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Editor's Selection of Poems
C.L.M.

by John Masefield

In the dark womb where I began 
My mother's life made me a man. 
Through all the months of human birth 
Her beauty fed my common earth. 
I cannot see, nor breathe, nor stir, 
But through the death of some of her. 

Down in the darkness of the grave 
She cannot see the life she gave. 
For all her love, she cannot tell 
Whether I use it ill or well, 
Nor knock at dusty doors to find 
Her beauty dusty in the mind. 

If the grave's gates could be undone, 
She would not know her little son, 
I am so grown. If we should meet 
She would pass by me in the street, 
Unless my soul's face let her see 
My sense of what she did for me. 

What have I done to keep in mind 
My debt to her and womankind? 
What woman's happier life repays 
Her for those months of wretched days? 
For all my mouthless body leeched 
Ere Birth's releasing hell was reached? 

What have I done, or tried, or said 
In thanks to that dear woman dead? 
Men triumph over women still, 
Men trample women's rights at will, 
And man's lust roves the world untamed. 

              ******* 

O grave, keep shut lest I be shamed. 
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