I Am The Woman

William Vaughn Moody

I am the Woman, ark of the law and its breaker,
Who chastened her step and taught her knees to be
Bridled and bitted her heart and humbled her cheek,
Parceled her will, and cried, "Take morel" to the
Shunned what they told her to shun, sought what
          they bade her seek,
Locked up her mouth from scornful speaking: now it
          is open to speak.

I am she that is terribly fashioned, the creature
Wrought in God's perilous mood, in His unsafe hour.
The morning star was mute, beholding my feature,
Seeing the rapture I was, the shame, and the power,
Stared at my manifold meaning; he heard me call,
"O fairest among ten thousand, acceptable brother!"
And he answered not, for doubt; till he saw me crawl
And whisper down to the secret worm, "O mother, 
Be not wroth in the ancient house; thy daughter
     forgets not at alll"

I am the Woman, fleer away,
Soft withdrawer back from the maddened mate,
Lurer inward and down to the gates of day
And crier there in the gate,
"What shall I give for thee, wild one, sayl
The long, slow rapture and patient anguish of life,
Or art thou minded a swifter way?
Ask if thou canst, the gold, but O, if thou must,
Good is the shining dross, lovely the dustl
Look at me, I am the Woman, harlot and heavenly wife;
Tell me thy price, be unashamed; I will assuredly payl"

I am also the Mother: of two that I bore I comfort and feed
the slayer, feed and comfort the slain. 
Did they number my daughters and sons? I am mother of morel
Many a head they marked not, here in my bosom has lain,
Babbling with unborn lips in a tongue to be, 
Far, incredible matters, all familiar to me.
Still would the man come whispering, "Wife!" but many a time   
    my breast 
Took him as a husband: I soothed him and laid him to rest
Even as the babe of my body, and knew him for such. 
My mouth is open to speak, that was dumb too much! I say to
you I am the Mother; and under the sword 
Which flamed each way to harry us forth from the Lord, I saw
Him young at the portal, weeping and staying the rod, 
And I, even I was His mother, and I yearned as the mother of   

I am also the Spirit. The Sisters laughed When I
sat with them dumb in the portals, over my lamp,--
Half asleep in the doors: for my gown was raught
Off at the shoulder to shield from the wind and the
rain The wick I tended against the mysterious hour
When the silent City of Being should ring with
song, As the Lord came in with Life to the marriage
bower. "Lookl" laughed the elder Sisters; and
crimson with shame I hid my breast away from the
rosy flame. "Ahl" cried the leaning Sisters,
pointing, doing me wrong; 50 "Do you see?" laughed
the wanton Sisters. "She will get her a lover

And it was but a Iittle while till unto my need
He was given, indeed,
And we walked where waxing world after world went by;
And I said to my lover, "Let us begone,                  
     O, let us begone, and try
Which of them all the fairest to dwell in is,
Which is the place for us, our desirable climel"
But he said, "They are only the huts and the little      
PIeasant to go and lodge in rudely over the              
Scornfully spake he, being unwise,
Being flushed at heart because of our walking together.
But I was mute with passionate prophecies;
My heart went veiled and faint in the golden weather,
While universe drifted by after still universe.          
Then I cried, "Alas, we must hasten and lodge therein,
One after one, and in every star that they shedl
A dark and a weary thing is come on our head--
To search obedience out in the bosom of sin,
Ta listen deep for love when thunders the curse;         
    For O my love, behold where the Lord hath planted
In every star in the midst his dangerous Treel
Still I must pluck thereof and bring unto thee,
Saying, "The coolness for which all night we have        
Taste of the goodly thing, I have tasted firstl"         
Bringing us noway coolness, but burning thirst,
Giving us noway peace, but implacable strife,
Loosing upon us the wounding joy and the wasting sorrow of life!
I am the Woman, ark of the Law and sacred arm to upbear it,
Heathen trumpet to overthrow and idolatrous sword to shear it:
Yea, she whose arm was round the neck of the morning star at
Is she who kneeleth now in the dust and cries at the secret door,
"Open to me, O sleeping motherl The gate is heavy and strong.
Open to me, I am come at last; be wroth with thy child no more.
Let me lie down with thee there in the dark, and be slothful with
         thee as before!"



Document URL: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/i-am-woman.html
Last modified: Wednesday, 18-Jul-2007 16:26:30 EDT