A Leaf from the Devil’s Jest-Book

Original Text: 

Edwin Markham, The Man with the Hoe and Other Poems (New York: Doubleday and McClure, 1899): 44-45. Internet Archive

1Beside the sewing-table chained and bent,
2    They stitch for the lady, tyrannous and proud --
3    For her a wedding-gown, for them a shroud;
4They stitch and stitch, but never mend the rent
5Torn in life's golden curtains. Glad Youth went
6    And left them alone with Time; and now if bowed
7    With burdens they should sob and cry aloud, --
8Wondering, the filled would look from their content.
9And so this glimmering life at last recedes
10    In unknown, endless depths beyond recall;
11And what's the worth of all our ancient creeds,
12    If here at the end of ages this is all --
13    A white face floating in the whirling ball,
14A dead face plashing in the river reeds?
RPO poem Editors: 
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
Form: