C. L. M.
John Masefield, Poems (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1945): 210.
1In the dark womb where I began
2My mother's life made me a man.
3Through all the months of human birth
4Her beauty fed my common earth.
5I cannot see, nor breathe, nor stir,
6But through the death of some of her.
7Down in the darkness of the grave
8She cannot see the life she gave.
9For all her love, she cannot tell
10Whether I use it ill or well,
11Nor knock at dusty doors to find
12Her beauty dusty in the mind.
13If the grave's gates could be undone,
14She would not know her little son,
15I am so grown. If we should meet
16She would pass by me in the street,
17Unless my soul's face let her see
18My sense of what she did for me.
19What have I done to keep in mind
20My debt to her and womankind?
21What woman's happier life repays
22Her for those months of wretched days?
23For all my mouthless body leeched
24Ere Birth's releasing hell was reached?
25What have I done, or tried, or said
26In thanks to that dear woman dead?
27Men triumph over women still,
28Men trample women's rights at will,
29And man's lust roves the world untamed.
30O grave, keep shut lest I be shamed.
Publication Start Year:
The Widow in the Bye Street (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1912).
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh