The Parasite

A poem by Theodosia Garrison

They brought to the little Princess, from her earliest hour of birth,
The lovely things, the beautiful things, the soft things of earth.

They covered her floor with crimson, they wrapped her in eiderdown;
They hung the windows with cloth of gold, lest her eyes look down;
(Lest the highway show an unlovely thing
And her eyes look down.)

They brought rare toys to her cradle, rich gems to her maidenhood;
All that she saw was beautiful, all that she heard was good.

When tumult rose in the city they bade her minstrels sing;
They drowned with the sound of music a people's clamouring;
(Lest she turn and hark to the highway,
And hear an unlovely thing.)

But there came a day of terror, when a cry too sharp and long
Tore through the streets of the city, through the soft, sweet song.

She bade her singers be silent--silent they stood in awe;
She raised the gold from the window; she looked down and saw.
(She leaned and looked on the highway,
She looked down and saw.)

She saw men driven like cattle, she heard the woman's cry,
She saw the white-faced children toil, and the weaklings die.

She saw the bound and the beaten beneath her like shifting sands,
And--she dropped the cloth on her window with her own white hands,
(She shut out her people's crying
With her own white hands.)

As a child may turn from a picture that he may not understand,
She turned to fragrance and music,--to soft things and bland.

If the Princess is blind to anguish, if the Princess is deaf to woe,
If the streets of her city may run with blood, and she not know,
Now theirs is the blame who have closed her in ease as in
folded wings,
Who have barred the doors and windows, what time her minstrel sings,
Lest her eyes look down on the highway,
And look on unlovely things.

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