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About this Poem 

“The Factories” was published in Factories: Poems (Henry Holt, 1917).

The Factories

I have shut my little sister in from life and light
   (For a rose, for a ribbon, for a wreath across my hair),
I have made her restless feet still until the night,
   Locked from sweets of summer and from wild spring air;
I who ranged the meadowlands, free from sun to sun,
   Free to sing and pull the buds and watch the far wings fly,
I have bound my sister till her playing-time was done—
   Oh, my little sister, was it I? Was it I?
 
I have robbed my sister of her day of maidenhood
   (For a robe, for a feather, for a trinket’s restless spark),
Shut from Love till dusk shall fall, how shall she know good,
   How shall she go scatheless through the sin-lit dark?
I who could be innocent, I who could be gay,
   I who could have love and mirth before the light went by,
I have put my sister in her mating-time away—
   Sister, my young sister, was it I? Was it I?
 
I have robbed my sister of the lips against her breast,
   (For a coin, for the weaving of my children’s lace and lawn),
Feet that pace beside the loom, hands that cannot rest—
   How can she know motherhood, whose strength is gone?
I who took no heed of her, starved and labor-worn,
   I, against whose placid heart my sleepy gold-heads lie,
’Round my path they cry to me, little souls unborn—
   God of Life! Creator! It was I! It was I!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Margaret Widdemer

Margaret Widdemer

Margaret Widdemer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania in 1884. In 1919, she won the Pulitzer Prize, then known as the Columbia University Prize, for her 1919 collection The Old Road to Paradise. She died in 1978. 

by this poet

poem

If I could lift
    My heart but high enough
    My heart could fill with love:

But ah, my heart
    Too still and heavy stays
    Too brimming with old days.
 

poem

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our pain’s sake!
Lips set smiling and face made fair
Still for you through the pain we bare,
We have hid till our hearts were sore
Blacker things than you ever bore:
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our pain’s

poem
The Poor Old Soul plods down the street,
        Contented, and forgetting
How Youth was wild, and Spring was wild
        And how her life is setting;

And you lean out to watch her there,
        And pity, nor remember,
That Youth is hard, and Life is hard,
        And quiet is December.