from Lyrics of the Street

By Julia Ward Howe 1819–1910 Julia Ward Howe

Street Yarn

Roses caged in windows, heighten
    Your faint blooms today;
Silks and sheeny satins, brighten;
    He has passed this way!

Could ye keep his fleeting presence
    Gone beyond recall,
But a little of his essence,
    I would have you all.

Arabesque so quaint and shady,
    That mightst catch his eye
To adorn a stately lady
    Ere her hour went by,

Canst assure me that his glancing
    Rested on they fold?
Did that set your purples dancing?
    Wake the sleepy gold?

Ye neglected apple-venders
    Mouldering in the street,
Did he curse between your tenders,
    Spurning with his feet?

Then must I an alms deliver
    For his graceless pride;
Could I buy his sins forever,
    I’d not be denied.

Paying patiently his ransom
    Never conscience-pricked;
Cheating Justice of her handsome
    Heartless derelict.

Did he view thee, ancient steeple,
    With thy weird clock-face,
Frowning down on sinful people
    Passing out of grace?

Nay, respond not to my question
    With thy prate of time:
Things to which my soul must hasten
    Lie beyond thy chime.

With no circumstance to screen us,
    We must meet again:
I shall bid God judge between us,
    Answering Amen.

Source: She Wields a Pen: American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century (University of Iowa Press, 1997)

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Poet Julia Ward Howe 1819–1910

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Class, Social Commentaries

 Julia  Ward Howe


Julia Ward Howe, a social reformer, is most remembered for her Civil War-era song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." In many respects, Howe was a female pioneer, particularly in literature and women's rights. Howe wrote many books, including collections of poetry and travel volumes. She, along with women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was a cofounder of the women's suffrage movement. In addition to lobbying . . .

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SUBJECT Class, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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