ploughshares through the land
Quick with the lives of daisies yet unborn;
Hearken to Wisdom's call --
What are ye, after all,
But troublous poppies in among the corn!

Blighting with fretful looks
The tender-tasseled stocks --
Sweeping your wide-floored barns with sighs forlorn
About the unfilled grains
And starving hunger-pains
That on the morrow, haply, shall be borne:
Oh, hark to Wisdom's call --
What are ye, after all,
But forward poppies in among the corn!

O virgins, whose pure eyes
Hold commerce with the skies --
Whose lives lament that ever ye were born;
The cross whose joy to wear
Never the rose, but only just the thorn:
Hearken to Wisdom's call --
What are ye, after all,
Better than poppies in among the corn!

What better? who abuse
The gifts wise women use,
With locks sheared off, and bosoms scourged and torn;
Lapping your veils so white
Betwixt ye and the light,
Composed in heaven's sweet cisterns, morn by morn:
Oh, hark to Wisdom's call --
What are ye, after all
Better than poppies in among the corn!

O women, rare and fine,
Whose mouths are red with wine
Of kisses of your children, night and morn,
Whose ways are virtue's ways --
Whose good works are your praise --
Whose hearts hold nothing God has made in scorn:
Though Fame may never call
Your names, ye are, for all,
The Ruths that stand breast-high amid the corn!

Your steadfast love and sure
Makes all beside it poor;
Your cares like royal ornaments are worn;
Wise women! what so sweet,
So queenly, so complete
To name ye by, since ever one was born?
Since she, whom poets call,
The sweetest of you all,
First gleaned with Boaz in among the corn.





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