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In The Cage Post by :copywriter Category :Poems Author :Edgar Lee Masters Date :November 2011 Read :2304

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In The Cage

The sounds of mid-night trickle into the roar
Of morning over the water growing blue.
At ten o'clock the August sunbeams pour
A blinding flood on Michigan Avenue.

But yet the half-drawn shades of bottle green
Leave the recesses of the room
With misty auras drawn around their gloom
Where things lie undistinguished, scarcely seen.

You, standing between the window and the bed
Are edged with rainbow colors. And I lie
Drowsy with quizzical half-open eye
Musing upon the contour of your head,
Watching you comb your hair,
Clothed in a corset waist and skirt of silk,
Tied with white braid above your slender hips
Which reaches to your knees and makes your bare
And delicate legs by contrast white as milk.
And as you toss your head to comb its tresses
They flash upon me like long strips of sand
Between a moonlit sea, pale as your hand,
And a red sun that on a high dune stresses
Its sanguine heat.

And then at times your lips,
Protruding half unconscious half in scorn
Engage my eyes while looking through the morn
At the clear oval of your brow brought full
Over the sovereign largeness of your eyes;
Or at your breasts that shake not as you pull
The comb through stubborn tangles, only rise
Scarcely perceptible with breath or signs,
Firm unmaternal like a young Bacchante's,
Or at your nose profoundly dipped like Dante's
Over your chin that softly melts away.

Now you seem fully under my heart's sway.
I have slipped through the magic of your mesh
Freed once again and strengthened by your flesh,
You seem a weak thing for a strong man's play.
Yet I know now that we shall scarce have parted
When I shall think of you half heavy hearted.
I know our partings. You will faintly smile
And look at me with eyes that have no guile,
Or have too much, and pass into the sphere
Where you keep independent life meanwhile.
How do you live without me, is the fear?
You do not lean upon me, ask my love, or wonder
Of other loves I may have hidden under
These casual renewals of our love.
And if I loved you I should lie in flame,
Ari, go about re-murmuring your name,
And these are things a man should be above.

And as I lie here on the imminent brink
Of soul's surrender into your soul's power,
And in the white light of the morning hour
I see what life would be if we should link
Our lives together in a marriage pact:
For we would walk along a boundless tract
Of perfect hell; but your disloyalty
Would be of spirit, for I have not won
Mastered and bound your spirit unto me.
And if you had a lover in the way
I have you it would not by half betray
My love as does your vague and chainless thought,
Which wanders, soars or vanishes, returns,
Changes, astonishes, or chills or burns,
Is unresisting, plastic, freely wrought
Under my hands yet to no unison
Of my life and of yours. Upon this brink
I watch you now and think
Of all that has been preached or sung or spoken
Of woman's tragedy in woman's fall;
And all the pictures of a woman broken
By man's superior strength.

And there you stand
Your heart and life as firmly in command
Of your resolve as mine is, knowing all
Of man, the master, and his power to harm,
His rulership of spheres material,
Bread, customs, rules of fair repute--
What are they all against your slender arm?
Which long since plucked the fruit
Of good and evil, and of life at last
And now of Life. For dancing you have cast
Veil after veil of ideals or pretense
With which men clothe the being feminine
To satisfy their lordship or their sense
Of ownership and hide the things of sin--
You have thrown them aside veil after veil;
And there you stand unarmored, weirdly frail,
Yet strong as nature, making comical
The poems and the tales of woman's fall....
You nod your head, you smile, I feel the air
Made by the closing door. I lie and stare
At the closed door. One, two, your tuftèd steps
Die on the velvet of the outer hall.
You have escaped. And I would not pursue.
Though we are but caged creatures, I and you--
A male and female tiger in a zoo.
For I shall wait you. Life himself will track
Your wanderings and bring you back,
And shut you up again with me and cage
Our love and hatred and our silent rage.

(The end)
Edgar Lee Masters's poem: In The Cage

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