One Among So Many

. . . In a dark street she met and spoke to me,
Importuning, one wet and mild March night.
We walked and talked together. O her tale
Was very common; thousands know it all!
'Seduced'; a gentleman; a baby coming;
Parents that railed; London; the child born dead;
A seamstress then, one of some fifty girls
'Taken on' a few months at a dressmaker's
In the crush of the 'season' at ten shillings a week!
The fashionable people's dresses done,
And they flown off, these fifty extra girls
Sent — to the streets: that is, to work that gives
Scarcely enough to buy the decent clothes
Respectable employers all demand
Or speak dismissal. Well, well, well, we know!
And she — 'Why, I have gone on down and down,
And there's the gutter, look, that I shall die in!'
'My dear,' I say, 'where hope of all but that
Is gone, 'tis time, I think, life were gone too.'
She looks at me. 'That I should kill myself?'
'That you should kill yourself.' — 'That would be sin,
And God would punish me!' — 'And will not God
Punish for this?' She pauses; then whispers:
'No, no, He will forgive me, for He knows!'
I laughed aloud: 'And you,' she said, 'and you,
Who are so good, so noble' . . . 'Noble? Good?'
I laughed aloud, the great sob in my throat.
O my poor Darling, O my little lost Sheep
Of this vast flock that perishes alone
Out in the pitiless desert! — Yet she'd speak:
She'd ask me: she'd entreat: she'd demonstrate.
O I must not say that! I must believe!
Who made the sea, the leaves so green, the sky
So big and blue and pure above it all?
O my poor Darling, O my little lost Sheep,
Entreat no more and demonstrate no more;
For I believe there is a God, a God
Not in the heaven, the earth, or the waters; no,
But in the heart of Man, on the dear lips
Of angel Women, of heroic Men!
O hopeless Wanderer that would not stay,
('It is too late, I cannot rise again!')
O Saint of faith in love behind the veils,
('You must believe in God, for you are good!')
O Sister who made holy with your kiss,
Your kiss in that wet dark mild night of March,
There in the hideous infamous London streets,
My cheek, and made my soul a sacred place,
my poor Darling, O my little lost Sheep!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Francis William Lauderdale Adams

Francis William Lauderdale Adams was an essayist poet dramatist novelist and journalist who produced a large volume of work in his short life more…

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