A Crowded Trolley Car

By Elinor Wylie 1885–1928 Elinor Wylie
The rain’s cold grains are silver-gray
Sharp as golden sands,
A bell is clanging, people sway
Hanging by their hands.

Supple hands, or gnarled and stiff,
Snatch and catch and grope;
That face is yellow-pale, as if
The fellow swung from rope.

Dull like pebbles, sharp like knives,
Glances strike and glare,
Fingers tangle, Bluebeard’s wives
Dangle by the hair.

Orchard of the strangest fruits
Hanging from the skies;
Brothers, yet insensate brutes
Who fear each others’ eyes.

One man stands as free men stand
As if his soul might be
Brave, unbroken; see his hand
Nailed to an oaken tree.

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Poet Elinor Wylie 1885–1928

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza

 Elinor  Wylie

Biography

Extravagantly praised in her lifetime, the poet and novelist Elinor Wylie suffered a posthumous reversal in her reputation but has experienced something of a revival of interest among feminist critics since the 1980s.

Wylie was born in Somerville, New Jersey to a socially prominent family, and grew up in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. As the daughter of a lawyer who later became solicitor general of the United . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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