An Earth Goddess
After the Advance, 1917
You are not the august Mother Nor even one of her comely daughters, But you gave shelter to men, Hid birds and little beasts within your hands And twined flowers in your hair.
Sister you have been sick of a long fever, You have been torn with throes Fiercer than childbirth and yet barren; You are plague-marked; There are no flowers in your hair.
I have seen your anguish, O Sister, I have seen your wounds. But now there is come upon you peace, A peace unbroken, profound, Such as came upon the mother of King Eteocles When both her sons were dead. For in your agony, Sister, When men bruised and ravished you, You remembered the wide kindness of our mother And gave shelter to each of them that rent you, Shielded them from death with your delicate body, And received their clotted corpses into your once pure breast.
And now since you have endured, Since for all your wrong and bitter pain There came no hatred upon you But only pity and anguish Such as the mother of King Eteocles felt Gazing upon her two angry sons— Because of this your peace is wonderful.
Underfoot are a few scant grasses Amid rusty ruin; Overhead the last of your larks Cries shrilly before the broken clouds; And for your sake, O my Sister, O daughter of our Great Earth-Mother, Because of your old pain And long-suffering and sweetness, Because of the new peace Which lies so deep upon you, The chains of my bitterness are broken, The weight of my despair leaves me.