voices from the past


Women At The Washtub

by Victor Daley (1858 - 1905)

Australian writer

The Woman at the Washtub,
She works till fall of night;
With soap, and suds and soda
   Her hands are wrinkled white.
Her diamonds are the sparkles
   The copper-fire supplies;
Her opals are the bubbles
   That from the suds arise.

O Woman at the Washtub,
   And do you ever dream
Of all your days gone by in
   Your aureole of steam?
From birth till we are dying
    You wash our sordid duds,
O Woman of the Washtub!
   O Sister of the Suds!

One night I saw a vision
   That filled my soul with dread,
I saw a Woman washing
   The grave-clothes of the dead;
The dead were all the living,
   And dry were lakes and meres,
The Woman at the Washtub
   She washed them with her tears.

I saw a line with banners
   Hung forth in proud array
The banners of all battles
   From Cain to Judgment Day.
And they were stiff with slaughter
   And blood, from hem to hem,
And they were red with glory,
   And she was washing them.

'Who comes forth to the Judgment,
   And who will doubt my plan?'
'I come forth to the Judgment
   And for the Race of Man.
I rocked him in his cradle,
   I washed him for his tomb,
I claim his soul and body,
   And I will share his doom.'


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