Additional Poems by Lucia Trent
from Children of Fire and Shadow (1929)
A White Woman Speaks
(Lines written concerning an actual incident,
where a Negro, who had been acquitted by the court,
was taken by the mob and shot to death.)
So the law's agents left you to the throng;
You, whom the Court found innocent of wrong;
You, who could only stare and only sob;
They gave you over to that bawling mob,
Who shot at you like bullies from the back,
Because--poor devil--yes, your skin was black!
I do not pity you, my friend, who go
To sudden solitude of those who know
Only the ancient silences of death,
Who hear no more the feet of rain, the breath
Of low waves folding on the April seas,
But, O! deep in my heart I pity these
Poor human blunderers who have to-night
Made me, God knows, ashamed of being white!
THEY LIVE ALONE
They live alone within a wood,
Sharing the ancient brotherhood
Of wind and tree, of cloud and brook,
For them earth is a well-read book.
But, isolate upon their hill,
They have forgotten belching mill
And factories where bosses grind
The stooping forms of humankind.
Their ears are deaf to those who speak
Brave words of justice for the weak,
Their spirits have become immune
To the challenge of life's battle-tune!
On blue-bird wing and goldenrod
They find the finger-prints of God,
But crouched within their narrow span,
They never find the God in man.
I have grown weary of these stunted trees,
The irritating regularities
Of buildings and the staid and patterned streets
Where small drab houses "set" and where one
Women with baby carriages who chat
Across the snow-patched grass of this or that.
I have grown weary of this ashen sky,
The ominous factory smoke that straggles by,
The grim monotony of lives that pass
Like weak, thin spurts of wind through withered
Banners of Rebellion
Banners of rebellion, surging to the storm,
Rousing men to vision, turning cold blood warm,
Spread your wide wings staunchly to redeeming
That men everywhere may learn the truth you
Banners of rebellion, fringed with human pity,
Travel over farm-land, grazing-land and city.
Shower rays of courage on the folk who toil,
Quicken seeds of tumult in the arid soil.
Hearten those who stifle in a prison den,
Seal a swift compassion on the tongues of men.
Let false rulers tremble on pinnacles of ease
When they see the new dawn flaming from the
Though our feet may falter before the light
Banners of rebellion, we shall march with you!
from Thank You, America! (1937)
The names of lovely women drift tonight
Like swans upon an ebony lagoon:
Cordelia, Iseult, tragical and white,
And Deidre dreaming under Celtic moon,
The pale Ligeia, Dido and Lenore,
Ophelia singing with such bewildered breath,
Imperial Helen upon an alien shore
Plunging her warriors into early death,
Laura and Beatrice and Guinevere
And yet I think the loveliest of all,
Mary the Mother, tenderly austere,
Who croons within a humble cattle stall.
He had known languishing women with eyes
That looked upon blue, Riviera skies
And pekinese and Paris frocks.
He had known women who looked on kitchen clocks
And aprons and clean beds,
Women one weds.
But this woman was like none of these.
She had a rapier mind to seize
Advantage, quick in thrust and parry,
And she had lips to marry
His own mouth mad with the sight of her.
Here was a woman not as others were:
Things for a man's delight, brief toys to catch,
To fondle for an hour. Here was his match!
Quicksilver brain to brain,
Temper to temper, arrowing pain.
For once he could not be the buyer.
He must be singed by the beautiful fire
Of the one woman whose spirit he could not span.
Here was a woman mate for a man.
The gas flame sputtered
Shadows on the wall
As bare as any
Her face was pale
As mist upon a hill.
Curiously inert she lay
As any marble bust
And cool --
A stern madonna
Of an early school.
He clothed himself
With readily sated air.
"I guess these bucks
Will pay your railroad fare."
And still she lay
As rigid as before
And watched him vanish
Through the shadowed door.
* * *
The weeks passed by.
Then she was wed
To her homespun
And she alone
Today is wise
How her laughing daughter
Has a stranger's eyes.
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