I am the woman -- it is I --
Through all my pain I suffer peace,
Through all my peace I suffer pain,
This insufficient agony --
This stress of woe I cannot feel --
These knees that cannot bend to kneel --
A corpse that flames and cannot die --
A candle with the wick torn through --
These are the things from which I grew
Into the woman whom you hate --
She whom you loved before you knew --
Loved, loved so much before you knew.
All I cannot weep -- in tears,
All I cannot pray -- in prayers,
For it is so the wild world moves,
And it is so that Tame Man loves.
It is for this books fall to ruin,
For this great houses mold and fall,
For this the infant gown, the pall,
For this the veil that eyes weep through,
For this the birds go stumbling down
Into the cycled ages where
Their squandered plumage rends the air.
For this each living thing that dies
Shakes loose a soul that will arise
Like ivory against black space --
A quiet thing, but with a face
Wherein a weeping mouth is built --
A little wound where grief is spilt.
I am the woman -- even so --
Through the years I have not swerved,
Through the years I've altered not.
What changes have I yet to know?
Through what gardens must I crawl?
How many roses yet must fall?
How many flowers yet must blow?
How many blossoms yet must rot?
How many thorns must I yet bear
Within the clenched fists of despair?
To be again she whom you loved --
Loved you so much, so much did care --
Loved, loved so much, so much did care!
Djuna Barnes, 1916.