Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SONG OF THE UGLY MAIDEN, by ELIZA COOK



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SONG OF THE UGLY MAIDEN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Oh! The world gives little of love or light
Last Line: Had served to set the stamp on cain.
Subject(s): Ugliness


Oh! the world gives little of love or light,
Though my spirit pants for much;
For I have no beauty for the sight,
No riches for the touch.
I hear men sing o'er the flowing cup
Of woman's magic spell;
And vows of zeal they offer up,
And eloquent tales they tell.
They bravely swear to guard the fair
With strong, protecting arms;
But will they worship woman's worth
Unblent with woman's charms?
No! ah, no! 'tis little they prize
Crook'd-back'd forms and rayless eyes.

Oh! 'tis a bitter thing to be
A poor and ugly one;
In the sand Time puts in his glass for me
Few golden atoms run.
For my drawn lids bear no shadowing fringe,
My locks are thin and dry,
My teeth wear not the rich pearl tinge,
Nor my lips the henna dye.
I know full well I have nought of grace
That maketh woman "divine;"
The wooer's praise and doting gaze
Have never yet been mine.
Where'er I go all eyes will shun
The loveless mein of the ugly one.

I join the crowd where merry feet
Keep pace with the merry strain;
I note the earnest words that greet
The fair ones in the train.
The stripling youth has pass'd me by,
He leads another out;
She has a light and laughing eye,
Like sunshine playing about.
The wise man scanneth calmly round,
But his gaze stops not with me;
It hath fixed on a head whose curls unbound,
Are bright as curls can be;
And he watches her through the winding dance
With smiling care and tender glance.

The gay cavalier has thrust me aside,
Whom does he hurry to seek?
One with a curving lip of pride,
And a forehead broad and sleek.
The grey-haired veteran -- young with wine,
Would head the dance once more;
He looks for a hand, but passes mine,
As all have passed before.
The pale, scarr'd face may sit alone,
The unsightly brow may mope;
There cometh no tongue with winning tone
To flatter affection's hope.
Oh, Ugliness! thy desolate pain
Had served to set the stamp on Cain.

My quick brain hears the thoughtless jeers
That are whispered with laughing grin;
As though I had fashioned my own dull orbs,
And chosen my own seared skin.
Who shall dream of the withering pang,
As I find myself forlorn;
Sitting apart, with saddened heart,
'Mid cold neglect and scorn?
I could be glad as others are,
For my soul is young and warm;
And kind it had been to darken and mar
My feelings with my form.
For fondly and strong as my spirit may yearn,
It gains no sweet love in return.

Man, just man, I know thine eye
Delighteth to dwell on those
Whose tresses shade, with curl or braid,
Cheeks soft and round as the rose.
I know thou wilt ever gladly turn
To the beautiful and bright;
But is it well that thou shouldst spurn
The one GOD chose to blight?
Oh! why shouldst thou trace my shrinking face
With coarse deriding jest?
Oh! why forget that a charmless brow
May abide with a gentle breast?
Oh! why forget that gold is found
Hidden beneath the roughest ground?

Would that I had passed away
Ere I knew that I was born;
For I stand in the blessed light of day,
Like a weed among the corn.
The black rock in the wide blue sea --
The snake in the jungle green --
Oh! who will stay in the fearful way
Where such ugly things are seen?
Yet mine is a fate of lonelier state
Than that of the snake or rock;
For those who behold me in their path
Not only shun, but mock.
Oh, Ugliness! thy desolate pain
Had served to set the stamp on Cain.





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