American Poetry in the Age of Whitman and Dickinson

A Monster Woe Lies in My Breast

with one comment

Since the images are so small in the post below, here’s E. M. Lilien’s strange creature in the web, feeding on the heart of the poor:


And here’s a Rosenfeld poem, as rendered by Rose Pastor Stokes and Helena Frank, chosen, of course, for its leeches:

Pen and Shears

My tailor’s shears I scornèd then;
I strove for something higher:
To edit news — live by the pen —
The pen that shall not tire!

The pen, that was my humble slave,
Has now enslaved its master;
And fast as flows its Midas-wave,
My rebel tears flow faster.

The world I clad once, tailor-hired,
Whilst I in tatters quakèd,
Today, you see me well attired,
Who lets the world go naked.

What human soul, how’er oppressed,
Can feel my chained soul’s yearning!
A monster woe lies in my breast,
In voiceless anguish burning.

Oh, swing ajar the shop door, do!
I’ll bear as ne’er I bore it.
My blood ! … you sweatshop leeches, you! …
Now less I’ll blame you for it.

I’ll stitch as ne’er in former years;
I’ll drive the mad wheel faster;
Slave will I be but to the shears;
The pen shall know its master!


Written by Ben Friedlander

August 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm

One Response

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  1. That sewing machine image made my day: the heathen boss with his armpit hair… and his opium pipe!


    August 6, 2009 at 8:33 pm

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