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The Trap

Written by: Vachel Lindsay | Biography
 | Quotes (2) |
 She was taught desire in the street, 
Not at the angels' feet. 
By the good no word was said 
Of the worth of the bridal bed. 
The secret was learned from the vile, 
Not from her mother's smile. 
Home spoke not. And the girl 
Was caught in the public whirl. 
Do you say "She gave consent: 
Life drunk, she was content 
With beasts that her fire could please?" 
But she did not choose disease 
Of mind and nerves and breath. 
She was trapped to a slow, foul death. 
The door was watched so well, 
That the steep dark stair to hell 
Was the only escaping way... 
"She gave consent," you say? 

Some think she was meek and good, 
Only lost in the wood 
Of youth, and deceived in man 
When the hunger of sex began 
That ties the husband and wife 
To the end in a strong fond life. 
Her captor, by chance was one 
Of those whose passion was done, 
A cold fierce worm of the sea 
Enslaving for you and me. 
The wages the poor must take 
Have forced them to serve this snake. 
Yea, half-paid girls must go 
For bread to his pit below. 
What hangman shall wait his host 
Of butchers from coast to coast, 
New York to the Golden Gate — 
The merger of death and fate, 
Lust-kings with a careful plan 
Clean-cut, American? 

In liberty's name we cry 
For these women about to die. 

O mothers who failed to tell 
The mazes of heaven and hell, 
Who failed to advise, implore 
Your daughters at Love's strange door, 
What will you do this day? 
Your dear ones are hidden away, 
As good as chained to the bed, 
Hid like the mad, or the dead: — 
The glories of endless years 
Drowned in their harlot-tears: 
The children they hoped to bear, 
Grandchildren strong and fair, 
The life for ages to be, 
Cut off like a blasted tree, 
Murdered in filth in a day, 
Somehow, by the merchant gay! 

In liberty's name we cry 
For these women about to die. 

What shall be said of a state 
Where traps for the white brides wait? 
Of sellers of drink who play 
The game for the extra pay? 
Of statesmen in league with all 
Who hope for the girl-child's fall? 
Of banks where hell's money is paid 
And Pharisees all afraid 
Of pandars that help them sin? 
When will our wrath begin?



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