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Lola Ridge

(December 12, 1873- May 19, 1941 / Dublin)

The White Bird


Man of the flame-eyes
And mouth with the bitter twist of in-grown laughter,
And little bald man . . . whose seeming stillness
Is akin to the velocity of a spinning star
Holding its perfect poise—
You two yea-sayers
Beetling over the little deniers,
Two great levelers, building from the earth up, among
puttiers and pluggers of rotten piles—
You of the rich life, running in ample measure, amidst
life deleted of its old raw fire as earth is deleted
of its coal and iron— You be mighty hunters and keepers,
Trotsky and Lenine—
Yet can you hold . . . the unconstrainable One
Of the slow and flaming deaths
And multiple resurrections ?

Hands, reaching in hundreds of millions,
Backs, straightening under the keeling floor of the world,
Can you hold the great white bird?—
She that sweeps low over the chain-gangs
When they glance up from their stone7breaking
Into morning's burning gold;
She that goes down into underground cells,
Sending the cool wind of her wings
Through unsevering stone . . .
And departs, unbeknown, from those who announce her,
Saying: 'Lo, she is ours!'

Ah, what a mighty destiny shall be yours,
Should you persuade her—
The Unconstrainable One
Who has slid out of the arms of so many lovers,
Leaving'not'a feather in their hands!

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Edited: Wednesday, February 08, 2012

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