by: Jean Starr Untermeyer
the earliest days I have dressed myself
- In fanciful clothes;
- Trying to satisfy a whispering insistence.
- There was so much I dared not give
- To speech or act;
- So I put romance and fantasy
- Into my raiment.
- In that dreamy girlhood
- My clothes were like my thoughts;
- Vague and sentimental.
- They were of misty greens
- And faded lavenders;
- Like cloudy colors in entangled woods,
- Like the budding thoughts of a young girl.
- Later on when womanhood came,
- And Motherhood sat consciously on me,
- I essayed the dignified and noble
- In a trailing gown of gray.
- But Spring came,
- And with it a dress of juicy green
- And tricky yellows,
- With darts of black,
- Like bare twigs showing through the bright leaves.
- After a while I revelled in the sophistication
- Of a gown of black;
- Cut low, swirling in worldly curves.
- And once I dared the long line of the siren
- In a gown of weird brocade.
- But these things have not silenced the whispers.
- Something urgent wants a tongue.
- My clothes are not me, myself;
- Something real escapes in the translation of color and fabric.
- I think I should go naked into the streets,
- And wander unclothed into people's parlors.
- The incredulous eyes of the bewildered world
- Might give me back my true image. . . .
- Maybe in the glances of others
- I would find out what I really am.
MORE POEMS BY JEAN STARR UNTERMEYER
"Clothes" is reprinted
from Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1916. Ed. William
Stanley Braithwaite. New York: Laurence J. Gomme, 1916.