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Ridge, Lola

· The Song Of Iron by Lola Ridge · To The Others by Lola Ridge · The Fog by Lola Ridge · Time-Stone by Lola Ridge · The Song by Lola Ridge · Lola Ridge: The Legion of Iron · Lola Ridge: Mother · Lola Ridge: Jaguar · Lola Ridge: Emma Goldman · Lola Ridge: The Woman with Jewels · LOLA RIDGE: After storm · LOLA RIDGE: Reveille

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The Song Of Iron by Lola Ridge



The Song Of Iron


Not yet hast Thou sounded
Thy clangorous music,
Whose strings are under the mountains…
Not yet hast Thou spoken
The blooded, implacable Word…

But I hear in the Iron singing –
In the triumphant roaring of the steam and pistons pounding –
Thy barbaric exhortation…
And the blood leaps in my arteries, unreproved,
Answering Thy call…
All my spirit is inundated with the tumultuous passion of Thy Voice,
And sings exultant with the Iron,
For now I know I too am of Thy Chosen…

Oh fashioned in fire –
Needing flame for Thy ultimate word –
Behold me, a cupola
Poured to Thy use!

Heed not my tremulous body
That faints in the grip of Thy gauntlet.
Break it… and cast it aside…
But make of my spirit
That dares and endures
Thy crucible…
Pour through my soul
Thy molten, world-whelming song.

… Here at Thy uttermost gate
Like a new Mary, I wait…


Charge the blast furnace, workman…
Open the valves –
Drive the fires high…
(Night is above the gates).

How golden-hot the ore is
From the cupola spurting,
Tossing the flaming petals
Over the silt and furnace ash –
Blown leaves, devastating,
Falling about the world…

Out of the furnace mouth –
Out of the giant mouth –
The raging, turgid, mouth –
Fall fiery blossoms
Gold with the gold of buttercups
In a field at sunset,
Or huskier gold of dandelions,
Warmed in sun-leavings,
Or changing to the paler hue
At the creamy hearts of primroses.

Charge the converter, workman –
Tired from the long night?
But the earth shall suck up darkness –
The earth that holds so much…
And out of these molten flowers,
Shall shape the heavy fruit…

Then open the valves –
Drive the fires high,
Your blossoms nurturing.
(Day is at the gates
And a young wind…)

Put by your rod, comrade,
And look with me, shading your eyes…
Do you not see –
Through the lucent haze
Out of the converter rising –
In the spirals of fire
Smiting and blinding,
A shadowy shape
White as a flame of sacrifice,
Like a lily swaying?


The ore leaping in the crucibles,
The ore communicant,
Sending faint thrills along the leads…
Fire is running along the roots of the mountains…
I feel the long recoil of earth
As under a mighty quickening…
(Dawn is aglow in the light of the Iron…)
All palpitant, I wait…


Here ye, Dictators – late Lords of the Iron,
Shut in your council rooms, palsied, depowered –
The blooded, implacable Word?
Not whispered in cloture, one to the other,
(Brother in fear of the fear of his brother…)
But chanted and thundered
On the brazen, articulate tongues of the Iron
Babbling in flame…

Sung to the rhythm of prisons dismantled,
Manacles riven and ramparts defaced…
(Hearts death-anointed yet hearing life calling…)
Ankle chains bursting and gallows unbraced…

Sung to the rhythm of arsenals burning…
Clangor of iron smashing on iron,
Turmoil of metal and dissonant baying
Of mail-sided monsters shattered asunder…

Hulks of black turbines all mangled and roaring,
Battering egress through ramparted walls…
Mouthing of engines, made rabid with power,
Into the holocaust snorting and plunging…

Mighty converters torn from their axis,
Flung to the furnaces, vomiting fire,
Jumbled in white-heaten masses disshapen…
Writhing in flame-tortured levers of iron…

Gnashing of steel serpents twisting and dying…
Screeching of steam-glutted cauldrons rending…
Shock of leviathans prone on each other…
Scaled flanks touching, ore entering ore…
Steel haunches closing and grappling and swaying
In the waltz of the mating locked mammoths of iron,
Tasting the turbulent fury of living,
Mad with a moment’s exuberant living!
Crash of devastating hammers despoiling..
Hands inexorable, marring
What hands had so cunningly moulded…

Structures of steel welded, subtily tempered,
Marvelous wrought of the wizards of ore,
Torn into octaves discordantly clashing,
Chords never final but onward progressing
In monstrous fusion of sound ever smiting on sound
in mad vortices whirling…

Till the ear, tortured, shrieks for cessation
Of the raving inharmonies hatefully mingling…
The fierce obligato the steel pipes are screaming…
The blare of the rude molten music of Iron…

Lola Ridge
The Song Of Iron

• magazine

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To The Others by Lola Ridge



To The Others

I see you, refulgent ones,
Burning so steadily
Like big white arc lights…
There are so many of you.
I like to watch you weaving –
Altogether and with precision
Each his ray –
Your tracery of light,
Making a shining way about America.

I note your infinite reactions –
In glassware
And sequin
And puddles
And bits of jet –
And here and there a diamond…

But you do not yet see me,
Who am a torch blown along the wind,
Flickering to a spark
But never out.

Lola Ridge
To The Others

• magazine

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The Fog by Lola Ridge


The Fog

Out of the lamp-bestarred and clouded dusk –
Snaring, illuding, concealing,
Magically conjuring –
Turning to fairy-coaches
Beetle-backed limousines
Scampering under the great Arch –
Making a decoy of blue overalls
And mystery of a scarlet shawl –
Indolently –
Knowing no impediment of its sure advance –
Descends the fog.

Lola Ridge
The Fog
• magazine

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Time-Stone by Lola Ridge



Hallo, Metropolitan –
Ubiquitous windows staring all ways,
Red eye notching the darkness.
No use to ogle that slip of a moon.
This midnight the moon,
Playing virgin after all her encounters,
Will break another date with you.
You fuss an awful lot,
You flight of ledger books,
Overrun with multiple ant-black figures
Dancing on spindle legs
An interminable can-can.
But I’d rather… like the cats in the alley… count time
By the silver whistle of a moonbeam
Falling between my stoop-shouldered walls,
Than all your tally of the sunsets,
Metropolitan, ticking among stars.

Lola Ridge
• magazine

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The Song by Lola Ridge


The Song

That day, in the slipping of torsos and straining flanks on the bloodied ooze of fields plowed by the iron,
And the smoke bluish near earth and bronze in the sunshine floating like cotton-down,
And the harsh and terrible screaming,
And that strange vibration at the roots of us…
Desire, fierce, like a song…
And we heard
(Do you remember?)
All the Red Cross bands on Fifth avenue
And bugles in little home towns
And children’s harmonicas bleating


And after…
(Do you remember?)
The drollery of the wind on our faces,
And horizons reeling,
And the terror of the plain
Heaving like a gaunt pelvis to the sun…
Under us – threshing and twanging
Torn-up roots of the Song…

Lola Ridge
The Song
• magazine

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Lola Ridge: The Legion of Iron

Lola Ridge



The Legion of Iron

They pass through the great iron gates–

Men with eyes gravely discerning,

Skilled to appraise the tunnage of cranes

Or split an inch into thousandths–

Men tempered by fire as the ore is

And planned to resistance

Like steel that has cooled in the trough;

Silent of purpose, inflexible, set to fulfilment–

To conquer, withstand, overthrow …

Men mannered to large undertakings,

Knowing force as a brother

And power as something to play with,

Seeing blood as a slip of the iron,

To be wiped from the tools

Lest they rust.


But what if they stood aside,

Who hold the earth so careless in the crook of their arms?


What of the flamboyant cities

And the lights guttering out like candles in a wind …

And the armies halted …

And the train mid-way on the mountain

And idle men chaffing across the trenches …

And the cursing and lamentation

And the clamor for grain shut in the mills of the world?

What if they stayed apart,

Inscrutably smiling,

Leaving the ground encumbered with dead wire

And the sea to row-boats

And the lands marooned–

Till Time should like a paralytic sit,

A mildewed hulk above the nations squatting?


Lola Ridge poetry poetry magazine

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Lola Ridge: Mother

Lola Ridge




Your love was like moonlight

turning harsh things to beauty,

so that little wry souls

reflecting each other obliquely

as in cracked mirrors …

beheld in your luminous spirit

their own reflection,

transfigured as in a shining stream,

and loved you for what they are not.


You are less an image in my mind

than a luster

I see you in gleams

pale as star-light on a gray wall …

evanescent as the reflection of a white swan

shimmering in broken water.


Lola Ridge poetry poetry magazine

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Lola Ridge: Jaguar

Lola Ridge




Nasal intonations of light

and clicking tongues …

publicity of windows

stoning me with pent-up cries …

smells of abattoirs …

smells of long-dead meat.


Some day-end–

while the sand is yet cozy as a blanket

off the warm body of a squaw,

and the jaguars are out to kill …

with a blue-black night coming on

and a painted cloud

stalking the first star–

I shall go alone into the Silence …

the coiled Silence …

where a cry can run only a little way

and waver and dwindle

and be lost.


And there …

where tiny antlers clinch and strain

as life grapples in a million avid points,

and threshing things,

strike and die,

letting their hate live on

in the spreading purple of a wound …

I too

will make covert of a crevice in the night,

and turn and watch …

nose at the cleft’s edge.


Lola Ridge poetry poetry magazine

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Lola Ridge: Emma Goldman

Lola Ridge



Emma Goldman

How should they appraise you,

who walk up close to you

as to a mountain,

each proclaiming his own eyeful

against the other’s eyeful.


Only time

standing well off

shall measure your circumference and height.


Lola Ridge poetry poetry magazine

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Lola Ridge: The Woman with Jewels

Lola Ridge



The Woman with Jewels

The woman with jewels sits in the café,
Spraying light like a fountain.
Diamonds glitter on her bulbous fingers
And on her arms, great as thighs,
Diamonds gush from her ear-lobes over the goitrous throat.
She is obesely beautiful.
Her eyes are full of bleared lights,
Like little pools of tar, spilled by a sailor in mad haste for shore …
And her mouth is scarlet and full–only a little crumpled–like a flower that has been pressed apart …

Why does she come alone to this obscure basement–
She who should have a litter and hand-maidens to support her on either side?

She ascends the stairway, and the waiters turn to look at her, spilling the soup.
The black satin dress is a little lifted, showing the dropsical legs in their silken fleshlings …
The mountainous breasts tremble …
There is an agitation in her gems,
That quiver incessantly, emitting trillions of fiery rays …

She erupts explosive breaths …
Every step is an adventure
From this …
The serpent’s tooth
Saved Cleopatra.


Lola Ridge poetry poetry magazine

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LOLA RIDGE: After storm

Lola Ridge



  Was there a wind?
  Tap… tap…
  Night pads upon the snow
  with moccasined feet…
  and it is still… so still…
  an eagle’s feather
  might fall like a stone.
  Could there have been a storm…
  mad-tossing golden mane on the neck of the wind…
  tearing up the sky…
  loose-flapping like a tent
  about the ice-capped stars?

  Cool, sheer and motionless
  the frosted pines
  are jeweled with a million flaming points
  that fling their beauty up in long white sheaves
  till they catch hands with stars.
  Could there have been a wind
  that haled them by the hair….
  and blinding
  flowers of the lightning
  in their leaves?
  Tap… tap…
  slow-ticking centuries…
  Soft as bare feet upon the snow…
  faint… lulling as heard rain
  upon heaped leaves….
  builds her wall
  about a dream impaled.


LOLA RIDGE POETRY poetry magazine

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LOLA RIDGE: Reveille

Lola Ridge



  Come forth, you workers!
  Let the fires go cold–
  Let the iron spill out, out of the troughs–
  Let the iron run wild
  Like a red bramble on the floors–
  Leave the mill and the foundry and the mine
  And the shrapnel lying on the wharves–
  Leave the desk and the shuttle and the loom–
  With your ashen lives,
  Your lives like dust in your hands.

  I call upon you, workers.
  It is not yet light
  But I beat upon your doors.
  You say you await the Dawn
  But I say you are the Dawn.
  Come, in your irresistible unspent force
  And make new light upon the mountains.

  You have turned deaf ears to others–
  Me you shall hear.
  Out of the mouths of turbines,
  Out of the turgid throats of engines,
  Over the whistling steam,
  You shall hear me shrilly piping.
  Your mills I shall enter like the wind,
  And blow upon your hearts,
  Kindling the slow fire.

  They think they have tamed you, workers–
  Beaten you to a tool
  To scoop up hot honor
  Till it be cool–
  But out of the passion of the red frontiers
  A great flower trembles and burns and glows
  And each of its petals is a people.

  Come forth, you workers–
  Clinging to your stable
  And your wisp of warm straw–
  Let the fires grow cold,
  Let the iron spill out of the troughs,
  Let the iron run wild
  Like a red bramble on the floors….

  As our forefathers stood on the prairies
  So let us stand in a ring,
  Let us tear up their prisons like grass
  And beat them to barricades–
  Let us meet the fire of their guns
  With a greater fire,
  Till the birds shall fly to the mountains
  For one safe bough.


LOLA RIDGE POETRY poetry magazine

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