Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE TRIBUTE: 2, by HILDA DOOLITTLE

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THE TRIBUTE: 2, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: While we shouted our wares
Last Line: The songs withered black on their lips.
Alternate Author Name(s): H. D.; Aldington, Richard, Mrs.
Subject(s): Bible; Poverty; Social Protest

While we shouted our wares
with the swindler and beggar,
our cheap stuffs for the best,
while we cheated and haggled and bettered
each low trick
and railed with the rest --

In a trice squalor failed,
even squalor to cheat
for a voice
caught the sky in one sudden note,
spread grass at the horses' feet,
spread a carpet of scented thyme
and meadow-sweet
till the asses lifted their heads
to the air
with the stifled cattle and sheep.

Ah, squalor was cheated at last
for a bright head flung back,
caught the ash-tree fringe
of the foot-hill,
the violet slope of the hill,
one bright head flung back
stilled the haggling,
one throat bared
and the shouting was still.
Clear, clear --
till our heart's shell was reft
with the shrill notes,
our old hatreds were healed.

Squalor spreads its hideous length
through the carts and the asses' feet,
squalor coils and draws back
and recoils
with no voice to rebuke --
for the boys have gone out of the city,
the songs withered black on their lips.

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