Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SCARLET WOMAN, by FENTON JOHNSON

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THE SCARLET WOMAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Once I was good like the virgin mary and the minister's wife
Last Line: Gin is better than all the water in lethe.
Subject(s): African Americans; Prostitution; Negroes; American Blacks; Harlots; Whores; Brothels

Once I was good like the Virgin Mary and the
Minister's wife.
My father worked for Mr. Pullman and white people's
tips; but he died two days after his insurance expired.
I had nothing, so I had to go work.
All the stock I had was a white girl's education and a
face that enchanted the men of both races.
Starvation danced with me.
So when Big Lizzie, who kept a house for white men,
came to me with tales of fortune that I could reap
from the sale of my virtue I bowed my head to Vice.
Now I can drink more gin than any man for miles around.
Gin is better than all the water in Lethe.

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